The Face Off Challenge: Taking on the Female Body Image and Social Superficiality

My friend Susan shares her challenge to women to take a look at their true faces and let go of make-up. To join the Face Off challenge on Facebook, click on this link.

Watching Myself, Face-to-Face
I stare into the mirror in my bathroom. The not so flattering light is enhancing every blemish, everything I see as a flaw. I’m holding a worn out make-up brush in one hand and foundation in another. Why is it so disappointing to have the need to cover up who I truly am? I was all too familiar with this topic. After all, I have been battling with severe acne for over 15 years. At that moment I put down the make-up and compassionately looked at myself in the mirror. I stared and just looked.  After I got past examining every blemish I could finally see the real me. I saw a beautiful woman. This is how I came to conclusion to present the “Face OFF Challenge” to every woman.

Why Should I Do This?
This challenge goes beyond promising yourself not to wear any make-up at all for 2 weeks straight starting DECEMBER 12, 2010. It shouldn’t even be presented as a challenge but an opportunity to know yourself on a deeper level. Now you must be thinking that either the lack of make-up isn’t going to change your self image or the mere thought of it gives you a bit of anxiety. The question is how would you really know if you didn’t try? This is an opportunity to see just how healthy your self image is, how closely you watch your ego, how you interact differently in society, as well as notice the physical changes of your skin. This is an opportunity to know your True self and heal the pain/issues that are brought to the surface.

You Make the Rules

I want to cultivate this experience to its fullest potential. The outcome of this experience depends upon the intention you put into it. Since it is your experience, you should have the final say in what the rules should be. I felt it necessary to stop wearing ANY form of makeup (eyeliner, foundation, blush, eyeshadow, concealer, lip color, mascara). If you are a woman that only wears mascara then perhaps you can stop wearing that. On the opposite spectrum, if you can't take out the trash without having your "face" on, then perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to make a drastic change.

In addition, I do not want to make up any excuses to wear makeup. This includes not wearing make-up for any special events, social events, holidays, work meetings, etc. It forces you to be your true self in all situations. Many women, including myself, feel that wearing make-up can give you the extra boost of confidence for a specific event. So far my experience has revealed that I was using make-up as a type of veil, inhibiting others from seeing who I truly am. I also wonder if it is really that important what others think of me. If so, wouldn't that be an indication I don't truly love myself?

There is no particular reason why I chose to keep the contract with myself for 2 weeks. Many studies say it takes 3 weeks to change a behavior. I started the challenge 6 days ago. The first few days were the most challenging for me. I realized Face OFF is more than not wearing make-up on your day off nestled in the privacy of your home. Once the two weeks is up I predict that you may continue the challenge due to the resulting benefits, start wearing considerably less make-up, or decide the timing for the challenge wasn't right, hence causing you to wear the same amount of make-up (if not, more).

The Experience
Every woman's Face OFF experience is going to be different, some more dramatic than others. I can only hope sharing my experience will encourage you and help you know that you are not alone.

Issues and insecurities I didn’t even know I had immediately began to surface. They were mainly associated with my acne. Looking at myself in the mirror forced me to embrace the impermanence of age. Our form is always changing.

When interacting with others I could only question myself if the other person was judging my acne and therefore judging who I was as a person. Society has conditioned women to have this initial reaction. Society has a completely different viewpoint on make-up. The general population says if you wear make-up, then it shows you care about your appearance. If not, then you don't have self confidence. This theory can be compared to the "you are what you wear" concept as in preparing for a job interview. In the past I felt more comfortable not wearing make-up around close friends/family but not others. I realized I was looking to an outside source to make me feel accepted in society rather than realizing I already had acceptance/happiness within myself.

The opportunity also forced me to actively make a change in improving the health of my skin. By focusing my intention on improving my skin, small but incredibly meaningful events started to occur.  I was standing in aisle and staring for 5 minutes at all the natural skin products at the Food Co-op in Pittsburgh. Just as frustration started to set in, another customer started to chat with me. She shared her story about her acne experience and then proceeded to tell me about the natural regimens she used. Our acne histories were uncommonly similar. I immediately realized this was a blessing from God. The thirty minute conversation with this incredible woman was undoubtedly a blessing from God. That day I began an all natural regimen for the first time which consisted of cleansing with a mild all natural soap (oatmeal, clay, or aloe) followed by applying hand-squeezed lemon juice with a cotton ball. I also started applying all natural Indian clay once a week.

I can already notice improvements in my skin. As each day passes I am becoming increasingly aware of how I interact with others, being evermore in the present moment. I keep a close watch on my ego. Just being aware of how I am feeling and letting the emotions flow through me helps tremendously. This amazing opportunity has helped me realize that I don’t need make-up to help me feel beautiful. Every day I am learning that I am perfect in all of my imperfections.

Susan started to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator four years ago when she was introduced to the works of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now" by Jim Tolles. Her life has been transformed in countless ways since then.


  1. Interesting challenge! In college, I remember writing a paper about how makeup was a mask. Now, as a 35 year old, I can't imagine not wearing makeup in some social situations, such as my husband's work holiday party. It is eyeopening to look at the reasons why I feel that way. This is intriguing.

  2. This is a really great challenge. Especially Hardcore as the challenge dates take people through the holidays. I am so glad Susan has found some answers (which is how the universe works, right, once we allow ourselves the opportunity to listen). It really is inspiring and I think a lot of women could benefit from this form of thinking.

  3. Would love to read a follow-up to this article. How long did you go without make-up? do you wear it now? And anything else you would like to add...



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