Bella

Photo By: Alex Radelich

INTRO:

I skipped over to Alex & peeked over his shoulder to see the shots we had just taken.
As he clicked through the photos on the camera,
I shuttered in disgust & my stomach tied in a knot.
“Really?” He asked.
“I didn’t think that’s what I looked like” I said.
We were set up in a small apartment photography studio with a giant light, a stool, and a dark backdrop.
I met up with Alex earlier that week and when he suggested that we do a shoot together I said: “Let’s do some portraits in a studio with no makeup.”
He told me that was the craziest thing he has ever heard a female say.
Usually, you wear a layer of makeup to cover up imperfections that would be blown up under the studio lights, & highlighted by the zoom feature on a camera. Then you wear another layer of makeup to accentuate & “sex-ify” your features. (You know, make you look flawless & attractive)
But doing that for this shoot would have defeated the purpose of what I wanted to capture.
This shoot was to celebrate my make-up-less month of travel and also share what I’ve learned from the experience.
It also served as a challenge. I wanted to see if I could accept myself when a spotlight was pointed at my insecurities. I wanted to literally shine a light on my face, to learn how to REALLY love me.
Photo By: Alex Radelich
CATALYST: 

I was first inspired to put down my eyeliner after being in Haiti.
It was really hot in Haiti, and the make up I wore the morning that I arrived had melted off my face by the afternoon, and made the dark circles under my eyes 8 times worse, so I decided to take it all off.
Later that same day, we met up with some women who also weren’t wearing ANY makeup. Not even wear mascara. They were tanned & had messy hair and wore big dangly earrings. I was shocked to see that they didn’t even care to put concealer around their eyes! I remember looking at them and feeling so encouraged.
That’s what I look like too. That’s normal. I thought to myself.
The first 2 days without any makeup was really hard. I felt like I looked tired, and I wanted to cover it up, but I knew that if I did it would look a lot worse in a few hours so I sucked it up and eventually I realized the people I was with didn’t notice or care, which was nice.
After a little sun, my skin looked better and by the end of the week I felt much more comfortable & decided I could do away with make-up for the rest of my travels to save more time for adventuring.
Later that month, I hit, London, Ireland, and Colorado. And while I was traveling I began to discover new things about myself. I started to realize how I really felt about my appearance.
There was a distinct moment in Ireland when I literally avoided conversing with people because I was feeling insecure about the circles underneath my eyes that day.
Yes… REALLY.

Photo By: Alex Radelich

FACE IT:
On Thanksgiving, I face-timed my family and that insecurity was shoved in my face. My stepdad said “Have you been sleeping enough? You look tired”
I was offended immediately.
Later, I took a second to think about it… what’s wrong with looking tired?
I was hurt and upset because in my mind “tired” translated to “not beautiful” which translated to “not attractive” which translated to “not worthy”.
And then I asked myself, so what if I look tired? Does that really mean I’m not pretty anymore? Are my beauty and worthiness THAT fragile?
I know some people who are SO freakin beautiful & it doesn’t anything to do with what they look like.
I want that kind of beauty.
I want the kind of beauty that a sleepless night or a long day can’t destroy.
I want the kind of beauty that eyeliner can’t enhance.
I want the kind of beauty that doesn’t disappear when I wash my face.
But to get that kind of beauty I need to love me the way I am.
I have to remind myself that…
It’s not makeup that makes me desirable or beautiful.
It’s  the way I love people
It’s who I am at rest & at ease.
It’s the way I feel when I do something I love.
It’s me, being me, fully and authentically.
Photo By: Alex Radelich
THE TRUTH:
I realized that the more I covered up with makeup, the more I was ignoring a major problem & the farther I got from being the healthiest, happiest version of myself. 
I realized in that moment that I had internalized a lie…
“if you are not beautiful by our standards you are failing at your purpose.”
BUT we HAVE to realize that these standards aren’t real & this “purpose” is given to us by society, not our creator. Your true purpose is only something you can discover for yourself.
The photo-shoot I did with Alex that produced the photos you see on this blog post was at 8 in the evening. I was up at 6 that morning to work a 12 hour shoot day and went straight to the studio after we wrapped. I got there, took my hair down, washed my face, put on moisturizer, switched my shirt and got in front of the camera.
Literally.
It was terrifying because I realized I was facing this lie straight on.
& I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to reverse something you have internalized, but it’s hard, which is why I winced when I saw the photos.
I wasn’t judging these photos by divine beauty standards; I was looking at them the way I had been trained to look at them.
Photo By: Alex Radelich

Yes. Trained.
By commercials and photos and videos and movies and magazines.
Have short eyelashes? Use this! Want bigger lips? Use this! Get rid of that hair! Use this! Get even skin! Use this?
Think about this: How do I know if I need those things if I don’t know I have those “problems”? What if I don’t see them because I’m not looking for them?
We are trained to look for imperfections the way artists are trained to use colors.
But the sad thing is, most of us can’t we see ourselves as a creation the way a creator would.
I want to share with you what unedited, untouched, uncovered skin, face, hair, human looks like. 
Photo By: Alex Radelich
And now I get extraordinarily pissed off when I run into ads in the beauty world.
A hypersonic de-puffer?  (Literally saw that today, while I was writing this post)
Didn’t know I even needed that! I thought I looked pretty good today.
But there you have it, the beauty industry training me again.
Now it’s December & I decided to continue to challenge myself through the end of the year, or until I feel completely comfortable without makeup on.

Until I can see myself in the mirror aisle at target & WANT to take a selfie ‘cause I think I look so damn good.

And we are almost there… so far I’ve gone to a party, gone to a few business meetings, gone to a bar, gone to work, gone to the grocery store all without makeup on and I’m actually finally feeling much better about it. It feels SO damn good to like my face so much I don’t want to change anything about it.
Photo By: Alex Radelich

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

#1 There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking or wanting to wear makeup. I’m super excited to go out for a night all glammed out. The main purpose of this post was to share a journey with you & some lessons I learned cause I want you to love & care for the bare naked face you were given. You are normal & perfect the way you are.
#2 I am passionate about marketing business and communication and because of that, I can SEE when it is being used to influence in a NEGATIVE way. I want you to empower you so you can recognize when you are being manipulated and LIED to by people or corporations that want to make MONEY.  I want to empower you to ask questions and challenge what you encounter. Decide what your own truth is & recognize the real source of your value.
#3 Challenge yourself to go a few days without makeup on. You might learn something new about the person underneath it.

Photo By: Alex Radelich

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