I Gave up Makeup for a Month…Here’s What I Found.

I was seventeen years old when I first cracked open a bottle of mascara.  Granted, if it had been completely up to me, I would have been a makeup aisle regular long before the tender age of seventeen.  I had been eyeing makeup tutorials since freshman year of high school, and the countdown til the age of initiation into the makeup-wearers club seemed to tick away subconsciously until that blessed day.

Then the birthday rolled around, along with a select amount of makeup items and I integrated makeup into my morning routine almost immediately.  Granted, yes, it did add time to my already busy morning schedule (that mostly consisted of sleeping in twice past my alarm and drinking numerous cups of coffee) but it I thought it was worth it.  I felt polished, pretty, noticeable.

You were born to be real, not to be perfect | 22 Quotes About Self-Confidence That Will Brighten Up Your Life: Yet, for a variety of reasons, I decided to give up makeup for a month.  When preparing, I thought that as the amount of makeup on my face diminished, so would my self-confidence, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

During all my time on Pinterest or YouTube, trying to find the perfect make-up routine, I had forgotten that I wasn’t supposed to be perfect (in the physical sense of the word).  Instead, I was meant to be real – myself – and confident in who I was created to be.

Then I turned to my Bible for reassurance before the whole experiment started, and I couldn’t have found more assurance and love than in the words that the God who created me wrote for me.

In Jeremiah 31:3, I was told by a Divine Lover that He had loved me long before I had put makeup on.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, He spoke and said that I was being transformed to be more like Him everyday.  In Psalm 46:5, He told me that as I find my confidence, faith and trust in Him, I would have His help at the break of every day.

Thus, the month began.  Benefits abounded – there was something freeing about being able to take off my glasses and rub my eyes when I was tired without having to worry about black eyeliner streaking on my face.  There was a confidence felt in the assurance that people interacting with me were getting to see me for me – my personality, my quirks and Chloe-isms, and not just for what I looked like.  Slowly but surely, I was taking off a mask.

And no one said anything.

Not one thing.  Not at work, school, or social nights with friends.  Not at the coffee house, the drive-through or the line at the grocery store.

“I struggle with my skin, but who doesn’t? There will always be something about ourselves that we find troubling, but in the end, we have love and that is worth more than all the accolades we could have ever received for being beautiful” – Christopher Poindexter 

As my normal interactions with those who came in and out of my life continued throughout the month, my confidence didn’t diminish…it grew.  I was delighting in being seen for myself, and realizing that the weight that I put on my shoulders, this pressure to look perfect, was not a shared burden with those in my life who were close to my heart.  I was not being told by my closest friends that things had changed, or that they noticed I didn’t look right.

I discovered that if I viewed makeup as a mixture of colors and pallets used to make ugly things beautiful, than I was doing makeup {and life} wrong.  Makeup is a way in which to magnify a beauty that already exists.  It’s a morning routine that shouldn’t cover up or distract from the beauty that comes from within – confidence, self-esteem and an awareness of the fact that God doesn’t make mistakes.

Then, finally on the day I had designated as the end of my makeup fast, I pulled out my makeup bag from the cabinet it had sat in, untouched for almost thirty days.  And it felt different, putting on lipstick and making sure everything was in place for stepping outside the door.  I’m not saying that women shouldn’t put effort into how they look, but it was strange to have to map out time for my morning routine again, instead of just waking up and delving into the day.

I learned that I want to be beautiful – a desire that had been in my heart while I had been anxiously waiting to be allowed to wear makeup just as much as it was a desire when I had my own little case full of colors sitting on the bathroom counter.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis 

Double exposure portraits: a simple tutorial for making surrealist images: My desire is still to be beautiful – but not like the pictures of the super models and Miss Universes or the photo-shopped falsity that is plastered across the grocery store check out lanes and billboards on the highway.  I want to be beautiful for the way that I think, the crazy thoughts that run through my head that with hard work and a lot of prayer from my friends upstairs, can be turned into a reality.

I want to be beautiful for the way I can make people smile and laugh and forget their worries, even if it’s just for a little while.  I don’t want to be labeled as beautiful for something that will fade – whether that be my lipstick color or even my physical appearance in a more general sense.  I want to be beautiful at a soul level – and that is something that cannot be attained by an eye shadow shade.

“That’s the thing about inner beauty: unlike physical beauty, which grabs the spotlight for itself, inner beauty shines on everyone, catching them, holding them in its embrace and making them more beautiful too.” 

Ascension Presents…Good News and Good Media

6:30am: I wake up, well if you can call me ‘awake.’  Light is streaming into my bedroom but I’d rather just hit the snooze button and slip back into sleep.  But the phone persists, so I get up and shut it off.  And turn on my notifications to see if anyone has texted me.

8:30am: Morning Mass is done, so I say quick good morning’s and hello’s to the fellow sleepy eyed pilgrims on the journey to holiness and slip out to my car.  I have just a quick break for coffee and a car radio before class starts.  But before I pull out of the parking lot, I check to see if anything interesting has happened on Facebook while I was at Mass.

11:00am: Classes are done, and I’m off to work for the day.  My tests and assignments sitting snugly in the backseat.  I hurry along the busy streets, but at the stoplights, I’ll pull out my phone and check if there was anything that I had missed.

1:00pm: E-mails flood my inbox as the rest of the social media world begins to find it’s way into my life.  Work e-mails, school e-mails, student organization e-mails, and quick notes from friends swirl around, a constant sound of noise and interaction. 

6:00pm: Off of work, and onto night activities with friends, bible studies, dinners, or just homework.  Yet either way I flip on my screen to start up my drive home tunes, and return any calls that came through that day.

12:35am: Bed, finally.  My sleep eyes close, but I snap awake one last time to run down the dark stairway and plug in my phone so that the day can start on time in a few short hours.

Seem like something you can relate to? If you are like me, you may identify with the fact that millennials, according to The Wall Street Journal, can be present on some form of media 18 hours a day.  18 hours a day. 

What are we consuming?  Is it making us healthier? Happier? More content with the world we live in?  What about our faith life?  Are we growing closer to God through the media we choose to fill and crowd our lives with?  Does God even have a place in our media?  

I say yes.  And so does Ascension Press.   Oh, and so does Saint John Paul II, who once said, “The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message.”  So if JPII agrees….what else do we need?
Ascension Press has recently released a new evangelistic platform called Ascension Presents.  It’s goal is to bring ‘entertaining, faith-filled, and dynamic presenters straight into your news feed.  By providing engaging content for our audience that reflects the good, the true, and the beautiful, we hope to bring their hearts closer to Christ.”

Good media….for God purposes.  

And they’ve done a fantastic job.  The website is chock full of amazing content, phenomenal presenters and great subjects.  There are four channels – different aspects of the faith life and media world to explore.

Father Mike Schmitz runs a channel himself, with videos concerning current events, movies, vocational discernment and the Bible.  Videos run about seven to eight minutes long and are formatted so that it feels like Father Mike is just sitting in your study room, having an old fashioned conversation with you.  The human connection.  Centered in Christ.  

In the promotional video for Ascension presents, Father Mike can be seen hanging with young adults around a outdoor patio.  Can we just make pocket sized Father Mike Schmitzs?  That way everyone can have a fantastic priest who really wants to connect with you on a personal level available anytime.

But because that isn’t a real possibiliity (yet, I’m still working on the science side of the cloning option), #askfrmike is a hashtag that was recently was released through the video series, which will allow viewers to interact with Father Mike as he answers questions that they may have about faith or life in general.

Father Mike is not the only big name of the Catholic world that can be found on Ascension presents.  Another channel is called “Caffeinated Conversations.”  In these video segments, Ascension Presents producer, Maria Mitchell, sits down with some amazing people in the Catholic media today.

Can we take a quick pause and appreciate the sheer awesomeness of this combination?  Maria is sitting there with people like Emily Wilson and Jason and Crystalina Evert(and their adorable newest little baby) while making coffee for them and life chatting.

Life chats.  Amazing Catholics.  Coffee.  Be right back, fangirling. 

There you can find interviews with Emily Wilson as she chats about fashion and relationships in the modern world, Bob Lesnefsky and Dirty Vagabond Ministries in Steubenville, and even the beautiful and talented Jackie Francois, as she chats about her newest little and authentic friendships and relationships.

Guys, it keeps getting better.  Hold onto your seats.

If I were to say what my all time favorite aspect of being a Catholic is, it would be that I believe in a faith where I will never know everything…there is always something to learn that will blow my mind about the beauty of God’s amazing grace and constant love.  The third channel on Ascension Presents does just that.  A series of videos that not only teaches the beauty of the faith, but combines it with amazing visuals of the Holy Land and the wisdom of people like Jeff Cavins, who has visited and studied the Bible and pilgrim sites for years.  But also in the studies channel is how-to guides on subjects such as prayer (ever wondered how to pray Lectio Divina?) and understanding the beauty of the Virgin Mary (What does perpetual virginity really mean?) 

Finally, the fourth channel of Ascension Presents is a beautiful mixture of cultural awareness.  Videos with topics such as the recently released Planned Parenthood scandal are followed by gorgeous music by the Ike Ndolo Band and Emily Wilson and their new song “Land of the Rising Sun.”  

Ascension Presents knocks it out of the park with their newest platform that appeals to young adults. Like their page on Facebook and be pleasantly surprised with the gorgeous artwork and articles that flood your feed.  Enter your e-mail onto their website and you can have their news delivered to your inbox on a weekly or monthly basis. 

The Faith does not mean an alienation from any culture for any people because all cultures await Christ and are not destroyed by the Lord.  In fact, they reach their maturity.
  – Pope Benedict XVI