Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I Went "Naked" to Work
There are two trends on Twitter: Makeup Madness Monday and Make-Free Monday. Perhaps both are to perk people up a little at the start of the week: One is indulge in buying all the makeup you can; the other is skip it altogether and pretend it's still the casual weekend. The Make-free Monday tweets feature various celebrities and bloggers sporting bare faces (or almost bare faces, complemented with special lighting and good photography). To women who rarely wear makeup or to the men, this isn't noteworthy at all. For a woman who allots about 30 minutes per day wrestling with her facial armor, this will stop you dead in your tracks.
I wear makeup about 80 percent of the time, but I can't remember a single day in the 13 years I've been in the professional workforce that I skipped it entirely. There may have been a couple days when hit the snooze button too much and had to pull some MacGyver tricks to get a quick look together. But walking out the door completely bare-faced to work was like showing up to a meeting without pants.
So yesterday I just did it - or, rather, didn't do it. I skipped makeup altogether. I even went through my purse before leaving the house and pulled out any stragglers - lipstick, a blush, gloss - in case I got cold feet once in the office.
There are studies, probably ones conducted by cosmetic companies, that say women who wear makeup to work earn more than ones who don't. I question how anyone is really able to tabulate this, but it would go through my head as a motivator on days when I wanted to skip it altogether.
When I got into the office yesterday, my coworkers were like a mirror: Only one woman did a slight double-take, but the rest of them didn't seem to notice. As the work day progressed, I forgot about it altogether. Only when I went into the bathroom did I see the difference: Because I've been wearing makeup since my mid-teens, my bare face is almost unrecognizable to me. It feels like I don't know a part of who I really am.
Years ago, I read an article by a woman who knew most doors in her life had opened because she was pretty. In a breaking point, she gained 15 pounds, stopped wearing makeup, and cut her hair. She wanted to know what life would be like without the special advantage. She wanted to get her foot in the door purely on her accomplishments and smarts.
When I skip makeup, I'm less focused on what I look like and use friendliness, humor, and other internal attributes to introduce myself. The lesson from yesterday was a good one: Once in a while, skip the makeup altogether and see what else in is your makeup.