I have the privilege of working as a supervisor at Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School for Girls and also have the background of being a professional cosmetologist. Ever since I started working at Chrysalis I have been in love with the work I get to be engaged in and I love when the therapeutic work the girls are involved in intersects with some of my personal interests and background. Recently we had an event happen on campus that involved cosmetology (or lack thereof) as a means to help the students embrace their natural beauty, gain more insight into themselves, their identity, and their appearance.
Recently one of our other staff extraordinary staff members challenged the girls on campus for the duration of one month to embrace their natural beauty and not wear makeup. Several girls signed up. During the month, it was enlightening to see them conquer their inner v. outer beauty questions and concerns. To celebrate and reflect at the end of the month, we had the girls come together for a night of pampering. They did facials and nails and had snacks and hot cocoa. They watched inspirational videos around beauty and how society depicts the appearance of females. Some of the responses we received about the month were:
Q: How did this makeup free month feel overall?
- A: “There are days I really wanted to hide under a rock, but overall I felt a lot freer”
- A: “It was stressful at first, but in the end it felt really good.”
- A: “It feels really good not to wear make-up. I like myself more”
Q: Why did you participate?
- A: “To push myself.”
- A: “To break free from how chained and reliant I felt on makeup.”
- A: “I wanted to feel my skin breathe again. I forgot what it felt like.”
Q: What challenges came when you embraced your natural beauty?
- A: “It was really hard when new girls came and their first impression of me was no makeup…also when other girls dressed up, so hard not to compare myself.”
- A: “I had to look at myself in the mirror. That was hard because I had to see a raw, frumpy looking me…(which was sad.)”
- A: “Having a pimple and not being able to cover it up.”
- A: “Feeling ugly without it.”
As a professional makeup artist/cosmetologist, I was moved by this challenge. Seeing their clean faces everyday and walking through what it means to appreciate inner beauty was incredible. I believe the value of this challenge hit home as I have witnessed a lot of these girls not rely on makeup following this experience. The students expressed a desire for more challenges to help them focus more on feminism and finding value in things other than your clothing, skin color, height or weight. It is inspiring and amazing to watch these brave young women focus more on developing their internal identity instead of being overly preoccupied with their external appearance.
– By Kristen Thomas