How A Facebook Experiment Cracked My Heart Wide Open

Nicole Markardt
How A Facebook Experiment Cracked My Heart Wide Open

“Allow beauty to shatter you regularly. The loveliest people are the ones who have been burnt and broken and torn at the seams, yet still send their open hearts into the world to mend with love -- again, and again, and again. You must allow yourself to feel your life while you're in it." ~ Vitoria Erickson

A Personal Challenge in Beauty

A traumatic experience when I was 18 leaves me with a deep scar above my right eyebrow. When my mother first saw my face in the emergency room, she fainted. As I looked over at the gurney next to mine, I saw my mother lying beside me in a state of true grief.

Would I be disfigured? Would I face the challenge of that reality my entire life?

These questions flooded my mother’s mind as she understands, as all women do, just how much importance is placed on physical beauty in our existence. She could see bone where, just the evening before, she saw her daughter’s beautiful forehead fully intact as she waved goodbye from our Brooklyn porch; that familiar ache in her heart which parents feel when their children begin leaving the house in cars.

With the help of a confident plastic surgeon, my scar is long but pretty thin, leaving a hint of asymmetrical eyebrow alignment. I’ve skillfully learned to try to compensate for this misalignment with eye make-up.

Social Media is What We Make Of It

Social media can be wonderful. And like many other things, we will find in it what we seek. I’m part of a closed group on Facebook, where like-minded individuals gather to discuss all kinds of topics involving spiritual awareness and development.

I’m not quite sure who started this experiment, but people began posting makeup-free selfies. What happened from there was truly beautiful, and brought me to tears a few different times. In this safe space, people opened up and allowed their deepest insecurities to be fully exposed. Even men (who normally always wear hats because their hairline is receding or who generally never post pictures of themselves because of dissatisfaction with their appearance), began posting bare-naked selfies.

Women who suffer from acne or Vitiglio, who never leave the house without makeup, posted pictures of their bare-naked faces. People began pointing out what they hate about their faces -- an out of place tooth, a wider nose, until eventually…thread after thread, people slowly began writing what they love about themselves when they felt the safety and love of being truly accepted.

The posts became incredibly uplifting as our deepest fear in revealing our true selves, and being criticized for having imperfections, dissipated. This movement caught on like wildfire and the page was flooded with more makeup-free, show-as-you-are selfies. The outpouring of love was truly remarkable. Women were supporting other women with such open-hearts.

It often pains me to see just how hard women are on other women. Men were moved as they were brought into greater awareness of the female struggle to sell ourselves as we would a product.

My Own Facebook Experiment

I decided to post a make-up free selfie on my regular Facebook page. I invited my 200+ friends to do the same -- no photo filters, with their hair pulled up or natural, and no makeup at all. While the level of support and the kind words I received moved me, only 3 of my Facebook friends could bring themselves to do it. This was truly eye-opening.

In the age of Instagram, photo apps, filters, and social media, where we pick and choose exactly how we want to appear to the world, I thought it an important reminder that social media is the highlight reel of our lives.

This was a big step for me because I’ve always been self conscious of my scars. I enjoy makeup. I find it fun and love the feeling of getting dressed up and putting on make-up. It felt liberating, however, to show my makeup-free self. It felt freeing. In that free space, I came to know myself a little more.

There’s More to Your Story

Our identity is a story that we tell ourselves every day. We label ourselves and others to set ourselves apart. Our ego loves that. We’re the “girly one,” or the one who doesn’t buy into that industry, we’re the yogi, vegan, agnostic, atheist, and so on.

But the sum of who we are is so much greater than the stories we tell ourselves. The external person, the part that everyone can see, is only supported by our internal self -- the part that no one can readily see. If we really think about that…well, I can’t think of anything more beautiful.

That is who we really are. The part no one can see. We don’t have to try so hard.

P.S. After my post, a friend of mine sent me this video by Colbie Caillat. I hope somehow you’ll feel the emotions I felt too when I watched it.