Baring My Skin

Shelby - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Entered on January 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

A few nights ago I read an essay by Benjamin Barber called “Jihad vs. McWorld.” In it, Barber described his idea of the “McWorld” as the part of modern society that tries to mold all people into modernized clones of one another, drinking Starbucks and toting around Vera Bradley bags. It almost seems that today’s culture strives to remove culture from the world, and this breaks my heart. As much as I agree that the world should be unified, and that the spread of information and technology should continue, I can’t help but be terrified by this de-culturization.

A large portion of this terror is due to my strong belief in the individual. I feel that each person is like a specifically cut piece in a giant jigsaw puzzle, distinct from all others but necessary for the world to be complete. Therefore, I feel that the world of painting yourself to look like the people in movies should be discarded for a world that fully embraces the “flaws” that make us the beautiful people we really are.

Too often, people feel that they aren’t beautiful. Too often, I feel that I am not beautiful. I think I’m too fat, or that my hair is an unmanageable rat’s nest, or that my figure looks more like a lump of mashed potatoes than a young woman. I can’t help it.

But what I can do is try to hold onto these bits of myself rather than masking them or altering them artificially. Since about the age of eight, when I gave up my play kit of eye shadow and body glitter, I haven’t used makeup. Besides being forced into stage makeup on the rare occasions that I didn’t manage to sneak by the parent volunteers, I’ve left my face bare. I’ve let myself be out there for all the world to see – even on the worst of days.

Everyone has some level of self-consciousness about the way they look, but this practice reminds me that I should love myself for my appearance. Since I made the decision not to wear makeup, I’ve grown from someone who hated everything about the way she looked to someone who embraced it. This is not to say that I’m vain, in fact I’m far from it. But I have managed to find the inner beauty of myself, and that has made me a generally happier person.

When I first decided that makeup wasn’t for me, I hadn’t put as much thought into it as I have now. But now, I am glad that I made the choice that allowed me to discover the joy of being myself. I hope that more people can discover the same joy by making steps toward being more honest with themselves instead of slipping through the cracks into the McWorld.

I’m not looking forward to a world of identical robots.

I’m looking forward to a world of individuals.

A world for everyone.