fresh faced beauty

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am

from The Story by Brandi Carlile

There is me.  And then there is me.


And neither one of these versions is more valid than the other.

And, yet, something happens sometimes that makes us think that the only version of ourselves that we should present to the world is the made-up version.  The “pretty” version.  Somehow having make-up on and our hair done has become the only sociably acceptable version of ourselves to present in too many environments.

It is not that I am saying make-up and hair products are wrong, but I am saying that they aren’t right- as in the only right way to be.   You can practice self-acceptance and enjoy make-up or fashion, but if you are truly practicing self-acceptance than there is something you inherently know to be true.  Your style and make-up don’t make you.  They may just be a fun way for you to express who you are and someone else’s way of expressing who she is- through endurance events or not enjoying fashion or style or through tattoos or whatever- is just as valid.

Just like anything, it begins with a balanced approach where you inherently understand that your style does not create your worth, it simply is one of many expressions of how you see yourself.  You also inherently know that others’ are not defined by their style either. When you are operating from a self-accepting place, you understand that style does not change your capabilities. You can go without make-up without feeling like you’ve lost yourself. Your abilities or cofnidence don’t change when your outfits or make-up do.

Sometimes, though, it takes some time to really learn that lesson and so I like to hold an all-naturay day every semester in my body image classes.  This Friday, March 15, is this semester’s all natural day, and I want to invite you to join me and my class in going all natural.

What does going all natural mean?  You can shower, put on moisturizer (as long as it is not tinted or light-reflecting), brush your hair and your teeth but that’s where the primping ends.

Here are some things that should not be part of your All Natural Day:

Contacts (yep, wear your glasses!)

Perfume/ Aftershave


Nail Polish

Fake eyelashes

Weave or extensions (the clip in kind. If it’s sewn in, you can keep it there!)

Hair products (shampoo and conditioning in the shower are fine– no leave in conditioner, de-frizz or straightening products)

Flat Ironing/ Curling/ Rollers/ Blow Drying

If you are a trans or gender-variant person, participate by not using items that you would consider appearance enhancements but please feel comfortable using items that are part of your identity.

I am sure I’ve left something off the list so, here’s the deal, if anything feels like it could be an enhancement, it probably is- so skip it. And while it would be tempting to just throw on sweats (and pull your hair back into a pony tail if you have longer hair), I encourage you to dress nicely for the day (whatever that means to you– just not sweats) and to wear your hair down- showing yourself that you don’t have to be dressed down in order to eliminate enhancements and forgoing the all or nothing thinking that often plagues us (if I am not wearing make-up, I don’t deserve to pay attention to myself or my body in anyway, sound familiar?).

Want to take the challenge one step further? If you are on a social media site, change your profile picture to feature one of you without the enhancements and encourage your followers/friends to do the same. If you do it, please send me a link or copy of the photo! Want to tweet about it this experience? Do so under #allnaturalday.

A few caveats for my blog readers: if you can’t completely go all natural in your life (for example, you can go make-up less to work but it would be frowned upon for you to walk in with wet hair from the shower, then, by all means, do what you HAVE to do but don’t do what you WANT to do).

Here’s to loving the skin we’re in, as it is.

What is your relationship with doing your hair and make-up?  Are there places where you feel like you can’t go natural?  Are there place where you feel like you must go natural?  Are make-up and fashion part of your creative personal expression?  How do you take a balanced approach?


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9 responses to “fresh faced beauty”

  1. Tami - Teacher Goes Back To School

    i love these all natural days. it is pretty easy for me make up wise, but i love me some hair products. i wish i could see before and after photos of the students.

  2. Ruth

    Goodness, am I odd. 57 years old, not a great beauty – reasonably attractive, a bit overweight. But with the exception of some nail varnish occasionally (and I admit I don’t wear glasses, so the temptation to contacts doesn’t apply) I have never used any of the things you are making such a statement about giving up. Maybe occasionally a little perfume, but I got bored with it. Hair products never – tried some gel once, found it sticky. Make up – I look like a clown. Always insist on a hair cut that doesn’t need blow drying. Dyed my hair for a couple of years, but didn’t like it. It’s not that I am some kind of puritan – care about my appearance, love clothes. But all that stuff – no thanks.

  3. Joanna

    I am sorry that I totally missed out on this. I was in NYC for spring break and didn’t get the memo until too late last night. I will participate in my own All Natural Day next week! I think this is an important exercise, and I appreciate your bringing it up so that we can all remember that we’re good enough…always. As a person who is getting ready to start a business in personal styling, though, I disagree with just one part of one statement you made above. You stated, “Your abilities or confidence don’t change when your outfits or make-up do.” I totally agree about abilities, but I challenge the point about confidence. I am a firm believer that when we take time to care about our appearance, we can absolutely boost our self-confidence! That doesn’t mean that everyone “cares” the same way or has the same level of interest in fashion and style (if any), but if you walk out of the house in the morning feeling good about the way you look (including your clothing), your spirits will be lifted. Feeling good about the way you look generally means knowing a little bit about style and the way clothes fit on your body. It starts from the inside out, of course, so point taken! And agreed!

  4. A.B.

    I wear my glasses as an accessory. I choose strong frames in bold colors. I actually feel less “natural” when I wear them than when I do my contact lenses.

    Other than that, that’s me every day.

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