Plain Jane

I think it's important that as Christians, we share our struggles. The first step with pretty much anything is admitting you have a problem—this is one of mine. Whether you've known me for 2 days or 29 years, you've never seen me with make up on, and when you picture me, you think of me with my hair pulled back. You might have even thought the phrase "Plain Jane."
I think it's important that as Christians, we share our struggles. The first step with pretty much anything is admitting you have a problem—this is one of mine. Whether you've known me for 2 days or 29 years, you've never seen me with make up on, and when you picture me, you think of me with my hair pulled back. You might have even thought the phrase "Plain Jane."


Some people call me "Plain Jane." It's probably always been an accurate description of me, but it's probably more accurate today than it ever was. Plain Jane is usually meant as insult, I guess (I didn't take it that way, but they also didn't say it to my face). It can mean unattractive, or it can mean unadorned. Some people may think I'm unattractive, while others may disagree, but I am definitely unadorned. I rarely wear jewelry and I never wear makeup. I feel it's time to share why.

Before I get into why, I want to throw out the disclaimer/spoiler that I'm sharing my own personal experience and journey. This is not a statement on how you should or shouldn't be.

The Beginnings of a Plain Jane

This is me in high school (~15 years old)
Yes, I'm wearing a lavender shirt and a powder blue jacket
No, I don't know why I did that to my hair
As a child, I was what people call "a tomboy." I didn't want to wear dresses or skirts because I wanted to run around outside with the boys. I wanted to play sports and dig in the dirt. I followed my dad around our family farm like a shadow, and played football with my male cousins. Whatever was practical and comfortable was what I wore. I was strictly a jeans and t-shirt type of girl through high school. I did have a glittery shirt once, but after one wash, all the glitter fell off. *shrug*

Growing Up a.k.a. the Glow Up

Contrary to my "don't care" attitude and approach, I'm like everyone else. There came a point (some time around puberty), when I started to care how people saw me—specifically how guys saw me. I dabbled with makeup a little in middle school, but quickly learned that I have sensitive skin. The only thing that didn't irritate me was lip gloss, but once I got heavily involved in band that was quick to go (I was not about to ruin my $20 reeds with lip gloss!). Besides, ain't nobody got time to be waking up extra early for all of that.

In middle and high school, I wasn't popular; I knew I wasn't going to be popular. Most of the people in my close circle were related to me, so I wasn't trying to impress them. As far as everyone else, I was the girl that people really didn't say much to in terms of appearance. People didn't pick on me, at least not to my face, and I was comfortable, so why change anything?

This is me in college (maybe Sophomore year)
In college, after I joined my sorority, was the first time I ever became really conscious of how I looked. Suddenly, I wasn't just representing me, but I was representing the sorority. I remember going to a new member presentation for one of the fraternities and being called on the stage in front of all the people who had shown up. I had come straight from class, so not only was I not wearing my sorority's colors, but I was in a hooded jacket that didn't match anything else I had on and some comfy shoes that also didn't match. About a week later, as I was talking to a group of fellow greeks and mentioned that I had no idea we were going to be called up, several of them chimed in with "that explains why you were dressed like that." It was the first time anyone had actually confirmed that I basically had zero style.

After that, I became more aware of my outward appearance. I was still in jeans and a hoodie in class, but I would actually think about what I wanted to wear to events and shows. Now that I had sorority sisters, we'd talk over outfits before we went places, and I learned how to walk in stilettos. I still didn't wear makeup, but I started to put thought into what I put on. I started amassing jewelry and shoes—this began my love affair with shoes.

Finding Confidence

Senior year (after I joined the sorority) in college
Because I never completely left the world of being a plain Jane, I think most people have always just assumed I was a confident person. Who else shows up in jeans, a hoodie, and no makeup, when everyone else is dressed to the nines? You have to have some level of confidence to stand out, and so, to some extent I was a confident person. But like I said, I was never popular and over time, that can mess with your head.

In high school, I didn't really worry about why guys didn't ask me out. Most of the black guys at my school were related to me (or at least my parents were going to tell me they were related to me...) and I didn't have classes with many of them to ever talk to them anyway. My classes were 97% white, and in the early 2000s in rural South Carolina, interracial dating was still taboo. I don't know if any of my white male classmates were paying me any attention, but I'm sure their parents would have had a heart attack had they brought home a black girl. I didn't expect them to like me; I really didn't expect them to admit it if they did.

Going in to my senior year of college though, I started to wonder. I had tons of male friends—I've always had lots of guy friends—but no one ever asked me out. How was I cool enough to be friends with, but not cool enough to date? Being young and naïve, I didn't understand God's hand in this (I was spiritually weak and I needed to be focused on God, not on dating). Instead, I assumed I was unattractive. Up until that point, I'd considered myself average, but in my mind if I had a decent personality but none of the guys liked me, it had to be because I was unattractive—oh, the fallacies in this thought!

The first guy I ever "seriously" dated dumped me after a month because I wouldn't have sex with him. This could have gone several ways, but it sparked a crazy but positive change in how I viewed myself. I can still hear what he said to me, and what I said back.
You don't just buy a car—you have to test drive it to make sure it's a good car.—Guy
You don't test drive a Ferrari, you already know it's a good car.—Me

That moment marked the beginning of me thinking of myself as Ferrari and not a hooptie.

It may have ended at a great one-liner, and I might not not have changed at all, but the timing was perfect. At the same time, many of my female friends were dealing with boy drama and my male friends were siding with the guys. Listening to these guys talk, it felt like all they would ever care about were looks and sex. To let them tell it, they didn't care about personality, cooking/cleaning abilities, even looks to a certain extent. If you looked halfway decent and you were willing to having sex, that was good enough for them. I finally understood what the word objectified meant... Then something in me snapped. God's voice told me I was more than that: I was compassionate, I was smart, I was nice, and I was fun to be around. I realized I didn't want to be pretty or beautiful or hot. I wanted to be the things I already was; I wanted to be a good person. More importantly, I wanted a guy who cared that I was those things.

Becoming a Narcissist

Don't ask why I only have one earring on
I've never really had it all together lol
When people tell you confidence is sexy, believe them. I went from never having guys ask me out to too many guys asking me out, seemingly over night. Now that I didn't care and was happy to be single, here come all these guys knocking at my door. As the devil would have it, I overshot God's message and became something of a narcissist for a little while.

It started with a simple thought. I think if I had any clue about applying makeup and fashion trends, I could be what the world considers gorgeous. The first time I looked in the mirror and thought that, it scared me. I was scared for multiple reasons:
  • That just sounds narcissistic and vain
  • Didn't I say I didn't want to be noticed because of my looks?
  • What does that say about how I feel about how God created me?

Admitting You Have A Problem

Summer 2017
I think we can all agree that vanity is not becoming, and obsessing over my looks is the exact opposite of where I had declared I wanted to be!

When I looked in the mirror, I thought I looked better with earrings. Despite the fact that I was on my third attempt for piercing my ears. The first attempt resulted in surgery due to an allergic reaction to fake jewelry and the second attempt almost ended the same way due to a store selling me a fake earring that was marked as real. How crazy is it that after needing surgery because I put a hole in my ear to hang sparkling things, I tried again? It can't be as crazy as trying a third time after having the same problem a second time.

When I looked in the mirror, I thought I'd look better with shaped eyebrows. My eyebrows are a bit bushy and not particularly arched. They don't look the way celebrities and models do... Of course, their eyebrows don't look like that either. Why do I think my eyebrows should look like theirs?

When I looked in the mirror, I hated my feet. I refused to wear open toed shoes without getting a pedicure first. My toenails were hideous. My toenails don't look much different than anyone else's, but I thought the were hideous. Does that sound stupid to you? It sounds stupid to me, but it used to sound true.

When I looked in the mirror, I thought I'd be gorgeous if I covered the bags under my eyes. I went through all of my pictures trying to figure out when these accursed things showed up and found a picture of me at about a year old with bags under my eyes... My dad has bags under his eyes. My mom has bags under her eyes. My grandmother had bags under her eyes, and according to my dad, so did my grandfather. These bad boys are genetic. Cold compresses don't get rid of them and getting a full night's rest doesn't do the trick either. Apparently, God wanted them on my face, but I've bought into the world's opinion that they make me look tired and shouldn't be there.

Accepting the Me God Created

This is one of my favorite pictures of me
it shows me as the crazy awkward goofball I am!
Going natural was the first step in realizing that I had been subconsciously absorbing the world's standard of beauty. I had put chemicals in my hair for 22 years to make it "manageable" and to look "normal." As I fell in love with my natural curls, I wondered why I had spent all that time fighting my hair, and to this day, when I see pictures of me with straight hair, I think it looks odd. It looks...unnatural. When I looked a myself with straight hair and felt how odd it looked, I wondered what God had thought about me straightening my hair all those years.

The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God knew us before we were formed in the womb... Have you ever tried to tell an artist their creation wasn't quite right? Being a writer, I can tell you from experience, I take an insult to my writing (deserved or undeserved) harder than insults to my person, because when I write, I'm giving you a glimpse of my innermost thoughts—of my soul. God created us in His image, fashioned each one of us to look the way we do, and yet many of us think He didn't get it quite right when He made us.

It's one thing to have fun putting on makeup or relax while getting a pedicure. It's something entirely different to feel like you can't be seen without these things. In the past year, I've made great strides in showing my feet without having gotten a pedicure or even polishing them, but I've taken a few steps back concerning my face. I know that were I to put on makeup, it would be to "fix" what I don't like about my face. With my personality, there's no way I'm waking up earlier to apply the makeup if I don't think it makes me look better. I also think if I succeeded (let's be real, most likely I'd make myself look like a clown since I know zilch about applying makeup), I'd be a bit of a narcissist. I don't think makeup is wrong or bad in general, but I think it's wrong for me. So, I've chosen to continue displaying my naked face.

Basically, I want to take off the filtered glasses that are preset with the world's standard of beauty. When I look at myself in the mirror, I want to be proud of my image just the way God created it. I also want see what God sees when He looks at me and I have a hunch it has a lot more to do with who I am as a person than what I look like. So, I try to spend as little time in the mirror or picking out clothes as possible.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.Proverbs 31:30 KJV

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