So Sunday I was finally able to simmer down and watch last week’s episode of How To Get Away With Murder. If you’ve never watched this show, I honestly don’t know what your life has been about for the past month.
Per usual, I was gasping and shouting at the television as I watched Professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her team of law student minions cleverly strategize and manipulate their way into winning yet another case. But it was the final minute and 54 seconds of the episode that had my jaw dropping to the floor and my right thumb pressing the rewind button several times in a row (thank God for DVR). In case you missed it, you’re welcome:
After discovering some gut-wrenching evidence linking her husband to a possible affair — and a recent murder — a worn-down Annalise, who typically exudes a great deal of control, tenacity and (sexual) confidence, strips off her mask — which includes her (rather shameful) lacefront wig, a pair of glued-on eyelashes, a few layers of foundation and concealer, eyebrow powder (on fleek) and dark lipstick — exposing a raw vulnerability that has never once been seen on the show, much less national television.
Besides the fact that she cleaned her entire face with ONE makeup wipe, I was completely in awe of how Viola flawlessly performed her character’s literal and symbolic unmasking of self. As Annalise wipes her face clean and stares at her reflection in the mirror, every thought and emotion is clearly depicted without her having to utter a single word. She is no longer the strong, mysterious vixen who has all the answers. She is her true self: a woman who is emotionally conflicted and vulnerable, in desperate need of answers from her husband.
I’m sure many women could relate to this particular scene for many reasons. It represented how oftentimes we hide behind many layers of superficiality to exude society’s standards of beauty and strength. But when we remove the makeup, fancy hairdos and material things, who are we really dealing with?
The most vulnerable I’ve ever been was when I struck ill with dermatomyositis two years ago. There were times when I’d look at myself in the mirror and honestly wouldn’t even recognize who I was. But as time went by, I discovered that learning how to love myself was a huge factor in my journey to wellness. And self love involves exposing, confronting and accepting every aspect of ourselves — especially our weaknesses — and then finding strength in our vulnerability.
All we need is some time alone, a mirror and one darn-good makeup wipe.