I have been doing something new lately. More and more frequently. Something I didn't think I would ever do. And when I consciously thought about it today I decided to take a selfie, document, and share for our benefit. As a reminder to myself first.
There was a time I would never have taken, much less posted this picture of me with a naked face.
I have been going out without wearing makeup! It has become less and less imperative for me to cover up, hide or change what I have been naturally gifted by our Creator. Covering up the way I have been perfectly designed and crafted by God.
As far as I can remember I was very self-conscious about the way I looked, not necessarily body image but my face. I spent years buying concealers to cover up my dark circles and dark patches on my face. Praise God I didn’t obsess over the color of my skin, although I did wish I was lighter skin but did not obsess over it. Shadeism is for another blog post.
As far back as I can remember I compared myself in every category but especially in physical looks. Someone else was prettier, lighter skin, better nose, cheekbones, forehead, teeth, or smile. Oh My Gosh! When I think about the years I put my hand across my mouth when I laughed or smiled so not to expose my teeth or gums…which were too gummy and my smile wasn’t good enough. I felt there was something wrong with it and had to be hidden.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love playing around with makeup, the fun colors and different effects it has on my face. I still continue to wear it, but what’s changed is that I don’t feel I have to “put my face on” when I leave the house or go on camera/video. I don’t feel I have to hide behind a mask, externally or internally. This is a huge shift for me. I can BE ME from the inside and outside. I don’t have to change anything about myself externally or internally to be worthy, valuable and good enough.
I first became aware of this self-imposed obligation when I went to perform Umrah with my mom and sister in 2016. Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where the Kaaba is (the house of God). Being a guest of the Creator of the whole Universe was a big deal. Umrah is considered a mini Hajj which can be performed at any time during the year, except Hajj time. Unlike Hajj which is obligatory and can only be done in a specific month, umrah can be done at any time of year.
Umrah is a spiritual voyage towards God, leaving everything behind just to ask forgiveness and renewal from the Almighty, knowing God will never disappoint you. It brings about a calmness within yourself, renews your mind and soul and purifies you from within.
When we go to perform this ritual act of worship we come to our Lord naked, exposed, as is. Physically, it means no creams, lotions, makeup etc to cover our face and bodies. Au natural, if you will. Just our clothing which covers everything but the face, hands, and feet. All men wear the same white cloth covering in the same manner while women don’t have restrictions on color or type of clothing as long as the body including head is covered in a modest fashion. This is to signify that all humans are the same in the eyes of our Creator, no matter the financial wealth, status, degrees of formal education, etc. In God's eyes, we are differentiated by our actions and deeds. We go with what we have to offer with intention, sincerity, and actions, two of which only God is aware of; intention and sincerity.
As we were getting dressed I realized I will be going out without my basic makeup or shall I say coverup? A wave of self-consciousness came over me. Feelings of am I good enough as is? Am I worthy of people liking and accepting me as is? How will I look to the public?
The reality was I didn't like what I saw of my physical appearance so of course, how could anyone else?
When I started to think about the logic of my mindset it dawned on me, wait a minute, if God loves me as is, if I am good enough to be a magnificent creation and servant of God, then I am good enough! Full Stop!
As I headed out to the Kaaba, I was consoled by this new way of thinking for me, but still a bit self-conscious. This consolation made it easier to focus on my act of worship as solely between myself and God. No middle person (what would people think of me) in between. This act of worship wasn’t about anyone else. My life wasn’t about anyone else..it starts from my connection and relationship with God and then myself. How I interact and perceive my relationship with everyone else stems from those 2 essential relationships. 1. With God 2. With myself.
Now there are many reasons why I assumed and thought negatively of myself starting with my self-talk and my inner dialogue. Including the messages, I received from people and advertisements about what constitutes beauty and worthiness. When you are young, you and even the adults in your life don’t consciously pay attention to what you are feeding your mind and the lasting impact it has on the way you perceive yourself and the way you live your life.
As we grow into an adult and when we take ownership and responsibility for our choices and actions we are truly free and empowered.
My journey took me from inner self-hate, loathing, and unworthiness to self-love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, took me about forty years. I am still growing and evolving. The starting point was looking within and to my 2 essential relationships for all my answers. Feeling comfortable enough “in my own skin” to not feel compelled to put on my face or wear my mask took some time to manifest in this way. It was through my journey to knowing and loving myself and Creator.
In fact, someone told me this past weekend who I have seen off and on for 20 years that I am aging backward. In fact, I’ve been told this several times in the last few years.
The less weight you carry in your mind gives you more peace of mind. Peace of mind is a natural aging serum. It makes you feel and look younger. You can’t attain this from the physical or external route although people try and it is a billion plus dollar industry. This can only be attained through spiritual purification of the heart, mind, and soul which manifests through the physical body.
Looking at this selfie I feel good, (enough), full inside, content, whole, complete, no void or brokenness. I never thought in my wildest dreams this was possible for me. I also believed I had to achieve some type of status, which is dependent on what others thought of me to live in self-confidence and authenticity. My internal growth has allowed me to be unapologetically authentic in how I show up for my self, relationships and in everything I do. It all stems from focusing on our two essential relationships with: 1. Allah and 2. Self
What I would like to leave you with is I am human just like you, in that regard every human being evolves and grows to reach their potential. If this is possible for me it is possible for anyone, including you.
I encourage you to share your journey of self-perception, and photos of your true beautiful self with me [email protected]
After divorce many times, women reflect on their identity and their sense of self. This journey of self-discovery is lifelong: the one of knowing yourself and knowing your Creator.
If you want to get started on your journey of self discovery, self-love, and acceptance, connect with me at www.meetrayesa.com