Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 350: Au Naturel

Day 350 was the day that my mother had been dreading since I started the blog and told her it was on my list of things to do that I'd never done before. When I told her that since I was nearing the end, this had to happen now, I could hear the disappointment in her voice over the phone.

"Mom, are you ok?"

She let out a half-laugh/half-sigh that she does when she's holding back what she really wants to say.

"Are you really that upset about it?," I asked her.

"I just don't know what the point is? I mean, so you do it, and then what? How are you going to write about it?"

I didn't say it to her, but I knew I'd write about this ridiculous conversation she and I were having about Day 350's task and how strange it seemed to me that she could get so bent out of shape about this one little activity.

I pointed out to her that I'd done far crazier, way less safe, downright embarrassing things over the course of the year that could've definitely brought shame to me and my family. I'd jumped out of a plane, inappropriately danced with a Panamanian, and sang "Happy Birthday" to my friends and other patrons, in a nice restaurant, on a microphone. She never once cared about any of them like she cared about this one. She hardly batted an eyelash when all of these other challenges went down!

So with all of the other stupid things I've done in my life, especially for this blog, I couldn't understand why my decision to go to work not wearing makeup as the thing I'd never done before on Day 350 was going to be the one that was going to really send her over the edge.

My mom is not a shallow person, nor is she particularly looks-conscious, so her concern over this challenge was perplexing to me. Was she afraid that I'd regret my decision and be embarrassed, forced to sit through an entire night of work feeling ugly? Did she think that the decision might make my bosses and other managers think I wasn't taking myself and my job very seriously?

No, it's none of those things. She just thinks I look bad without makeup on.

She's not entirely wrong.

I tried to make her feel better about it, while also convincing myself, and I told her I was actually working an overnight shift on Day 350 into Day 351, so I wouldn't run into a lot of my usual colleagues anyway. Plus, I was still tan, my skin was clear, and I had just had my eyelashes tinted so they weren't their usual blond/invisible. (When it comes to my not wearing makeup, it's my eye lashes that change my appearance the most. Without mascara, I look like a completely different person.) But all things considered, this was the best case scenario to do it.

Plus, and I didn't tell my mother this, I feel like I've eased up on my need for makeup all the time in general. I'm not sure if I've completely given up on myself, or truly don't care anymore, or if I've just come to the realization that those scenarios of meeting cool people in line at the supermarket are never going to happen to me, but I've definitely become more comfortable without wearing it just to run errands or go to the gym.

When making the case to my mother, I told her how free I would feel without wearing makeup. Taking the step out of my "getting ready" routine would free up extra time and my freshly clean face would be free of any and all impurities. That's how I thought I would feel, and what I was most looking forward to.

But getting ready for work, skipping the makeup step, and then walking into my office made me feel the opposite of free. I felt like I was missing something; like I forgot to wear pants or shoes. As usual when I do anything for the first time, I was extra sensitive to who might notice or what they might think or say seeing me for the first time without it.

I didn't feel free at all. I felt anxious.

I was extra friendly and smiley walking into work, greeting everyone that I saw perhaps with the mindset that if I was really nice and a hyped up version of myself, then maybe they wouldn't notice that I'd forgotten to put on my face. And from what I could tell, it worked. No one looked at me any differently or seemed startled to see me.

Just my luck, I arrived to find an attractive guy sitting two seats away from where I was supposed to sit. I'd met him once before, so I waved hello; at that moment, I regretted the decision, certain that I couldn't possibly bring my charm and my A-game without makeup on my face. Thankfully work was busy and I effectively avoided looking in his direction for the rest of the night.

There aren't a whole lot of people coming and going on an overnight shift until the morning, and that's when things got particularly uncomfortable. I was already tired from being up all night and mentally drained from the workload. Then I had to attend early morning meetings, hyper aware that I looked messy and not put together.

I'm the kind of woman who puts makeup on once and then never thinks about it again; I don't pack makeup in my purse and reapply throughout the day or night. I thought it was interesting that I'd never thought more about makeup and my bare face than I did during this night when I wasn't wearing any.

Hardly the freeing experience I was hoping for.

Still, no one seemed to notice that anything was different except for me. Only when I asked Jackie to take pictures for me, for the blog, did she even acknowledge that something might be slightly different.

I decided that regardless of whether or not it changes my appearance all that drastically, makeup is a workday requirement for me simply because of the way that it makes me feel. Without it, I felt out of sorts without it and, sadly, not my usual confident self. If by not wearing it, all I do is think about not wearing it, then I'd rather just wear it and forget about it.

And if it makes my mother sleep better knowing that I'm not out galavanting my bare face for all of Atlanta to see, then that's nice too.


  1. you might look even better, which seems impossible because you're the hottest girl in the building
    -Carey Overby

  2. That attractive guy you sat next to on that overnight shift sounds like an idiot