**UPDATE: A more in-depth version of this post has been published on The Conversation. You can read it in full at www.theconversation.tv.
I’ve battled my feelings for mascara for too many years to count. I first discovered its magical way of making eyes pop and faces look awake at some point in my teens. Maybelline Great Lash was my mascara of choice, and it never failed to give me the confidence I needed to successfully navigate the halls of Amador Valley High.
At one point in college, I realized my flirtation with mascara had become a secret affair. Nobody knew, but mascara was my obsession. I could not leave the house without a few quick swipes—I felt naked and childlike without it. The time eventually came when I needed to take a break. I declared 40 days of freedom from makeup of all kinds to free myself from the bondage I’d gotten myself caught up in.
The first few days were awful—nothing but insecurities and self-doubt filled my mind. But soon after the initial shock, I started to feel really alive. Suddenly I had more time on my hands, and more freedom to live my life. It may sound extreme, but I hadn’t realized what a burden it had been to coat my lashes every day only to remove it several hours later.
When I wore mascara religiously, I felt insecure; but when I let it go and opened myself to be seen by the world, I felt known. No longer did I hide behind a mask. I was just me—light eyelashes and all.
I continued my mascara fast well past those 40 days—three years to be exact—and when the time came that I felt free of my obsession, I welcomed back my old friend with open arms. Unlike before, this time I felt freedom. I could wear it every day, or choose to skip it for a week. It was a tool to enhance my natural beauty, not a tool to cover me up.
If I’m really honest with myself, I prefer life lived without mascara. I don’t see anything thing wrong with the makeup in itself, but rather I find that I am more fully Natalie when I’m without it. I know that I shine and sparkle and make people smile not because of my long, flirty lashes, but rather because God has created me to be someone special. Perhaps some people think I look better with it on, but I certainly feel better with it off.
What’s your relationship with mascara (or other forms of makeup, for that matter)? Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between like me?