You know those moments, when reality reveals itself to you so bluntly you nearly collapse under the truth of it, under the weight of the realization that you can no longer remain ignorant to its presence? I can count on one hand the times reality has done that, has broken me, or simply given me new perspective as to the impact of the choices I’ve made, and am making. This morning, and the truth I found in a moment of stillness, was one of those occasions. One of those occasions in which I was not me, but rather seeing myself; watching myself.
It was early. I was standing before my mirror, mindlessly following the flow of routine; the only thing anyone can possibly rely on in the hours before 8AM, when anything is possible, and the world seems impossibly large. Midst the sound of water running down the drain, a door slamming, and the hum of the refrigerator, I paused. One hand wrapped around a bottle of mascara, the other curling my eyelashes before reaching for an eyebrow pencil—all within the span of a minute—but I paused for a moment. I looked up, and met the eyes of my reflection; eyes rimmed with black and edged with a shadow meant to age me 10 years because if a girl doesn’t wear makeup, than how can she possibly call herself a woman? If a girl doesn’t wear makeup, she doesn’t put enough effort into her appearance. If a girl doesn’t wear makeup, she looks a child. If a girl doesn’t wear makeup, ‘something looks different about her today.’ If a girl doesn’t wear makeup ‘she’s not ok,’ ‘she’s not feeling well,’ ‘doesn’t look like herself,’ or maybe, maybe, if a girl isn’t wearing makeup, she just isn’t wearing makeup.
Because girls who don’t believe themselves to be beautiful should not have to MAKE UP for what they believe themselves to lack in shades of lipstick and contour palettes. But who we are is not defined by our abilities hide the shadows beneath our eyes and the spots on our chins. Bodies are just bodies, and maybe you think that your skin is too pale and your eyes too close together, but you’re living, you are alive. Why isn’t that enough?
‘The average woman spends two years of her life applying make up.’
Upon reading that I felt empty, and ashamed, because losing 2 years of my life is losing 730 tomorrows; 730 chances to start again. Being confronted with this truth, and having seen, really seen, myself for the first time this morning, with my cheeks painted and all of the me drained out of myself, I chose to make a change. I chose to fear not the world’s thoughts on the appearance of my face beneath the mask I thought I had to wear to be considered beautiful, but the danger of conformity. The danger of being so consumed by the opinions of others that you forget to love yourself. They do not have to love you, but you do. You have to love you, because in that embracing of yourself you will find beauty for what it truly is.