I remember as a little girl, my mother had this phrase she would always use, and the phrase was: “eyes, nose and mouth“. Eyes, nose and mouth meant you weren’t groomed or polished. It meant you were wearing no make-up and no earrings. It’s what you look like when you first get out of bed. I don’t ever recall my mother leaving the house without putting herself together. If we were going somewhere, her music was playing and she was in the mirror doing her hair or make-up. The only time she may not have was when she was just dropping me off at school in the morning.
She told me “When you get older, you know you can’t just be walking around eyes, nose and mouth, right? You better make sure you look presentable. Don’t you even take out the garbage or go to the mailbox without making sure you look nice because you never know who’ll you meet or run into!” You’d have to know my mom to understand this because we could rarely ever go any place without running into someone she knew!
When we were out, she would point out women who had their hair done, nails done, make-up done and knew how to dress well and say “That’s what a lady looks like”. She taught me those women will never have trouble finding a husband, even if they’re stupid and don’t know anything, because men fall in love with that they see and women fall in love with what they hear, so if you look good, you’ve already won!”
Of course I wasn’t old enough to even think about wearing make-up when she started teaching me this. For a long time I was shorter and smaller than my peers, up until I got to eighth grade, then I started having growth spurts. I was still flat-chested, but I was gaining height, but I also gained acne, and a lot of it! We wore blue and white uniforms to school so I wasn’t too worried about clothing yet. As long as it fit and it was clean, no one could really talk about your uniform. At that time a lot of us were going through growth spurts and sometimes our clothes didn’t exactly fit correctly or sometimes our pants didn’t come down to our shoes. It was that awkward stage where your limbs feel too long for your body, and the girls are temporarily taller than the guys.
My mother use to work as the Parent Coordinator at the school I attended, but she didn’t come back to work there my eighth grade year. I took advantage of the opportunity to sneak and wear make-up, however, my mother is a darker complexion than I am, so I couldn’t wear hers. Let me remind you I was a very shy kid, but I used to get teased so much about my acne everyday and be called names like “pepperoni face”, “crater face”, and Helga from Hey Arnold!. It was common to find classmates staring at me and having a face of disgust, or simply having someone look at me and say “ugh” as an automatic reactional response. They would call me ugly, nasty and dirty. They told me I needed to use probably every acne wash brand you could think of. Sometimes I would get talked about so badly I would put my head down on the desk so they couldn’t see me crying.
I usually walked with my head down, didn’t make eye contact with people and tried my hardest not to speak to anyone first. One of the girls I grew up with and who also happens to be one of my best friends, went to the same school as I did, but we didn’t become friends until we were older and I was more social. When we got older she asked me what used to be wrong with me? She said “I would speak and say hello to you and you would never say anything back. You’d just keep walking! I even asked my mama “How come this girl don’t talk?” I thought something was wrong with you!” Being as close as we are, she understands and understood why I was like that for a while, and witnessed a lot of things first hand that most people would need to know in order to fully understand me as a person.
My mother often sent me into the store with money, as she normally did, to get something for her and I would give her change back. One day I was inside of Walgreen’s and I was walking past the make-up. I was thinking about being talked about every time I went to school and when no one was looking, I put a foundation compact into my pocket. My mother didn’t even like for me to wear lip gloss. I knew she wouldn’t buy me make-up. According to her, kids made fun of me because they were jealous, but I knew none of them were envious of my pimples! They were just being mean because they thought it was funny. She didn’t understand. I paid for her items and I got into the car and handed her change to her. I had just gotten away with shoplifting!
Well, I knew nothing about make-up and when I got to my room and opened it, it was the wrong shade. I had to throw it away and go back and get the right one next time! This happened several times. I didn’t know finding the right color was SO difficult! I had gotten so good at it that shoplifting became a habit. I was stealing lip gloss, nail polish, and even fake press on nails! It didn’t work too well for me anyway. They would look at me with my make-up on and say “You still ugly!”. One day I got into the car and my mom asked “Where’d this come from?” She held up a brand new tube of pink tinted lip gloss that had fallen out of my pocket when I sat down. I looked at my seat and there was a bottle of nail polish and a nail file, both with barcode stickers on them, falling out of my pocket. I told her it came from my pocket. She asked me if I took that out the store and I told her no. I’m not sure if she believed me or not, but I never stole anything else after that.
When I got to high school I actually began putting on weight, but a little more than I would have liked to. Now I wasn’t wearing uniforms anymore and my clothes and shoes were getting talked about too! I hated high school! They only got more creative with their teasing. My mother started letting me wear a little make-up around my junior or senior year. This helped my confidence a little bit. I still felt ugly with it, just not as ugly! I was still talked about.
After high school I found myself taking on the principles my mother taught me when I was little. I didn’t go anywhere without make-up, I kept my nails looking nice, I always made sure my hair was done and felt naked if I ever occasionally forgot to put on earrings. My skin started to clear up a little bit too. I thought I was confident, or at least I felt confident, but when I was just eyes, nose and mouth, that confidence was gone.
Trying to date really magnified my lack of self-esteem. I wouldn’t allow anyone to see me without anything. I had become just like my mom, taking forever in the bathroom with my daddy outside the door rushing me, telling me I was going to be late for work! I didn’t like wearing open toe shoes because I had big feet and I started practicing very unhealthy eating habits in order to lose weight.
When I was twenty I think I just got tired of wearing make-up. There were too many things to apply and buy and it sometimes stained clothes! There was a guy I really liked and he expressed he didn’t like make-up or weave. I stopped wearing weave all the time and just kept my hair pressed out and wrapped at night, for the most part. I started doing research about skin care and learned how to better control my break-outs and blemishes. Most of the time I didn’t wear a dot of make-up at all, but it took years for me to completely rid myself of that superficial mask and start loving me.
It didn’t leave me overnight. My last case of this kind of insecurity came when I was twenty-five. I worked the desk at a health care facility right in front of the ambulance entrance. I had an instant crush as soon as I saw this new tall, Italian EMT guy. I mean he was fo-ine! I knew the days he seemed to be working and started dolling myself up before coming to work. I even relaxed my hair after being natural for so long so it wasn’t as poufy, hoping I would appeal to him more. He happened to come in on a day I wasn’t expecting and I was just eyes, nose and mouth! My satin scarf also happened to come off in my sleep the night before so my wrap was a little poufy! Low and behold, he flirted with me that day. Go figure!
After that, I went home and started telling myself that I was beautiful every time I looked in the mirror. Relaxing my hair after I already had color in it made it begin to break off, fall out and become thin from over processing, so I just decided to shave it all off and start all over! I’d been natural most of my life anyway and it’d be far from the first time I’d cut my hair short!
I made a rule, and even though I didn’t wear make-up but sparingly, I vowed to go on all first dates absolutely make-up free and if the weather permits, open-toe shoes! Since then, I’ve attended everything from weddings to funerals, all make-up free! For virtually the past four years, I’ve gone to work make-up free! I go to church make-up free! When I actually do have my make-up done occasionally, it seems so drastic because I’ve been embracing what I wake up with for so long now. When I receive compliments I know I’m not saying thank you to the make-up I took twenty minutes applying and feel insecure without.
Dating is a thousand percent better, because when I showcase my flaws upfront and he likes me, I don’t have to worry about possible rejection later if he doesn’t like what he sees when he finally catches me without it for the first time. I definitely know women whose husbands and boyfriends had not seen them without weave or make-up for years! Do you really want to be with someone who you still have to feel insecure around? Trust me! Guys are checking you out head to toe, observing little details about you, like if your shoes are clean or if you keep a pedicure! (Which a lady should always maintain!) It’s also cheaper! I stopped wearing the really expensive weaves and opt for braids now, embracing more of my hair’s natural texture! I also stopped wearing expensive fake nails eight years ago, and these both have saved me a lot of money! Now if I at some time want to get fancy, it’s because I want to, and not because I need to!
The biggest reward is, NOBODY IN THE WORLD could ever tell me I’m fat, ugly, nappy-headed, bald-head, big-footed or anything and it bother me at all, because I killed those lies years ago! Plus, when you’ve been talked about already about your appearance for so long, it’s just repetition and seems unoriginal. You actually start appreciating when people are creative with their insults, and you join because it’s fun now! Your skin is thick! What can they tell you about yourself that you haven’t already heard before?
The young girl who contemplated suicide in high school is never to return and that young adult who used to starve herself, take laxatives and dangerous diet pills that weren’t even approved by the FDA (or sometimes illegal) no longer exists. Love handles, stretch marks, scars, blemishes, a few soft areas…I love it all, and anybody who even tries to make me feel less because I’ve chosen to live outside the superficial standard of beauty, is dealing with someone who doesn’t need anyone else’s validation!
You’ll may feel naked and incomplete without it initially, especially if you gained confidence while wearing it, but the pay-off of never having to feel insecure about your flaws is priceless! I also don’t melt for the first guy who calls me pretty because I have a healthy esteem about myself now. I’ve seen a lot of young women fall for the wrong guys because they needed someone else to tell them they were okay, then end up feeling worthless afterward because they lost their source of validation, and I watch them continually try to gain that validation from others, instead of finding it from inside themselves. Once you learn to love the skin you’re in completely, no one can prey on those insecurities by giving you false confidence! Every woman deserves to know the feeling of being looked at like they’re absolutely stunning while they’re just eyes, nose, and mouth!
To some it may look unkempt or unprofessional, but to me, it’s a testimony that I can be free in confident in what God created me to naturally be!
Confidence is everything! It’s a contagious energy and it works with the law of attraction. When you really believe something about yourself, other people will believe it too! Our energies are gravitational. It’s basic Physics. Remember, WE teach others how to treat us and see us!
Just remember to NEVER leave your lips or skin dry! I recommend Beauty by Earth Luxury Lip Balm. I love all their natural scents and flavors. They taste delicious and leave your lips SO soft! Make-up or no make-up, women should feel soft and smell good if they have access to such luxuries!
Now go take a fresh faced selfie with no filter!
Be bold. Be fearless! AND LOVE YOURSELF!
-Debrinah S. Dorsey
**If you were inspired by this article to embrace your natural beauty, please send your make-up free and unaltered photos to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in our upcoming Why I’m Fly – Flaws and All issue. Then, fill out the form on our “Contact Us” page to officially submit your story for evaluation to be considered for a featured article!