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May 3, 2013

My Real-Life Beauty Sketch

I gave up makeup for Lent, and found I really am more beautiful than I think


I’m more beautiful than I think. At least that’s what the Dove Real Beauty Sketches’ media campaign is telling me. All of this talk about natural beauty reminds me of my Lenten fast, when I gave up wearing makeup for 40 days.

Although Lent has passed, I’m still processing my experience. When I wore makeup on Easter Sunday for the first time in six weeks, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I looked silly. I didn’t feel like myself. Over the 40-some days of going makeup-free, I had grown accustomed to my natural- looking face. I loved the simplicity of not putting on makeup in the mornings, and I had even begun to see myself as beautiful.

“Your beauty goes deeper than the makeup,” singer Hunter Hayes says in his country song, “Wanted,” and that is exactly what I learned during Lent.

No matter how I look on the outside, no amount of makeup can disguise an ugly spirit. My original purpose in giving up makeup was to eliminate the façade, to let others see me as I really am, but I was only thinking about my exterior. In order to foster inner beauty, I need to be open, honest, and vulnerable. I was worried that others would think I was ugly without makeup, but it wasn’t the makeup that made me beautiful—it was who I am as a person.

During Lent I discovered I was my own worst enemy. Other people rarely noticed I wasn’t wearing makeup. They chose to focus instead on who I was as a person, not the evenness of my complexion.

One of my coworkers told me I looked good without makeup. She said I was a beautiful person, and that was what was shining through. Another friend wrote me a letter, saying I was “glowing” without it. These encouragements helped me discover that true beauty really does come from within. Instead of worrying what others thought about my appearance, all I could do was be me. I had to rely on God and who he says I am.

My goal during Lent was to pray through the fruits of the Spirit. Every day without fail, God would reveal himself as that spirit. If I needed love, he showed it to me. If I needed to be patient, he made me wait. On the first day of Lent, I wrote in my journal:

Day 1: Love. Wednesday, 13 Feb. 2013

God, I am tired, worn out and distracted. Lord, I have no plans for after graduation. During the next 40 days, give me doors to knock on, show me where they are, and have someone on the other side to greet me when I walk through. All I want to do is explore and find you. Please God, help guide my searching, direct my wanderings.

There is no denying that Lent was hard and stretching, but I was able to experience God’s faithfulness in ways I never have before. He provided for me, and now I need to trust he will continue to be with me as I go through this next stage of my life. What began as a journey to find my worth in God and who he says I am led me to the revelation that beauty is about more than makeup—it’s about who I am underneath.

Abbey Woodfin was the TCW editorial intern from January - April 2013, and is a contributor to the TCW blog.

Related Tags: Acceptance and Identity, Beauty, Lent

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