A few weeks ago, I was driving off for a mini-break and was feeling rather content with my lot. In my relaxed state, I decided to don a pretty little 1920’s hat and wear some lipstick. Lipstick I hear you say?! I never wear lipstick. In fact, I rarely wear makeup, but it was a day for lipstick. I was feeling free, happy and glamorous.
While driving up to a set of lights, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a scantily clad young lady. She was shaking her long hair around, in what I could only presume was a bid to win the driver’s eye and gain permission to come and clean the windscreen.
I hastily turned my eyes away and proceeded to pull down my rear vision mirror and put on my lipstick. In my mind, my lipstick moment, the one where I covered myself to make me feel pretty, was in stark contrast to the girl who had nothing to lose. By baring her face and body, she was prepared to be vulnerable in exchange for some coins.
The fractured world we live in means that some people find themselves in situations where survival takes them to places of vulnerability and exposure. Not because they are secure with their place in the world but because they are fighting for one. No person should ever be judged for those choices. For women and men, who find themselves in situations where they feel there is no alternative but to bare their bodies to survive; assistance, support, love, and kindness is necessary to enable empowerment and provide an opportunity for change.
I was almost ashamed as I sat there applying my makeup and thinking about how I was looking good and feeling good, and there was someone over there who was prepared to bare all. I was overwhelmed by the respect I felt brewing up on the inside of me for this woman who was making herself vulnerable to the world around her. For whatever reasons she was cleaning windscreens at lights, I was quite sure I would never have the confidence to bring myself into the open like that.
I am, in no way, endorsing society’s message that encourages nudity and the baring of flesh. It is tied in with our incessant need to have our internal inadequacies covered and feeds into an unhealthy obsession with physical beauty (because you can’t bare a body that isn’t perfect, right?).
It got me thinking as to why we wear makeup.
Some of us do, some of us don’t; some of us wear a lot and some of us a little. Sure, it quite often enhances our external beauty, but other times it is a support to cover up what we see as flaws, imperfections, and inadequacies.
‘If I can just cover up that pimple, people will like me.’
‘If I can just get my eyebrows the right shape I will look good and fit perfection.’
‘If I can just have the pink, plump, pouty lips, someone will deem me acceptable.’
One type of make-up is even called ‘cover-up.’
Covering up is nothing new. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve attempted to sew fig leaves together to ‘cover up’ their sin; their disbelief in God, their disobedience to God. We do the same today. In a million different ways, we cover ourselves up to hide our shame from the world and ourselves.
This brokenness runs far deeper than a pimple and puffy bags under the eyes. It is a brokenness that reaches down into the very depths of our being. It is a splintered and fragmented soul that finds itself in shame, inadequacy, fear, lack of value and longing for acceptance
Fortunately, light has come to our darkness. Jesus, who is love, came and uncovered Himself. He became, in David Lose’s words, ‘”outrageously vulnerable when He made Himself a helpless baby when He tended to ‘the least of these’ and when He was nailed to the cross” taking on the brokenness of humankind.
He became uncovered and exposed that we might be free.
Free to be honest with ourselves. Knowing that we are accepted. Knowing we are loved. Knowing we are righteous.
Let us be honest with ourselves, and others. Let us be courageous to bare who we truly are, so that we might find healing, acceptance, and love. We all are broken, at our core, but through the love of Christ, through His baring all on the cross, we have wholeness.
There is no need to cover ourselves up any longer, but ‘with boldness and courage, let us come to the throne room of grace, and there find mercy and help in our trouble.’ Hebrews 4:16