Once upon a time, I knew this gal. Here, let me describe her for you:
She had dyed hair
And tanning-booth-brown skin
And acrylic nails
And a faceful of makeup
And wore push-up bras
And large imitation diamonds
And if you locked her in a basement for a few weeks so her tan faded, and scrubbed her face and restored her hair to its natural color and took off her plastic nails and dressed her in sweats and tennis shoes, nobody would have the first idea who she was. She’d be effectively incognito, though I imagine a few folks might vaguely recognize her silhouette as being similar to somebody they knew.
And to be entirely honest with you, that scares the living crap out of me. Because not for one second do I believe that she is alone in her daily routine of preparing a face to meet the faces that she meets; quite the contrary, I am 100% sure that she’s not alone, and that in fact, there are probably thousands more women just like her.
If you are one of my nieces and you are reading this sometime in the future, or if you are one of the people I love and are reading this right now, please listen very carefully:
Regardless of what the ad campaigns tell you, you are perfect and beautiful the second you step out of your shower. You do not have to add anything, subtract anything, rearrange anything, hide anything, repaint anything, or disguise anything. Beauty is what you do, not how you look.
Don’t get me wrong–I like playing with makeup as much as the next person, but for me it’s like playing with fingerpaints. It’s this totally non-obligatory way to have some fun with color, and I feel absolutely no compulsion whatsoever to participate in it on a daily basis. Heck, I don’t even feel any particular compulsion to participate in it for special occasions, though they do give me an excuse to get all fancy. So I’m not condemning makeup, per se; I’m just saying that I don’t understand why people feel like it’s mandatory.
And don’t get me wrong–I wore acrylic nails myself, for a long time. I was a nail-biter into my early 20s, and I found that it was just a lot easier to keep myself from chewing on ’em when I knew I’d just blown $30 on ’em. And the nail salon had way more polish options than I had at home, and please see my previous statements about playing with fingerpaints and feeling fancy. So I’m not condemning fake nails, per se; I just don’t understand why people feel more inclined to wear falsies every day for years rather than just buying the nifty polish for DIY manicures at a fraction of the cost.
And don’t get me wrong–I too have bought a dress and had it delivered the day before a big event only to find that it’s 1/2″ too small and so I can either risk the seams or wear a foundation garment of some sort. Spanx to the rescue! So I’m not condemning Spanx, per se; I just don’t understand why a person might feel that their body shape is never, ever acceptable, and thus wear them every day.
I could go on like this, but I won’t. You get my drift: people are absolutely welcome to do whatever little getting-dressed rituals will help them feel beautiful and confident. If you want warpaint every day, wear warpaint every day. If you’re not thrilled with your shape and want some help, wear the cincher until you’ve hit your weight goals. If you’re sick to death of being shorter than everyone around you, by all means, wear the heels.
But sit down with yourself first and take a long, hard look at who you are and what you’re doing. Are you strapping yourself into all this stuff because you actually enjoy it, or are you doing it because you feel unworthy, un-beautiful, undesirable, unattractive, incomplete?
Because if it’s the latter, allow me to suggest an alternative: rather than trying to paint yourself into appearing beautiful, maybe consider behaving in such a way that people love you despite the flaws that you’re so strongly convinced are there. Be helpful. Be gracious. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be your amazing, incredible, wonderful self.
You are what is beautiful–not your face or your body or your hair. Your soul is what people fall in love with.
Trust me on this one. I’m an overweight woman who doesn’t wear a speck of makeup most days, who has had her hair in a daily ponytail for approximately 15 years, and who wouldn’t know fashion if it jumped up and bit her on the butt–and yet I’m married to the love of my life (a man whom other people recognize as being awesome, so it ain’t just me), and surrounded by people who tell me all the time how beautiful I am. And since it is cleeeeearly not because of my fancy-schmancy shoes (I rock the infinitely practical loafer, thankyouverymuch) then it must be because of the way I make people feel.
Which means my life’s goal–bring a little more beauty to the world–is accomplished. And without my having to make any appointments at the tanning salon, hair salon, nail salon, or indeed any other kind of salon.
I reckon that’s a pretty beautiful thing.