It was my junior year final project. I was taking an Arts Outreach class and the topic was vulnerability. We had been analyzing different perspectives of it for a few classes already, but now it was our turn to explain how each one of us can be vulnerable in our own ways. The teacher let us interpret our own definition of vulnerability; I defined it as “the act of stepping out of the comfort zone and ignoring all fears.” I wanted my project to be completely original/creative, but also wanted to gain some sort of benefit from it.
It wasn’t all that difficult to think of how I could be vulnerable. I don’t think of myself as a very closed person. I’m generally very open with people about myself and I’m not ashamed of myself. I like myself. The only aspect of myself that I hid from people was my face. I didn’t think I was very pretty without makeup. I felt better about myself with the black eyeliner to outlines my rather plain eyes and the pale foundation that matches my porcelain-like skin tone to cover up those regrettable, little red spots all over my forehead and chin. I didn’t think of myself as ugly, just not as very attractive as I was with makeup.
It wasn’t always this way. The root of my issue with my face started in middle school. I was going through phases and trying out new styles, like a typical middle-schooler, and one of the phases happened to not include makeup. And like a typical middle-schooler, I had one of those relationships that was a big deal at the time, but was really just a memory that seems funny now.
What happened was, I was hanging out with the boy one day during the no-makeup phase. I was actually feeling good about myself without all my eyeliner and foundation on. Little did I know that that feeling would not last very long. The boy looked me in the face and said, “You know, you should really wear makeup.” I am not paraphrasing, this is from verbatim.
So from that point on, I hated the way I looked without makeup. I started to “cake on” the makeup throughout the next couple years. That rude, little comment he made stuck with me despite moving on from that hurtful “relationship.” It still does to this day, but I wasn’t going to let it take over my life. When this project came around, I thought it would be the perfect time to let go the pain and torment I felt. The best way I could do that is to share my natural face with the most critical, public, and terrifying crowd a person could face, the internet.
My project looked like this: I took a picture of myself, plain as my face can be, no editing, no filters, no nothing. My face was cleaned and I pulled my hair away from my face. Every single freckle and red spot was available to the eye. The only makeup to be found was now on the remover wipe. Once I took the picture, it was time for the moment of truth. I opened the Instagram app, clicked the camera icon sitting at the bottom of my phone screen, selected the final picture, and added a spoken word I wrote on my story to the caption box. The only thing left for me to do was select “share.” Once I did that, there was both a sigh of relief & added tension to how people would respond. I received nothing but love. I accomplished my goal of being vulnerable and became a confident adult in the process. Despite degrading cultural norms, I became confident in my natural skin.
I encourage every person to try something like this at some point in their lives. You truly can't know how things will turn out unless you give things a chance.