Mak(upless)ing a Change.

By Maura Sheedy – 12th Grade, Oakland Catholic High School

By far, the most rewarding experience I’ve had was my decision to spend a year without makeup.  Like most teenagers, looks are a huge part of my life, whether or not I’d like to admit it.  One afternoon at the beginning of my junior year during a conversation with my friends about our makeup, outfits, and hair for later that night, I couldn’t help but thinking how much time, energy, and money is devoted to looking “perfect”. Then the idea hit me. “Guys what if I went an entire year without makeup?” My friends immediately doubted that I would be able to keep up with it for a full year. However, their doubt and my strong will only encouraged me to want to prove them wrong.  I excitably began to tell them my forming plans and soon they were taking me seriously and supporting my decision.  One friend even suggested that I blog about it, suggesting “Makeupless Maura” for a username, given the catchy ring.  That night, I ironically left with makeup on, but I also left with the plan to begin a year without makeup starting that Monday and plans to create an Instagram account to document the daily life of a makeup-free high schooler in the twenty-first century.

My account became my most treasured activity for twelve months.  I posted makeup-free updates, positive encouragement, rants on social expectations of beauty, natural makeup recipes, even interviews with random males I stopped on the street on the subject of makeup, as well as my own experience with makeup and body image.  My goal was to dive as deep as I could into the issue and explore all sides.  When people followed the account, they always seemed so surprised at the length and dedication of the project.  I eventually reasoned that this response was because of the society we live in; almost everywhere we look, we see photos of heavily retouched and edited models which create unrealistic expectations that we can only try to achieve with the help of makeup.  It can seem that having blemish- free skin, full lips, and rosy cheeks is the only way to look and feel good.

“Makeupless maura” then became about doing my part to change the face of the beauty industry, promoting overall self-acceptance.  Since I received so much positive feedback and comments from social media users around the world, I like to think that, in a small way, I inspired people to reconsider the idea that beauty is only associated with makeup and that I brought awareness to the flaws of the beauty industry.

More personally, I solved problems within myself.  I have had my fair share of discontent with the way my face, skin, or body looks.  As I spent more and more time without makeup, I began to find peace with my natural self that improved my confidence in a way for which I will always be grateful, and which carried over to having more confidence in my ideas, beliefs, and who I am as a person. I hope that I proved that it is possible to not wear makeup and still have a fulfilling and fun life.  I hope to continue to reshape the way people think about beauty and inspire others to be confident in their skin, with or without makeup.

After all, beauty is only skin deep.

Maura Sheedy 1 Maura Sheedy is a senior at Oakland Catholic High School who lives in Thornburg.  She previously has been a part of Young Writers Institute.  She considers random things she has seen on the Internet to be her muse for her writing. She enjoys lacrosse, cheer, dance, and blogging.

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