Beauty = Acceptance
I don't know a single woman who can confidently say these words: "I've always known I was beautiful." Nor should she, but that's what my girlfriends and I were discussing last weekend when we got together for pizza and beer. We make plans to get together regularly so that we can check in on one another and encourage each other.
I shared with them a story about a time when I was in junior high and had come to accept my face. Girls talk about a lot of things when they're in a group and mine had chosen "What I'd Change About My Face" as the topic of the day. Like everyone else, I spent hours in the mirror searching for potential zits, learning to line my eyes with a pencil, and pouting my lips to perfect the right amount of lip gloss. We shared that squeezing zits was going to leave scars and found that melting the tip of eyeliner pencils with a lighter helped when putting it on and that there is such a thing as having too much lip gloss.
My grave mistake was saying this: "I like my face. I wouldn't change anything."
Anything? Come on. Your nose. Your eyes. Your chin. It has to be something.
When I insisted that I liked my face they accused me of being a snotty bitch and called me the dreaded C-word: conceited. But I was happy with my face and that lasted until high school when I started noticing changes that I didn't like and allowed their words to seep into my self-esteem. High school, for me, happened in the 80s so it was all Aqua Net and frosted pink lipstick time. Even though I have naturally curly hair I made sure it still looked like everyone else's (thankfully, the 70s were over because I could just NOT master the Farrah flip) and I went about my young teenage life like many girls did in always staying in fashion.
As I grew older, I realized that my hair wasn't fit for the shellacking that hair spray required. Nor did my skin tone match well with frosted pink lipstick. Time in front of the mirror waned, but I still continued to look for things that were wrong until one day when I realized that I still, indeed, liked my face. My nose wasn't shaped funny and my eyes weren't set too far apart. Sure, my forehead was big but that's what bangs were invented for, right?
And then, one day, I noticed it. Everything wasn't perfect, but I really liked my eyes. Shopping for makeup became focused on new, pretty colors of eye shadow. If I left the house without time to put on my entire face then I just narrowed in and got my eyes done. They're greenish blue and stand out against my skin and it took me a long time to like myself for that. My beauty, if you will, didn't transform. Instead, my thoughts about beauty did. Gaining that kind of confidence as a young woman who sees images blasted at her on a daily basis was the beginning of feeling good about myself. I tried hard to toe the line of being "conceited" and even learned how to accept a compliment about them. Instead of just saying Thank you I learned that people like it when you turn it around and include them. How nice of you to say that! Thank you! goes a long way and shows that you know how to take a compliment.
I'm grateful for the times I've gotten to spend with my friends when we talk about our own beauty transformations. As I've aged I find that even when a grey hair or wrinkle shows up, I still have my greenish blue eyes and I still like them and it's fine if I'm happy with that. I could probably stand to lay off all the pizza and beer, though.