I’m meeting up with a local homeschooling group tomorrow, and so my preparations have started today. We’re meeting at a pool, so that means spending time with my epilator. Even as do this, I think about the message I am presenting to our girls, the myths about beauty and self-worth that I am perpetuating.

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.” ― Audrey Hepburn

I don’t often wear make-up. When I do up my face, it’s not because I want to catch the eye of a handsome farmer in the supermarket. I wear make-up as armour against the judgement of other women. I want to present well so that I am judged a competent and capable mother.

It’s plainly ridiculous when I break it down like that.

One of my favourite scenes from an insightful movie (Le Belle Verte — now available on Youtube as a full movie with English subtitles) is where a visitor from another planet is introduced to the concept of lipstick.

Whenever I put lipstick on, I now think about that scene. Why do I make my lips redder? Who am I trying to please? Do I believe that I am more lovely with face-paint on and less body hair?

These questions are important for me as I need to know the answers that will set me free as well as provide real options for our girls. I don’t want them to automatically assume that the glossy-mag culture of beauty is necessary or desirable. I want them to be strong enough within their own ideas of self-worth that they can choose to participate — or not — in the cultural practices around them.

I’ve had to deliberately let go of my ideas of what makes an outfit beautiful as I strive to offer our children the freedom to express themselves without being bound by the arbitrary ideas of “matching”, “style” and “fashion”. It’s hard to let go of the desire to always want to present well, to always want to have children who look good.

For so long I must have judged others on what they wore, how they looked, how well their children’s hair was braided or if their toenails were properly polished. Now I am learning to not only cop the scorn that comes from dressing in a style that feels comfortable to me but also permitting our girls to do the same.

During our travels, I have met many magnificent women who wear no make-up ever and let their hair go grey. I’m glad to be around these beautiful ladies; I’m so pleased our girls are exposed to women who are stronger than me in this area. I wonder if some of their internal super-powers will rub off on me so that I, too, will morph into that kind of freedom in the future.

In the meantime, hair-removal and make-up remains an occasional weakness for me. I am still so insecure about my inner beauty that I armour myself before entering new social settings. I’m aware of it, I’m thinking about it — that’s the first step in becoming free.

I’m interested in hearing the stories of other women who have consciously changed their “beauty” regime. Can you share yours and we’ll start a new trend?