If you've ever read anything anywhere about self acceptance you will know that you must love every part of your face and body completely, no exceptions. Well not quite but it feels a bit like that sometimes. No one loves everything about themselves, I can say this quite confidently because rumour has it Giselle Bundchen has had cosmetic surgery. Giselle Bundchen's God given body is unreal, so if she felt the need for some 'help' I'm happy to be a card carrying member of club body issues. This mission was not about loving how I look, it was about accepting it.
My mission was not to wear make up. For anyone who knows me personally this might seem like a strange one because I'm not really a beauty addict. In part this was due to practicality. As a teen in the 90s, when I should have been establishing my make up practices, the only shades available were chalky white and ever so slightly off white but mainly it's because I don't use make up in the fun, whimsical way I imagine other women do; I use it as an active prayer - please, please, please make me look just a little bit better.
I got my first zit at about twelve and crazy as it sounds I was excited about it. I was one of those kids that was forever desperate to hurtle through whatever tedious life stage I was grappling with and get stuck into the next one. In the (heartstoppingly worrying) absence of my official womanhood signifying menstruation*, this collection of dead matter and hormones was at least a small confirmation of my ascent into my teenage years. I fussed over it like one would a new pet. Sadly zits are like the proverbial bus, you spend all day waiting for one and then three come at once. After that, three more and then within a year the most bumper of crops.
The beautiful thing about growing up in England is we're very good at politely ignoring the things right in front of our noses. Nevertheless that kindness didn't stop me feeling self conscious, didn't stop me hiding in shadows and judging the success of the day by the clarity of my skin. I have many zit relates memories but one of the most prominent involved my school friend Michele Chow. Michele Chow was one of four beautiful (clear skinned) sisters and Mrs Chow was the original cool mom. She basically had an open house and was completely unfazed by any random girls that might appear at her breakfast table after a late night hitting the hottest spots of Beckenham High Street. One morning I was revelling in the loud, relaxed, sitcom perfect bosom of their family when the youngest of the Chow sisters said, especially loudly, 'What's wrong with your face?' I felt like the emperor freezing his butt off in his new clothes.
So make up to me is a bit of an amour; an attempt to camouflage the insecure teenager inside. Going without it for a week felt like more of a punishment than a mission. Before you grow concerned that you will still be reading this post as you welcome your first grandchild into the world, I'll let you know that this is one of those missions that allows me to bask in a ridiculously self indulgent intro because the lessons were fast, furious and in this case, pleasantly predictable. The first couple of days were quite lovely. I was just barrelling around town with Roscoe and it was really nice to be able to dispense with my daily dose of mama guilt as I ignore my child to put on my face. The third day was tougher. I had cause to dress up and not wearing make up made me feel so unfinished, I can't say anyone noticed but I did and several times I found myself itching to chuck on some slap. The fourth day I cheated. I had a professional meeting and I couldn't bear the thought that my unmade face would be perceived as a lack of effort. I got through the day with the added confidence that two more millimetres of eyelash can produce. The next day, however, I was riddled with guilt about the fact that I had not been true to myself and had cheated on my mission and that guilt manifested itself as two massive zits right in the middle of my cake hole. I mean massive, not some petty little pimples but the kind of volcanoes that twenty MAC make up artists and a truck load of concealer could have no hope of diminishing; I was sincerely tempted to chuck some glitter on the suckers and make them a feature. So I went around with my bare face and my two new friends and you know what happened? Nothing. The world kept turning, people still smiled politely at my awkward jokes and my son still loved me as freely and fiercely as he does every day, perhaps more so because I wasn't fussing about him smudging my lipgloss. What did I learn? I learned that accepting the skin you're in is not about displaying your insecurities to the world all day, everyday. It's about knowing that you could do it if you had to but being really bloody grateful that you don't.
*it still makes me chuckle every month how eager I was to start this evil process.