It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. I thought I had a cute idea when I asked a handful of friends to do a little experiment with me. I invited them over to my house for brunch one chilly, drizzly February morning to participate in a little photo shoot. Warm muffins, bubbly mimosas, creamy espresso, and friends. Magic, right?

There was only one catch–NO make up. It didn’t take long for my cute little idea lose its cuteness. Some said no. Some asked questions, cringing. Some were excited. Some said nothing at all. We ended up with eight women that morning. For some, it was uncomfortable. For some, it seemed easy. The real challenge came when we saw the photos. There was gritting teeth. There was anxiety. I squirmed a little, looking into my own eyes on the computer screen and it began: “Is my face really curved like that?,” “My nose is shaped so weird,” “Why does my right eye always look kind of sloped?,” and “My eyebrows need pencil so bad!”

And I wasn’t alone. There was a unease and awkwardness in seeing them. Us. Just the way we are. Just the way we were created. It’s not something that will change overnight. One little revolutionary brunch can’t cure a disease. Not when we’ve been indoctrinated our entire lives to strive for beauty instead of finding it in the rest of just being who we are. These are the women that husbands wake up to every morning. These women are real.

If I can find a way to grab hold of it, somehow cling to that reality, I can love that girl in the mirror before she has her make up on. What difference does it make? At that point, I can adorn the beauty I have instead of trying to fabricate a beauty clone. My make-up becomes decoration instead of a mask and I have nothing to hide.

Photo Credit: Photos taken by Adrienne Sandvos. A huge thank you to the brave women who allowed me to use their pictures!