(This winter, Molly Barker and Caitlyn Boyle embarked on an experiment in going au naturel. Their Naked Face Project challenged other women to join them and explore life without having to put on a special face — or shave their legs or tint their hair — to win the world’s approval. In this blog Barker, the founder of Girls on the Run, considers her personal reactions and the implications for women of stepping back from societal expectations. We see this endeavor as having a green bonus, freedom from the toxic chemicals found in many cosmetics.)
Alright…so this may turn a little dog and pony show. Caitlin and I swore we wouldn’t go into GREAT detail about the physical changes we were undergoing as a result of going totally natural for sixty days…but I have to admit…in this last week I’m beginning to actually enter a stage of sorrow at the project coming to a close.
It’s just been so physically LIBERATING (I’ve spent the majority of posts discussing the emotional and mental liberation that has come with this) to have an excuse to go without my daily beauty habits…physically liberating in a number of ways:
1.) The amount of worry in making sure I’ve got “everything I need” when I travel has literally reduced the amount of getting-ready-to-travel-time by many minutes. This also has applied to just getting ready in the mornings both at home and at the gym. Throw my clothes (which have been generally the same as well, jeans or slacks, nice shirt, flats) and I’m off.
2.) My skin has never looked healthier. People have even remarked at how healthy my skin looks. There is a natural color on my face that is, as far as I’m concerned, just as good as the cosmetically blushed one.
But humorously there are a few things I HAVE found that I am really, really ready to be done with…
1.) I’m ready to remove the body hair! (Okay dog and pony show always gets a rumbling anytime Caitlin and I talk body hair!) The truth is…I actually prefer the way my legs look when they do not have hair. Whether this has been socialized into my view of what is attractive or not…I don’t know. I just know I prefer being “sans hair.”
What’s funny though as I write…is this kind of weird sorrow I have at removing it. (Oh geez…am I actually writing about this?) It’s like a natural part of me is gone. I didn’t know what purpose body hair served until I had it. It’s like a sensual stimulating system. I could literally feel any wind or movement of air nearby UNDER my skin, thanks to the hair follicles being stimulated. There was something about that…that had (and has) me feeling very connected to nature. Nature girl…:) (Speaking of “nature girl.” Granola is here to stay…even my eating habits have undergone a change since I started all of this. Nourishing my body has become critically important as opposed to “fueling it.” Nourishing has a more nurturing quality. More to come at another time.)
2.) And as far as underarm hair…it will be gone. Prefer it absent as well. I’m past the being self-conscious of it…got over that about three weeks ago.
3.) I’ve highlighted my hair since I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I was very much a natural blonde when I was young and by high school it was a light blonde/brown. I started using lemon juice in the summers and by my sophomore year in college I was chemically treating it. I did go a brief period without chemically treating my hair when I was pregnant with my kids…and back then, when the dinosaurs roamed as my daughter likes to mention, I didn’t have any gray.
Well…there is a lot of it now…and I’m totally psyched and excited to see what color my hair REALLY is. The liklihood of returning to highlighting or chemically treating it is very slim. Of course, I may change my mind in another few years, but right now, I’m loving the natural color and loving just showing up with what I got…a kind of very light brown with quite a bit of gray ”salted” throughout.
The greatest result of all of this…and it has been life changing for me…is this just inherent love and respect I have for my body, my skin, my hair…my eyes, my mouth, how I show up in the world, just as I am. I am truly appreciative and grateful to my body and the work it does for me as I navigate this journey we call being human. My body provides for me a bridge, if you will, between the journey inward and the physical world around me. The sense I’m having is very hard to describe…but it feels as if I’m ALL in…all of me is here…present…available to the world…to serve, enjoy, have some fun and do whatever it is I’m supposed to do, while I’m human.
I have a sense (although everyday my view on things changes) that when this is over, every morning when I’m getting ready for work, play, workout, time with my kids, a date, a speaking appearance WHATEVER the day brings, I will, with intention, choose how ALL of me wants to show up. Whether that includes make up or not, will depend on a whole host of variables, but I know that I will evaluate each situation and determine what will allow me to BEST BE PRESENT…all of me, real, authentic and available to bring the BIGGEST ME, the most AWESOMEST (I know that isn’t a real word, but I like it anyway) ME, the SOUL OF ME to the situation.
I won’t use any products to ”fix” my face, “delay aging,” “make me look younger, or ”produce flawless skin” and/or enhance what I already have or am…because (and here is the liberating and coming home to myself part) none of it needs fixing…nothing is broken…nothing is ugly. The illusion that my body isn’t good enough, young enough or “right” enough is just that…an illusion and something I no longer buy into nor will I give any energy to. I simply won’t do it because it’s all a lie. A big fat lie. All of it.
This also means, I won’t use my appearance to manipulate, steer or try to “win” someone over. I will own who I am, accept me as I am and in doing so create a space for others to own who they are, be as they are and know that they are safe in doing so.
Who I am doesn’t change, with my appearance. How I choose to present myself is up to me. I’m not tied, anymore, into illusions so often presented by the advertising tactics of the cosmetic and fashion industry or our culture in general, that who I am and the WORTH of who I am IS in anyway tied to my appearance, my age and/or my body. How I choose to appear…show up…present myself CAN be an expression of who I am, but my worth as a human being has absolutely nothing to do with it.
There is great irony in all of this. Appearance in the human world cannot be avoided. We see, we look, we show up physically. But whether I choose to see my appearance as a measure of my worth OR as one of MANY fabulous avenues to joyfully express who I am…are two very different approaches.
This TED talk was recently shared with me by a friend and I don’t know how I missed it. Aimee captures, very eloquently, how empowering “owning” our bodies (and this includes of course, our skin, our faces, our hair etc.) can be.