On beauty and fitting in

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Definitely not enough eyeliner, right?

Third and final year of college with eyeliner still going strong, and the occasional mascara making an appearance

I grew up in in a very beauty-centered town. Everything in our little part of Florida is somewhat focused on outward appearances, from the type of car you drive to how you look in a swimsuit, to how big your home is and whether or not you put enough makeup up on to look "presentable" at church, whatever that means. My Mother has always gone somewhat against the grain in that sense (she couldn't braid my hair, rarely wore makeup and while other moms were desperately dyeing their grays, she rocked a very chique all-white pixie cut,) so I suppose it's not that surprising that I never really got fully sucked into this strange world. My daily makeup routine smearing on the inkiest black eyeliner I could find and maybe covering up a spot or two. If I needed anything remotely fancier I had to recruit my cousin for assistance (shout out to her for making me look superrr hot the day after I was dumped by my first boyfriend.) Still, I did as most young people do at some point in their lives, and in an effort to fit in tried to make myself somewhat "presentable" on Sundays to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb from the girls who painted their faces on each morning and never wore the same dress twice.

By the time I met and fell hard for my now husband seven long years ago (!), I was kind of over it. Makeup seemed to be getting more complicated and expensive, and I hated wasting 15 minutes of my morning painting it on and another 5-10 minutes in the evening taking it off.

So I stopped wearing it.

In some club somewhere
Me on a good skin day, 2017

That was in 2012. These days, as the less environmentally-friendly ingredients of makeup have been exposed and Alicia Keys has made the resounding point that makeup isn't necessary for a woman to be considered beautiful, the decision to not wear makeup on a daily basis is somewhat less groundbreaking (not that going without makeup was ever 'groundbreaking' or even all that remarkable.) But at the time it did feel like my own quiet rebellion against the obsession with external appearances I'd grown up exposed to. It felt weird, and freeing, and more like 'me' than I had in a long time. 

I guess this is all on my mind because my decent skin, which for all those years didn't really give me much grief in the acne department, seems to be making up for lost time. Lately I've accrued a fairly constant little cluster of bumps on my once smooth forehead. My waste is less defined (probably thanks to residency ending and actually getting to eat 3 square meals a day.) More than a few ignore-able grays are now cropping up in noticeable places. Sigh. It's so much easier to stick to our convictions when they don't impact your life all that much in the first place, isn't it? It's really easy to avoid buying fast fashion when you have the budget and time to spend more than $5 on a shirt, or tut tut someone else's flashy gazz guzzling car when you have no idea what went into their choices in the first place? It's also easy to see yourself as beautiful when you fit into society's narrow definition of beauty...and so many beautiful women don't fall into that category.

I still have a pretty hefty distaste for excessive external displays of wealth. I'll never feel the need to buy designer bags that scream "HI I COST A LOT OF DOLLARS," or understand the concept of buying a luxury car you can't really afford to keep up appearances. But apparently these things matter to some people. When I was really bummed about family members who seemingly had a lot of money suddenly not being able to come to our overseas wedding, I thought about these things a lot. I rolled these thoughts over and over in my mind, like a hand endlessly kneading a dry piece of clay, trying to make it into something conceivable. At my craziest I thought, "maybe if I was more like them, they would have come."

But sometimes you just can't rationalize why things are the way they are. Sometimes you just have to accept people for who they choose to be and the foreign ways they choose to live their lives. I kept thinking of the James Bay lyrics

Come on let it go
Just let it be 
Why don't you be you
And I'll be me...

I suppose all that was to say, you can't really change people, especially if they don't want to change. But you sure as hell don't have to be like them. And while I briefly flirted with the idea of going back to wearing makeup after 7 years, I decided to stick with it. I'm not afraid to show off a few spots.


 

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