My first experience of Ellen Kaye was as a student in one of her yoga classes. Walking into class, I saw a petite brunette with a dazzling smile and sparkling eyes. After taking multiple classes, I remember telling Ellen that she was like a yoga pixie that completely hands people their behinds (I think I actually said asses) in the sweetest way possible. If you live in Denver, or are ever visiting the area do yourself a favor and get your behind into one of her sweaty, soul expansive yoga classes. In May of 2014 Ellen Kaye challenged herself to go make up free for a month- dubbing it MakeUp Free May, which is now in it's second year. She is throwing down the gauntlet for women to challenge the way they think about make up and the way they think about themselves or more aptly the way they think about themselves without make up. She is quick to point out that in no way is she bashing makeup or people that use it. She had gotten to a point that she only felt like herself when wearing make up. "What if you, slathered in mud felt like the real you . . . and as the mud came off you felt less and less like the real you?", she asked. That's what makeup had become for me. I feel more beautiful, more powerful and more confident than I ever did wearing makeup. From the beginning I set out with the hope that I would become a sunscreen wearing, red lipstick on special occasions kind of woman. "I had no idea that I would actually achieve that goal.", Ellen shares. It was a terrifying challenge for her to go without makeup and she says she knew she was going to have to share it in a public way to hold herself accountable, so she shared it on social media and with her students in her yoga classes. One of the most impactful things she discovered, Ellen says is the f ***ed up psychology that most women live with. Interestingly enough, no one even really noticed the change and when she told people she noticed a theme appearing. Men tended to support and celebrate the decision, while women, although being supportive, tended to focus on why they couldn't possibly go without makeup. "You don't NEED makeup!" was heard a lot, and Ellen shares that she feels the unspoken or underlying message this sends, albeit unintentional, is that some people DO need makeup. I don't wear makeup, just cover up and mascara, was another popular response. Ellen muses that cover up and mascara are makeup, so we consider wearing makeup not wearing makeup. And yet another popular response was, "I have to wear makeup for my job.", which poses the question of why do women have to wear makeup for work and yet men do not? The roots of Ellen's MakeUp Free May started over a decade ago when she was in elementary school. When Ellen was in the 4th grade she had to get glasses and while it improved her vision, it also meant she became acutely aware of her so called "imperfections", while spending hours inches away from a mirror. At first, she focused her obsessive attentions on her eyebrows, eventually plucking them down to just a thin line of hair. This condition is known as Trichotillomania, in which people excessively pull out their own hair - in Ellen's case, her eyebrows. She also began compulsively pick her own face which is a condition known as Dermatillomania, pathological skin picking. "I would pick my skin raw in places.", Ellen recalls. To hide the scabs, inflammation, rawness and redness she began relying heavily on make up for cover up, thick foundation and concealer. This went on for well over a decade and usually her picking sessions were confined to nighttime, right before bed, so at least her skin would have overnight to calm down from the abuse she was inflicting on it, but occasionally she would pick in the middle of the day and because she didn't have the time buffer of the eight hours of sleeping, her skin was so inflamed and affected, she would call off work or cancel plans. "I thought if I took away my cover up that I would stop causing the damage to my skin.", Ellen states. At first she only shared the concept of going make up free without the back story of the hair tweezing and face picking compulsions she suffered from. But as time progressed, she began sharing more with her students and discovered some amazing things - one being her personal journey and realizing that no one sees us the way we see ourselves. Her first week went great as the threat of facing people without her usual make up if she picked her face kept the compulsion at bay, but in the second and third weeks she had to share her most vulnerable face one without cover up after she had picked it. She says this is where her deepest healing occurred, in her ability to treat herself with compassion after a picking session instead of beating herself up over it and to have to actually be with it and also show up in the world without covering it up. She was able to practice forgiveness for herself. She also discovered an amazing amount of support from women who participated in the challenge with her, even if their reasons for skipping makeup for a month were totally different. "MakeUp Free May can impact anyone!", Ellen states emphatically. Don't mind our blurry selfie! Who is in for MakeUp Free May?!
Join here: https://www.facebook.com/events/372004229668867/_ To find out more about Ellen's yoga class schedule and the kickoff to Yoga Rocks the Park on May 31st in Denver check out: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ellen-Kaye-Yoga/271826776211315?ref=tn_tnmn