I was in fourth grade when I shaved my legs for the first time. I was in sixth when I started to pluck my eyebrows thanks to the incessant teasing of my older sister that I was hairy. By adolescence I was convinced that no one would ever marry me because I was too hairy. (Ironically my husband has alopecia and has no hairJ)
I really tried hard in high school to rid myself of my insecurities about being beautiful and let God love me, but it was hard! I had been teased and bullied so much in my short lifetime thus far that there was a lot about me that I hated, and looking in the mirror and thinking I was beautiful never happened. I guess I just figured when you grow up and become an adult you don’t care what people think anymore. I was wrong.
In college I challenged a friend of mine to go to daily mass every day for a month. He said he’d do it if I didn’t wear makeup for that same month. Daily mass I could do, but no make up? How was I going to have any friends or be able to leave my dorm room? Because I cared about his soul, I did it. And you know what? People didn’t treat me any different. I still hung out with the same friends, no one ever said anything about me being ugly, and over all I saved myself at LEAST several hours of getting ready.
Make up isn’t bad, but it can be if we are using it to hide our insecurities or try to cover up who we really are. Will my husband still love me if I don’t look pretty? Will somehow I be less of a mother if I can’t put out a good image? These are things I still struggle with sometimes. If you absolutely can’t leave the house without putting on your face or wearing a nice outfit- even to run errands or go to the park- something might be wrong. If you can’t stand to look at yourself in the mirror without hair and makeup done, than there is probably some healing that still needs to take place. I certainly don’t want to pass on these insecurities to my daughter and give her the wrong idea that she will need makeup to be beautiful, either. Makeup can accent our beauty, but God didn’t design us to need makeup to be beautiful. He made us beautiful as we are, plain and simple.
I think the best thing we can do is look to Mary as our model. I’m sure she never wore makeup, and she will always be the most beautiful woman that ever lived. The visionaries of Medjugorje describe Mary as beautiful beyond anything of this world. When asked how is it that she is so beautiful Mary responded, “I am beautiful because I love.” And when all of our sinfulness and insecurities are purified and we stand before the throne of God, we won’t need makeup in heaven!! We will all be transformed into the perfect, beautiful, and glorious image of God.
I’m thankful I have a husband who loves to tell me that I’m pretty, and that he actually prefers my natural beauty over lots of “face paint.” And so I’ve been trying lately to go with less makeup, remind myself of my desire for heaven, and try to clothe myself with virtue over fashion. I recently came across this verse that sums it up well:
“A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones. A gift from the Lord is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth. Choicest of all blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person. Like the sun rising in the Lord’s heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home. Like the light which shines above the holy lampstand, are her beauty of face and graceful figure.” Sirach 26:13-17
Makeup, fashion, accessories- in and of themselves are not bad. But they need to be ordered to what is true and good and holy first. They need to be balanced with cultivating the inner virtues of womanhood. Like Mary, let’s be beautiful because we love.
Some other scriptures to ponder:
1 Peter 3:3-4
Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.
1 Samuel 16:7
“Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”
“Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
“Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.”