I hear about every insecurity in the courses I teach on Body Image at UNC-Charlotte. My students marvel at Jennifer Aniston’s perfect skin, reveal that their poor body image keeps them from speaking up, going out, and trying out for things. If I am not made-up, I can’t go anywhere, several have confessed. Truth be told, my students too often surrender from life because of how they feel they look.
That’s a heartbreaking reality for vibrant college students, yet it echoes a Dove Campaign for Real Beauty finding where 66% of women globally said they had avoided an activity due to feeling badly about the way they looked. Moreover, I’ve seen un-airbrushed pictures of Jennifer Aniston and know that her skin is just like ours, a little bit sun-spotted, a smidge wrinkled and completely reflective of living life with joy, pain, and passion. While many of us intellectually know that, we don’t always live like we do. Too often, we live like the only way to go through life is with a literal façade.
So I issued a challenge: let’s go all natural. No enhancements for a day because our skin is neither perfect nor bad, and showing it in its natural form can be refreshing. They stared back as if they’d misheard. I wasn’t sure who’d take the challenge of using no make-up, hair product, or perfume, but come All Natural Day, every student walked into class without enhancements. They were absolutely breathtaking, and they began to realize it, too.
As we processed the experience, they shared these observations:
I did not feel like myself without make-up. I was really anxious, but I honestly don’t think I look that bad without it. I don’t always need make-up to feel beautiful.
Everyone is beautiful in his or her own way, and we don’t need materialistic things to be happy or for someone to think we’re beautiful.
I don’t think people really notice make-up or hair products as much as we think they do.
No one really cares if I’m wearing make-up. They have their own problems. My face is fine the way it is, and I’ll save money and time by not trying to “fix” it.
As for me, I don’t believe make-up is bad. I wear it a few days a week. But I worry about using make-up as a crutch or our having a distorted sense of what skin looks like because we are so used to seeing it enhanced. Too many women allow their hair or make-up to inform their choices. Make-up can be fun, and it can be empowering. But I don’t want people to be paralyzed by feeling they need a certain made-up look in order to enjoy their lives. What we need to enjoy our lives, actually, is the desire to enjoy it and the belief that we deserve to do just that.
Today: Go all natural. Do not use anything (hair products, skin brighteners) that are meant to alter you in some way to make you more “beautiful”. In addition, take the time you would have spent getting ready to check your products for these ingredients. Here is some wisdom from Jodi Helmer, author of The Green Year: 365 Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference:
You might be surprised to learn that the products you use to keep your hair shiny, your skin soft and your nails polished are often chemical cocktails masquerading in pretty packaging.
By law, all beauty products must list their ingredients. Read the labels and avoid products that contain triclosan, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate, which have been linked to health issues ranging from breast cancer and fertility issues to thyroid disease. The word ‘fragrance’ on the label is a red flag! A loophole in the law doesn’t require the manufacturers of personal care products to list the chemicals used in fragrances on the label. It’s ok to buy products that have a scent, just be sure that the scent is from a natural source: Vanilla essential oil is fine, vanilla fragrance should be avoided.
Look for beauty products with the USDA Organic seal. In order to be certified, the ingredients must undergo a rigorous approval process, which can minimize your exposure to chemicals. Burt’s Bees and Pangea Organics make great natural beauty products.
2. How did people react? Were you surprised by that?
3. What did you learn about the ingredients in your beauty products? What changes are you willing to make?
4. What have you learned after doing this?
Remember, your comments here about participating will get you entered in the giveaways!
Excited about this journey? Want more? Pick up Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance for a year long plan and guidance.
Want to learn more about organic beauty products? I rely on Aleigh of Indigo and Canary, a natural organic beauty blog for awesome suggestions.
Want to give feedback on your shine experience so far? Take just a few minutes to answer this survey to help me determine how to improve shine and other experiences like this in the future!