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Authenticity . . . and Makeup

August 22, 2011


Authenticity is about being genuine and presenting yourself for who you really are.  I’ve been thinking about this since I returned from vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Breckenridge is an old gold mining town that reinvented itself in the 1960s as a ski resort.  Many of the old structures along Main Street date to the late 1800s and the community is committed to historic preservation.   At an elevation of 9,600 feet and with peaks approaching 14,000 feet, the air is thin and most of the people on the streets are tourists.

My wife observed that very few of the women were wearing makeup, which contrasted with many other places we have vacationed.   Breckenridge has a laid back atmosphere and appeals to middle-class families, young adults, and retired people.  Very few seemed to be putting on airs.  People seemed to just want to relax, let their hair down, and get away from the hectic lives they live elsewhere, including the people who work there.  It’s like a haven for just being yourself.

These perceptions kept bringing me back to my wife’s observation about makeup.  I appreciate as much as anyone how makeup enhances one’s physical appearance, reflects personal pride and a desire to be at one’s best.  It also may help some feel better about themselves.  It also occurred that there is another kind of makeup.  It’s the appearance people often put forward to create false impressions – to present themselves as something other than who they really are.  We may do it at work, with friends, with family, with anyone we are trying to impress; and perhaps at times we believe being our authentic selves won’t be sufficient.  There is a feeling that sometimes we need to be someone other than who we truly are.

Do you find that for yourself?  That you are pretending?  That you have put makeup on your persona?  That you are not being your true self, for whatever reason?

When you catch yourself in those moments, stop and ask, “Who am I really and is my presentation of myself aligned with it?  Live your beliefs and intentions.  That’s authenticity.  That’s personal integrity.

Steve Weitzenkorn

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