In my opinion, looks matter to an extent. I want to look presentable. Put together. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, but it becomes a problem when looks determine self-worth. Total buzz kill. One interesting tidbit I pulled from Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall is that "a woman's body image accounts for almost 10 percent of her husband's overall marital satisfaction and 19 percent of her own marital satisfaction" (p. 9). I practically raised my hand and nodded my head in agreement as I read that. I admit that feeling unattractive and self-conscious makes me isolate myself from my husband which makes getting flirty and frisky... well, non-existent, and that makes for an even more unhappy Lindsay.
One day without mirrors didn't seem so bad, so I e-mailed Kjerstin with a fully committed, "I'm in on the challenge! Let's do this!" ... and then I thought about it. Unlike Kjerstin, I did not have practice applying basic make-up without a mirror which meant I just committed to a day of being in public with no make-up, not knowing how my clothes looked on me, and managing my "wild woman" hair simply by touch.
I'll admit that I felt too self-conscious to do this experiment on a work day. However, I purposely chose a Saturday when I knew I'd be out and about with Mr. TBS. We ran errands, went grocery shopping, and went out to lunch. I realized how habitual looking in the mirror is for me. Brushing my teeth, doing my make-up, getting dressed, fixing my hair, washing my hands, walking past the full-length mirror in the den, and putting on gloss in the car are prime mirror times. If there is a mirror on a wall, chances are I'll look in it.
Kjerstin's focus was on body acceptance. Surprisingly, being sans make-up was giving me the most anxiety, so my focus was bare face acceptance. I'm lucky, because my husband hates heavy make-up, so I never feel pressured to sexify my make-up. (Don't get him started on the smokey eye, red lips, or foundation!) Conventionally, I know I'm prettier with make-up. I have a myriad of flaws I could list but won't. If someone else doesn't notice them right away, why point them out? ;)
I love the feeling of my skin sans make-up, but I've realized that I'm annoyingly apologetic about my looks. I apologize to my husband when I decide to skip make-up. I apologize to him when I don't style my hair with curling gel or a flat iron. I apologize for being "so short." I apologize for ruining a picture, because the lighting brought out the bags under my eyes. I'm annoyed just thinking about it, because when I am more removed from those feelings, I realize how shallow those words are. Focusing on looks alone diminishes intelligence, talent, compassion, and wit. It's disappointing to think of how often I say those things out loud and to myself.
Typing these words here makes me feel icky, because they wreak of teen angst and compliment fishing -- not to mention they make me feel like such an anti-feminist. Since I clearly need a swift kick in the pants, I'm going to do something way outside of my comfort zone and show you my sans-make-up face.
BOOM. There I am in all my naked (face) glory. My hair was unwashed and unbrushed from the day before. As uncomfortable/embarrassed as I feel posting that, it's not the end of the world. I'm not going to indulge in the typical #sorrynotsorry/"Sorry you have to see that" blogger business. There's my bare face, and I'm okay with that (or at least, I'm trying to be).
In short, the challenge wasn't easy, because a) I use mirrors out of convenience and habit and b) I'm uncomfortable when I don't know how I am physically presenting myself to others. I came away with more than just "I did it." This was a really good exercise in acceptance and focusing on important things -- like an afternoon with my husband.