Can you imagine going out with your friends or attending a wedding without wearing any makeup? Nisha Kharé talks about the tenuous bonds between self esteem, our sense of beauty and our relationship with makeup.
Story by Nisha Kharé
When people crop, edit, and filter their photos, people are constructing the persona that they want the world to view. I went through a process of deconstruction for Raw Beauty Talks, a website founded by Erin Treloar, featuring interviews and pictures of women with no makeup, no filters and no photoshop. Melissa Gidney, the photographer, asked me to arrive on set with no make-up, no hair prep, no pretence. Just me, the real Nisha.
I realized that I would need to let go of the beauty persona I had constructed for myself over the years. And it was ok. It was ok because someone had created a formal process that required me to be the “real” me, free of any facade. Then panic set in…what had I agreed to? Was I crazy? I was going to expose myself to the world. Was I committing the suicide of my public identity by showing my canvas sans paint? I had agreed to do it and there was no backing out, so I talked to every woman I met about the process. Many looked at me wide eyed. Some said “don’t worry”, some said “just wear a little makeup” and some said, “screw it, don’t do it”. Makeup has become a staple for so many of us. A necessary part of our identity and how we project ourselves to the world. Just as we don’t walk out without a shirt on, we can feel naked without makeup. Don’t get me wrong, I think makeup and getting dolled up is great, but when did it become a necessity? When did I become hesitant to leave the house without at least a little mascara or lip gloss on? Why was my confidence wrapped up in a mask?
The more I talked with other women, the more I realized I had to go through with it. One woman I met at a speaking conference said I had to do it for all the little girls out there who needed to know it was ok to be themselves. It was a very powerful conversation with a stranger…in a bathroom. We even hugged. Raw beauty was already talking to me. Life was testing me to see if I was on the right path…a path of artifice or a path of authenticity.
I wanted to be real, so the morning of the photo shoot, I looked at my real self in the mirror…and I cried. What was going on? Had I never seen myself before? Was it that bad? Honestly, I don’t know what happened, but it was an emotional release. I panicked as I looked at my naturally curly hair. There were huge atrocities in the world, and I was emotional about my hair?! I knew it was preposterous, but I couldn’t help it. I freaked and nearly washed it again so that I could do it straight. Then I called my cousin and she reassured me that my naturally dried hair looked fine. I didn’t believe her and then in between my tears, she gave up and said, “Ok, go wash it.” That’s when I got real. It’s just hair, and it was fine. I had to let go of control and be accepting of myself. Or at least keep it together until after the shoot.
So I did it. With every click of the camera, I could feel my inner strength growing. I was experiencing something deeper…I felt exposed, raw, real. It was a transforming and life changing experience. Who knew that leaving my face bare would feel so liberating. So many emotions were brought up. I felt terrified, determined, dedicated, hesitant, humbled, peaceful, accepting, elated. Beautiful. And I shared it with the world through my social media forums. The same forums that I post my modeling, speaking and family shots on, that I construct my social persona on. Yet this was more real, even more personal…and it was refreshing.
Nisha’s photograph via Raw Beauty Talks Instagram
Just after the shoot, I had gotten back from a trip. A week later, I was looking for my makeup bag. As I’m a procrastinator in a few areas, unpacking being one of them, I found it still in my suitcase! Then it donned on me…I had been walking around without makeup the entire week! I was shocked that I did it without thinking and maybe even more so that no one had looked at me or treated me any differently. Perhaps, how we view our own persona and how we go about perpetuating it is the truly constraining construct. And perhaps this is what we need to edit, filter, change.
Story By: Nisha Kharé BA, BEd, MEd, RCC. Visit her at Kharé Communications.