Growing up, my mom never really said anything to either my sister or me about makeup. It wasn’t until I was getting ready for a date once and I casually asked my mom, “Do you think I should put some makeup on?” that I realized something unique was happening.
What I remember her saying during that conversation is something along the lines of, “A little blush and some mascara is all you need. It’ll brighten up your face a bit.”
No foundation, no concealer, no eyeliner or eye shadow and definitely no contouring. Her advice was to brighten—not to cover or conceal or change. Lately, I’ve realized that this little story about makeup is a perfect representation of how my mother raised me as a whole.
Teaching me to be myself
Looking back on my childhood, one of my favorite things about my mom is that she never let makeup get in the way of her life. She never had to “put her face on” before we could go somewhere or do something, and she instilled that in my sister and me by never making us feel like we needed to look a certain way in order to fit in or accomplish something. Whether it was running errands on the way home from a sweaty workout, or picking us kids up from school with an I-just-cleaned-the-house-all-day messy ponytail, my mom was always herself. By doing so, she gave my sister and me the freedom to be ourselves too.
Now, as an adult, I would describe my relationship with makeup as a luxury. It’s fun and can be really nice if I want to feel fancy for a special occasion or if I want to cover up an obnoxious breakout, but I don’t need it to function and I definitely don’t need it to be me.
Not only has my mom’s relationship with makeup influenced how I view myself, it has also taught me a lot about my faith.
It’s incredibly easy to adopt habits of cultural Christianity for the same reason that many women use makeup—in order to reach a certain standard of perfection. Women lather themselves with all sorts of creams and colors in order to elevate themselves to the standard of beauty they see glorified around them in society. Similarly, many Christians adopt certain social practices for no other reason than to better fit in with the image of what society thinks a Christian ought to be.
But no matter how many coats of mascara you put on, and no matter how many times you share that “I heart Jesus” post on Facebook, it won’t cover up or change the reality of your faith.
More than just skin deep
As Christians we need to be committed to authenticity, to presenting our true selves to those around us as we seek to share our faith and live our lives. Beauty, and a person’s intrinsic value, has to do with so much more than anything we can project or alter externally. Likewise, faith is infinitely more than just an outward conformance through the places we go, the things we say and what we wear.
As mothers lovingly tell their daughters, “It’s what’s inside that counts,” so must we seek to cultivate a faith that is more than just skin deep.