Last month I participated in Plastic Free July (PFJ), an annual challenge to reduce and educate people on plastic’s harmful effects on our environment. While I’m already working to reduce my waste year-round, I have never participated in PFJ or publicly held myself accountable for minimizing my plastic. It wasn’t as easy as I initially thought, I had to say no to some of my food cravings and had to think twice before leaving the house. Though I did not fully refrain from buying plastic, I definitely consumed less than I normally would.
Like any challenge, there were some things that were easier to give up than others. For me, it was not buying foundation. THIS IS A BIG DEAL for someone who is pretty insecure about her appearance. But, I wanted to really get outside my comfort zone for PFJ and refusing to purchase makeup that 1) came in plastic packaging and 2) contained harmful chemicals would do this. I would allow myself to buy a foundation if it was both zero-waste and organic. Being that I’m lazy when it comes to researching products and indecisive, I did not find a foundation to purchase. This forced me to confront my fear of wearing a naked face.
There were days when I truly hated the way I looked and wanted to run to CVS for my go-to Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation. ‘It comes in glass packaging and that’s the best recyclable, right?’ I tried to convince myself. It became clearer and clearer that even with four years of gender studies courses, I could not undo the damage of societal beauty standards.
I feared that my looks were hindering my shot at making friends and decreasing my interaction with people at events. I tried to avoid any and all close-up photos and definitely didn’t take any selfies. Unless it was one that didn’t require makeup for, like a post-jog with Char. Still, I didn’t budge, my goal to consume less plastic turned into a mission to prove that makeup didn’t own me.
By the end of the month, it felt natural to walk out of the house without foundation. My insecurities did not disappear overnight, but instead of relying on my appearance to give me a boost, I used my character and hobbies. For instance, I started my two-year volunteering program, which even furthers my life mission to be a resource for first-generation college students. I also committed to presenting a Lunch & Learn about sustainability and zero-waste at work. I registered for FinCon to further my commitment to this blog and my goal of becoming a Certified Financial Planner. There is more to me than my appearance and I did not need to solely depend on that to feel comfortable in my skin.
PFJ helped me break out of my comfort zone in more ways than asking for plastic-free alternatives. It made me realize my dependency on certain products and how to challenge these norms.
What is the one thing you’d have a hard time giving up?
PFJ Weekly Round-ups:
Weeks One & Two