One thing I rarely go out of the house without wearing is mascara. I have never been one to wear a ton of makeup and as a matter of fact, most of my life I've hated it. Even during my rebellious teen years, makeup was not included on my list of things to fight with my mom about. See, I grew up with a hairdresser for a grandmother and an aesthetician for a mom. Both of whom are extremely concerned with the way they look. Every time I've gone to eat with my grandmother, the first thing she does after eating is she pulls out her mirror and carefully re-applies the lipstick she lost during the meal. When she broke her knee, after calling for help, she crawled herself into her bedroom and found a way to reach her dresser so that she wouldn't have to go to the hospital or be seen by anyone without "her face" on.
My mom told me at age 19 that I needed to start wearing eye cream because I had dark circles under my eyes. She also grounded me once in high school because I performed in a choir concert without makeup on. The list goes on and on. Combine my family's obsession for remaining ageless with our society's expectations of beauty and you have a complete recipe for impossible standards. All of my life, no matter what weight I've been or how clear my skin was or how straight and shiny I managed to get my hair, I've always felt inadequate in terms of my appearance. I think most women, if not all, would tell you they have struggled with some form of insecurity when it comes to looks. I think its natural to have doubts sometimes. I wonder though, if we got completely honest, how many of us would say that it isn't just a fleeting doubt we have on an occasional 'bad hair day' but its more like an irrational, continuous gnawing at our self worth?
Theta Mom just did a great post about beauty and our struggles as women and I'm so thankful for those of us that are fighting for women to re-define their worth and standard of what is beautiful. Cause lets face it, whether we are a beauty queen, a model or an average woman living everyday life, most of us will never feel we are good enough on some level.
In fact, the other day I was looking back at pictures from a formal I went to during college, about six years ago. I was probably the smallest I have ever been in my young adult life, squeezing into a size 2, Jessica McClintock dress. I see those pictures now and I would give anything to look the way I did back then. The funny thing about it though, is that I remember feeling incredibly insecure at the time. I remember comparing myself to my girlfriend who had made the trip with me. I felt self conscious because I couldn't run like she did and I didn't have perfect skin or wash-and-wear hair, I felt out of shape and overweight.
It saddens me to know that I've lived under that kind of shame and pressure most of my life. So, I'm trying to take a step back now. I'm taking a look at my beliefs and I'm re-evaluating the way I view myself. I was talking to a girlfriend about this recently and she asked me if there was something I could do to start taking my power back. There are a lot of things that I do in order to meet our world's standard of beauty... whatever that may be.
Mascara is just one of those things. I'm not quite brave enough to go to work or out on a daily basis without make up, but I can give up my mascara. It's the one thing that I feel makes a big difference and it's also the one thing that bugs me the most. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten mascara in my eyes in the middle of a procedure at work or while I'm driving. My favorite though, is when I'm in an isolation room, gloved, gowned, masked and yup, here it comes...my eyes start watering, black streaks begin to pour down my cheeks and I can't touch anything without going through the whole obnoxious process of taking everything off, walking out of the room, washing my hands and at that point I'm a complete mess.
So, here goes, for now I'm gonna pass on the mascara and I'm gonna take that first step of learning, (hopefully) to be okay with just plain old me...make up or not.