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  • Kimberly Paige

Perfection and other Masks

In September I booked a professional photoshoot—something I had never done before, so I was super excited. As a part of the package I would be getting my make-up done by a professional make-up artist which seemed like a really good idea since make-up is not really my thing.

On the day of the photo session I’ve got all my outfit changes together, and I’m having a good hair day (phew!), and all is well.

The make-up artist starts making me over, and then keeps making me over, and making me over. I’m wondering “Ummm, how many layers of make-up is this woman going to put on my face?”

And when she’s done, she hands me a mirror and I say “Oh my God, I don’t even look like me!” I don’t make that statement joyfully. I literally do not recognize myself and it is unsettling.

Both the make-up artist and the photographer assured me that the make-up would “look great” in the photos. Throughout the photo session, I felt like my face was cracking. It was an effort to smile and I was so uncomfortable I could not relax.

So, a few days later I get the photos back and…guess what? My make-up looks like shit. It looks exactly as crappy in the photos as it did in real life.

This was a big lesson in trusting myself and trusting my judgment. And while I was disappointed that the photographer and the make-up artist were not honest with me, I was mostly just angry with myself for not insisting that it wasn’t right and asking for a do-over.

The other realization I had was about how we all go through life with various masks—some more obvious than others. I once worked for a woman who wore her make-up like armor. But there are more subtle ways to hide behind a mask.

One of my masks—and I know others use this one, too—is the art (or deceit) of appearing pulled together and problem-free…the mask of perfection. We see this *all the time* on social media, right?

For me, it is not so much about convincing others that my life is perfect because it is so clearly not perfect. It’s more about not letting others see the real me out of fear that they may not like me or approve of me.

It's time to get over that!

I am working on letting the mask slide and allowing at least more glimpses of my real self to shine through. It’s about putting myself out there—warts and all—and being okay with that. For me that means:

  • Trying new things and risking looking like a fool

  • Sharing my failures as well as my successes

  • Voicing my opinion knowing that some people may think I’m silly or stupid

  • Letting all the varied aspects of myself show even if some of those parts of who I am are incongruent with the image people have of me

How about you? Are you willing to let your mask slip a little bit? To be a little more vulnerable, and honest, and uncertain?

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