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What are you hiding?

By Francis Ewherido

A few years ago, I was at a wedding reception where I shared a table with a lady. During her conversation with another guest, her voice sounded familiar, but I could not place her face. Her husband joined her later and that confirmed her identity, but the face still looked unfamiliar. Then I summoned courage and said, “Sis, I no know say na you sit down opposite me before o? Then she retorted angrily: “Me too, I no recognise you.”

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So what happened? I had known her for about two years. Within this period, we worked together on a project. So, I know her very well, but on his day, her make-up was much and made her unrecognizable. In insurance, we say that there wasa “loss of specie.”In lay man’s words, it means that the face I was beholding at the ceremony was different from what I used to know.

For a while now, I have quietly wondered about how make-up has metamorphosed from an enhancer to a complete makeover tool. From the bungalow (Pencil, powder and tiro) it was when I was growing up in the late 60s and early 70s, it became single storey building (pancake was added). Now, makeup has grown into a skyscraper (They can now make up your wife and you will not recognize her thereafter). I have continued to wonder in silence, but I decided to mind my business.

That was until last Sunday, which was Pentecost Sunday. The theme of the sermon at Mass was: “What are you hiding?” The priest was talking about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how some Christians were knowingly and unknowingly hiding theirs. He likened them to the servant in the Bible who dug the talent his master gave him in the ground. All of a sudden, he shifted and likened those who hide their spiritual gifts to women who hide their natural looks behind skyscraper of make-up and become unrecognizable. He said he went for a traditional marriage and could not recognise the bride he had known for a long while because of her skyscraper make-up.

His sermon, apart from giving me the title of the topic of today, got me thinking. In insurance, loss of species is enough ground to repudiate a claim, because that was not what was contemplated at the commencement of the insurance. Another reason why we repudiate claims in insurance is if we find out that there has been non-disclosure of(fundamental) conditions when the insurance was contracted. These skyscraper make-ups can easily lead to loss of specie and concealment of facts. So what happens if the man finds out the true situation (during courtship, for example)? There was a case of a man who got married in China. By the next day, when make-up was off the face of the wife, he said he was no longer marrying because his wife “is ugly.”

I am an apostle of women looking good, so do not get me wrong. Every woman has a responsibility to look good, but I believe that looking good, like freedom, should go with concomitant responsibilities. Once there is a loss of specie, instead of enhancing the woman’s looks, make up becomes an instrument of deceit. And in insurance, we do not operate with the doctrine of”buyers beware;” it is “utmost good faith.” Also in relationships (courtship and marriage), there should be no buyers beware, it should be utmost good faith. Just as the man should come clean about his sources of income, family background, health status, etc., the woman, in addition to these, should come clean about her beauty status. Beauty enhancement is okay, but skyscraper make-up is deceitful.

Some women do skyscraper make-up, take the photos and post them on social media. They get flattering and insincere comments of “nice,” “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” etc. They get temporary respite from their misery and insecurity. In the night, when they clean off the make-up, reality stares at them in the mirror and the temporary respite evaporates; their world of misery returns.

Why live with temporary solutions when you can get permanent solutions? Real and permanent happiness can only come from being real, embarking on a journey of self-discovery, unearthing and celebrating the beautiful things God has deposited in you. God gave his gifts to all of us. Some of us just spend all the time focusing on what we consider as negatives in our lives. As my mother used to tell us while growing up, if you look in only one direction, your neck will grow stiff. That is what has happened to some women. I used to know a lady in those days who suffered from paralysing low self-esteem because she felt she was not beautiful. But her brain was first class. I ran into her recently after losing contacts for over two decades. That beauty of a brain has gone to terrible waste because of her focus on the physical. I felt so depressed. What a waste of resources!

I also used to know a lady, who felt she was short and also not beautiful. But she had devastatingly beautiful legs. Until we lost touch, I could not recall this lady putting on long skirts or gowns. It was always mini, even when maxi was in vogue. She had the legs and flauntedthem. In public relations, we call it “putting your best foot forward.” The only thing I did not like about her was her “bad mouth.” Her only criterion for assessing other women’s beauty was their legs. No matter how facially beautiful a woman was, if she considered her legs ugly, she would say, “see as her legs wor-wor.” I guess she had residual insecurity.

Hey, sisters, I am not trying to spoil your fun. I just believe every human being should be truly happy, not ephemeral happiness. True happiness comes from truly accepting who you are. There are no physically perfect human beings, but God has given you enough to make you truly happy. All you need to do to cast your net on the other side, just as Jesus urged his disciples to do, and you will have your haul. There is no reason to hide your God-given talents because of perceived short-comings. May be we can console ourselves with the cliché that, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But the beholder needs to see the beauty first before beholding it.

Unfortunately, some sisters get this heavy make-up all wrong. I learnt these make-up sessions are expensive and some sisters cannot afford them. So, they end up using quacks and when you see them, they look like witches and those wicked characters in horror movies!

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