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A spirit that is not afraid

No Makeup November challenge: reflections on beauty and adequacy

The challenge was to test my mettle without the security blanket of makeup, to enliven the spirit inside that has been there all along and to share my story.
What I am walking away with is so much more than I set out to discover.
The first week was tough and weird as I broke in this new outlook.
The part of myself that loves routine and normalcy groaned as I stretched its limits and cracked the walls of its comfort zone.
During the early days, a biting inferiority complex forced my eyes to the ground.
A foreign strain of guilt pulled my shoulders round, and I was tripped up by a very middle-school-Becky level of shyness.
As I began exploring the ideas of beauty and society, my world opened up.
Like a mathematician, for the first time in my life, I saw the world as formulaic.
The fashion and beauty industries I had admired no longer resembled art.
They were revealed to me as massive corporations feeding on insecurity and jealousy, turning women against each other to generate capital.
My role as a fashion commentator, blogger and advocate was shaken when I questioned the morality of praising one appearance over another -- praising one person instead of another based solely on appearances.
With my face stripped bare, I was able to see myself.
My strengths and weaknesses had always been there, and I realized they weren't connected to what I look like at all.
My thoughts and emotions, and everything I am, are independent from what I look like -- I carry them with me, and my body is just the package it all comes in.
I was able to see others more clearly too, because behind every face and between every spoken word there is a vibrant soul.
Behind every face, sometimes beneath layers of makeup, there is a story that wants to be told.
I have fallen in love with those stories.
I am addicted to the possibilities that await.
I don't know if I will continue the no-makeup challenge for my entire life -- that was never the goal, honestly -- and I'm not going to cancel my "Vogue" subscription anytime soon.
The point is that for me, No Makeup November completely changed the way I look at these former idols.
My outlook on beauty and humanity has been vaccinated with reality.
Because we are human, after all.
Perfection is unattainable, and I think it's time to celebrate everything that makes us real: our screw-ups and stutters, our scars and quirks, our passions and our anxieties.
It's time we stood up for ourselves, even if it means combating the negativity in our own heads.
I had a professor who addressed our nervous, audition-weary senior theatre performance class:
"You are enough," Dan LaRocque stated.
He was referring to the heavy audition process that awaited his graduates, letting us know casting directors wanted to see our personalities in the monologues we chose.
He said it with such urgency we knew it meant something more.
He was bestowing upon us the right to believe in ourselves, the permission to believe that we are exactly as we should be, and that we were great.
He repeated himself over and over in that moment, the words hitting us like snowfall, letting the last few hang in the air.
"You are enough."

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