I never went to work without makeup. Remember those quizzes in women’s magazines that asked what you would take to a desert island to survive? I always chose concealer and blush. Probably before water.
The start of my working career 20 years ago also marked the beginning of acne — the manifestation of all my twenty-something insecurities on full display. I needed makeup. The longer I worked, the more important my appearance became. If I wanted people to hear me, I needed them to see me. And if I didn’t look put together, how could my work be put together? Makeup, like heels and dresses, also made me feel better. If I could make it to the office by 9 looking good, I could handle anything the day threw at me.
When I found myself working from home for the first time in my career this spring, I wondered exactly how presentable a person has to be in a pandemic. Did my role as manager make putting on the same face more important than ever? And if I didn’t, would people think I was giving up?
A toilet paper shortage can shift priorities. Fast. How could I stop and put on mascara when we were searching for necessities? And just who was I doing it for? My family didn’t care if I wore concealer. Nor could I imagine my coworkers concerning themselves with my bare lashes. Why, I wondered, would I paint on a face like normal in a world that is anything but?
So after 20 years, I gave it up. Just like that. I traded the dresses and heels for sweats and Birkenstocks. I wondered if my coworkers noticed. Did they think I looked tired? I was tired. Did they think I looked less put together? It took all my strength to keep it together. To do my job and support my work team and keep our children happy. To keep the house running and make sure my parents stayed healthy. I was spending so much time keeping it all together that I didn’t have time to care if I looked like I was.
Three months went by. When I finally decided to apply makeup for an important conference call, I felt, for the first time in my adult life, less like me. I felt like a little girl playing in my mom’s makeup box. I was so distracted by my face in the Zoom call box I struggled to focus.
Maybe the heels and makeup weren’t for me but for everyone else.
Maybe I was the bare-faced woman in sweats all along.
TAKE ACTION: See what it feels like when you focus on feeling good from the inside out. Don’t know where to start? Check out Kristen Coffield at The Culinary Cure for nutrition tips and information about healthy eating.