There has been a thought that has been buzzing around in my head since Monday and today I want to share and explore this thought.
It happened when I was getting ready to go out. I looked in the mirror like you usually do but this time it was different – I REALLY looked at myself. And then the strangest but the most beautiful and overwhelming thing as a young woman happened. I said out aloud to myself this, ‘I look pretty without any make-up on.’.
Why is it strange? Well that’s simple, because I’ve never thought I was pretty. Maybe I’m an attractive girl when my face is muddied with foundation and my features enhanced by kohl eye liner, blusher and lipstick. But never without it, without it I just see myself as me; not necessarily ugly or un-pretty but just me as a person, yet I would never say that I am beautiful or pretty. And I have had twenty years of this.
Two things of curiosity entered my mind after I made this statement to myself. First, how have I managed to reach this epic conclusion about my natural appearance. Second, is it vain to see your natural-self as pretty or beautiful?
The issue roots from the majority of the population not being given room to believe that ‘au naturel’ is beautiful. Women and men spend most of their teenage and adult life being told how to look, who is beautiful or hot, what to wear, what to buy; what to eat, the list is impossible, and a lot of these companies write contradictory statements about natural beauty and loving ourselves for who we are. Well now that is real mind boggling and mental torture for anyone that religiously follows lifestyle/fashion/beauty in the media. And conclusively women mostly are fed and led to believe that we’re not beautiful enough or if even at all.
My Beauty Journey
When I’d just got into my teens I wished I was white, I thought that being white meant that you were beautiful and being mixed race wasn’t. I soon got out of that notion when I looked around at my family and saw the gorgeousness of my sisters, my mom, my cousis; aunties and my grandmother. There was no reason to think that the colour of my skin made me any less beautiful because – it’s just a pigment! As I got a little older and began to get spots and skin blemishes I believed I was ugly because I didn’t have lovely clear skin like these celebrities do and I began to loathe my skin and so the make-up came. I used make-up as a way to hide what I thought was ugliness. People would always tell me that I looked beautiful without make-up on and I just could not believe them, how could I be when beauty isn’t blemished? Then I found out about airbrushing when I was fifteen and realised that actually these celebrities are just like me, they have spots, acne and blemishes, they just have someone who’s good at photoshop edit those bits out. They are not flawless. Which was when I cut down on the obsessive need to wear make-up to hide my skin, I accepted that I had flaws, because so did everybody else, after all we’re all human. Between then and now, so about four years, I’ve just been accepting of myself and what I look like, there’s days I wear make-up, but most of the time I don’t. I don’t need to because I’m in my house, or I just cannot be bothered with the effort and plus it’s so much better for your skin. BUT I still hate the blemishes I just rooted it somewhere to the back of my mind and come to terms with the fact that they’re there, if I could wave them away with a wand – I would. My family and friends still always tell me that I’m pretty without make-up and I still didn’t believe them, because to me my blemishes aren’t beautiful, because quite simply I’m just not pretty. I’m just me. But, when my boyfriend told me for the first time I was beautiful without make up on suddenly I began to accept this opinion, not believe it, but accept it. Every day he tells me I’m beautiful and I can be around him without made-up face of make-up, because I don’t need to be, I don’t feel as if I need to. And when people we love tell us that we are gorgeous or give us a compliment we find it hard to take it on board and just say ‘Thank you’, why? I don’t have an actual answer to that, but I know that we need to start accepting these compliments and believing that they are true, because they are, if someone that loves you wouldn’t change you for the world, if you love yourself, why would you want to change yourself? Believe you are beautiful and show yourself that you love yourself!
You’re So Vain!
Which brings me to the question of vanity. Is recognising yourself as beautiful vain? Are there ‘critics’ and ‘experts’ that say that it is because being excessive with your looks is vanity, and believing that you’re beautiful is excessive? I don’t believe that loving yourself in that way is vain, how can it be if you love yourself enough to recognise that you are beautiful just as you are. Of course if we all believed that and stopped using cosmetics there would be a lot of big companies going bust – it’s comforting to know that our insecurities put a roof over people’s heads and money in their pockets. I believe that there is no vanity in being natural, that would mean that nature itself is vain, so why don’t we begin to love ourselves, look in the mirror without the slap and say, ‘I am pretty!’. Maybe if we said to ourselves enough times we’d believe in it.
So do it, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re gorgeous, and you are; because you are you.
― Yves Saint-Laurent