Beauty ≠ Perfection

True beauty does not come from an outward appearance. We all know that the youthful skin fades, hair becomes brittle, and the skin starts to sag. Even yet, one of the most beautiful humans I have ever met was a woman in her 60’s with more wrinkles and smile lines than one could count, graying dreadlocks halfway down her back, some mismatch of dirt bag clothing, a twinkle in her eye, a pop in her step, and the yearning she still portrayed in her age to live for every single day. She was beautiful because she didn’t care about age, make up, vanity or superficial lust. She was kind, strong in herself, posessed passion and the perseverance to defy society’s standards and live how she wanted to live.

**Disclaimer : I am by no means attempting to alter anyone’s personal decision or trying to make anyone feel bad about the way they live their life. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and set of morals. I am simply sharing my story. 

The mask of makeup – cosmetic chemicals meant to enrich beauty and portray one as someone different. Makeup was one of the hardest things for me to let go of. On my first backpacking trip a few years back, I actually brought lipstick. I kid you not. I am ashamed to tell you that I did indeed use this said lipstick to look better in my backpacking photos. The smile of a woman confident in her own beauty is far superior to any amount of makeup she could apply. This realization was by far the hardest for me to accept. For a woman, the ability to cover up a pimple is so easy! Why expose imperfections when it takes 5 seconds to pretend they’re not there? Because we will always have imperfections, it’s inevitable. Not one person walking on this earth is perfect! There is a unique beauty in each imperfection that we have. We need to accept these imperfections to be able to love and express what we possess in our heart. I’m not the prettiest woman in the room by society’s standards, there are far more beautiful women out there in this world but I have one thing that others’ do not, my own body and my own soul. No one can replicate what we have within: our spirit, our attitude, our true beauty.

My idea of perfection 5 years ago as an easily manipulated and influenced teenager. A high school senior photograph shot by Sara Dastagir.

When I was growing up through my teenage years I thought I needed makeup, and I was not the only young girl feeling like this. For me, the underlining of makeup taught me that our imperfections can be covered for a few hours only to be washed away with the imperfections still present. The pressures of society for me growing up included unrealisticly photoshopped magazine covers, articles on how to have “perfect skin and perfect hair”, and tutorials instructing readers on how to apply makeup like the newest hit celeb. It teaches young girls that it’s okay to be fake, it’s okay to lie about how we look, it’s okay to enter in to a false reality. What effect does this have on a young girl who thinks she needs to be perfect? She will never learn to accept her own imperfections, never learn to love what she has to offer, she will only learn to cover up what she thinks is undesirable. Our imperfections make all of us unique and beautiful in our own right. Who cares if our skin isn’t flawless? Who cares if we have a gap tooth or a few crooked chompers? Who cares if we’re all not a size 2 with a thigh gap? Who cares if our hair isn’t ready to be photographed for an editorial every minute or every single day? Who cares if we don’t have ginormous, plump, kissable lips? Who cares if our nose is a little crooked? Who cares if we don’t look like a manufactured Barbie Doll? True beauty comes from strength, perseverance, kindness, courage, honesty, a wholesome spirit, a tenacious set of morals and resolute love.  

The road to perfection is very similar to the road to happiness. If one is seeking to attain happiness, the goal will never be achieved because there is no end to the road. Happiness is an everyday emotion derived from acceptance and the joy of living for every day. I view perfection in the same light. Sure, I could go to a dermatologist and leave with a prescription for clear skin with chemically manufactured  magic for perfect skin. I could go to a salon every 6 weeks and blow $50 to gain perfect hair and I could get a mani/pedi for $70 for 20 perfect little digits for 2 weeks. But this all fades. What happens if all these luxeries weren’t available anymore? Would the folks that use these beauty tricks be deemed “ugly”? Absolutely not! They would be natural. 

The beginning of my swearing off of all things unnatural. This was taken the morning after my two road trip buddies and I woke up on a deserted beach on the Pacific Ocean without a shower for at least 1 month and smiling without a care in the world.

My use of makeup was never irrationally excessive, I always preferred a more “natural” look while accentuating certain features. I got along with this way of thinking for quite some time because no one thought I was ever wearing makeup. I had boyfriends raving about how cool their girlfriend was because she didn’t wear makeup. I never had the guts or the heart to tell them the truth, one of my many teenage insecurities. These guys never knew I secretly accentuated what I had to look like a better version of natural. Now you ask, “why wear makeup in the first place if you were only using it to make a ‘natural’ look?” My point exactly. I wanted to look natural but didn’t possess the confidence to actually be natural. I wasn’t satisfied in my own natural skin, so I applied the mask of a natural skin to boost my confidence.

A few days before Alex and I got married, I was playing around deciding whether or not I wanted to wear makeup for our wedding photos. I applied just the bare minimum makeup and walked around that day trying not to scratch my eyes or rub my face. I felt like a fraud and I sure didn’t want to feel like a fraud on the day I vowed to be true to my husband until my dying breath. Needless to say, I was 100% natural in my own skin on our wedding day. I took a shower and didn’t use any heat or creams on my hair, save a little hairspray to hold my hair in place with my crown. I didn’t wear any makeup, nail polish or perfume. What I portrayed walking down the aisle with my father was exactly what Alex knew he was promising to be faithful to.

I am by no means beautiful by society’s standards – I have zits when I eat junk food, I have this weird mop of a haircut because Alex cuts my hair and I can’t justify spending our travel funds on a salon visit, I chew my fingernails down to stubs because I can’t keep track of a nail clippers, I am a size 8 because I have muscle on my body that I’m dang proud of. Through all of this, I’ve never felt more beautiful because right now, I’m doing what I love and am not concerned in the least bit about what I look like on the outside. I care about whether I can climb up the mountain I’ve got my eyes set on, whether I can pull an overhang off of a vertical rock face, whether I can carry my 30 lb pack for 38 miles across the Teton Crest Trail, or whether I can ski all day through a bakers dozen of fresh powder.

A photo from last summer climbing one of my favorite peaks, Table Mountain. This was during the time that Alex and I lived in our tent for 2 months while working 2-3 jobs, showering every 10 days and cooking our meals over a fire. I’ve never felt more alive. Photo by my good hiking buddy, Allison Render.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” -Henry David Thoreau

102 thoughts on “Beauty ≠ Perfection

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  2. Amazingly true ❤
    Reading your post sends me a surge of excitement as it talks about being comfortable in your own skin and this is exactly what I have been trying to and to some extent was able to achieve.
    You write amazing things and your words start a wave of shift in me. Thank you 🙂


  3. I went through a similar transition. I brought face powder, blush and eyeliner when I went backpacking through SE Asia, and guess what happened to it. It sweat right off my face everyday! I ended up ditching it all together and I’m so happy I did. It was so weird at first, it felt like I was walking out the door naked. For some reason I felt like everyone was staring at me as if they knew I wasn’t wearing any. That just seems absurd to me now. I got over it fast and hey, I can sleep in longer now! Now that I’m back home, I feel weird when I DO wear makeup. Thanks for this. Also, your photos are beautiful.


  4. Thank you for stopping by my Blog! I appreciate your “Like” and I am happy because it lead me here on your beautiful Blog! Very Inspiring! I will follow and I hope that you will follow back so that we can stay connected with our journeys here in this world…btw I am Carolina and I am an Artist Designer I create jewlry inspired by nature and I express my creativity in many different ways I love Photography, Digital Art, Watercolor painting, Illustration, Creative writings and more…let’s stay connected! 🙂

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      1. Thank you Becca you will see more… I love to create unique jewelry in my artistic vision we all are different and each jewelry design is exclusively created for the person that order it that’s why uniqueness is very important to me! Much Love sent to your way…

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  5. I don’t wear makeup either, but in my case it doesn’t have anything to do with confidence. It’s part laziness, part the fact that I can’t make my makeup look really natural and part, my family doesn’t believe in using makeup.
    But mentally, I want to get to the place where I don’t wear makeup because I’m confident enough to go without. I’m still in high-school, and I’ve heard that confidence is something that comes with age.
    And this post is very inspiring.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Confidence may come with age but I think it comes more with experiences and gaining your own footing in this world! For me, I found more confidence in myself with each situation that I went through that tested my morals and beliefs. Maybe this isn’t the confidence in the sense of how I physically look, but it helped me shape what I stand for and what I live for! Age gives us the time to go through experiences 🙂 Highschool was an extremely tough time for me because I didn’t know what I stood for. No two people are the same, I wish you lots of amazing experiences and love!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post. I always, always love how beauty that shines from the inside is so much brighter than beauty worn on the outside. In my younger days, I was a hiker and camper – lived a month in a tent in Wyoming. This post brought back great memories. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nicely said. It’s funny that people forget when we call a mountain beautiful, we are looking at the beauty of it as a whole. We’re not nit-picking the craggy rocks, dead vegetation or uneven slopes. It is all those imperfections that come together and create one beauty. We need to remember that applies to all things in nature, including ourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Many years back I spent time at sea on a sailboat. For weeks I didn’t wash my hair with shampoo. Just the saltwater jumping off the deck onto a line. My hair after that time never felt better, and has never since—so, I totally get what you’re saying, many many later as time has criss-crossed its way across by eyes, across my face, across me all…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had the same experience! Obviously with our life style, showers aren’t too often. We jump in lakes and rivers to wash off and after about 10 days without washing my hair, it looks better than it would straight out of a shower! Amazing how our bodies need so little of the modern amenities we get accustomed to.


  9. Love your honesty and you look gorgeous. Two things – first, I’ve never felt so good as when I spent 5 months backpacking in Africa with no mirror – I felt great! (Quite shocked when I did see one, though!). Mirrors should be banned. Second, I find now that a bit of make up now and again is fine. It’s ok to boost yourself sometimes, and feel a bit brighter. Make-up and clothes are part of the same thing. It’s authenticity that’s key. If you’re faking it, it’s not right. If you fancy a bit of pink lipstick, that’s fine. We beat ourselves up too much! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jane! Thanks for reaching out and sharing your views. I agree, makeup isn’t terrible by any means and it comes with moderation and self authenticity. For me, I was never strong enough to just dabble, it was all makeup or all natural. I felt so much better all natural so that’s where I am right now! I bet your backpacking trip in Africa was incredible, I want to go sometime soon in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great, thought provoking read! This really resonates with me. Celeb magazines? Not interested, theyre filled with fakery, and unattainable ideas of what the ideal woman should look like. I could never achieve such an appearance without making myself utterly miserable in the process, and I doubt there are many who could. I dont wear makeup if I can get away with it… Im 23, of course I can get away with it, now, or in 30, 40+ years time, youre totally right. I dont wear it when Im outdoors walking, running, climbing, or even when im working, so whats the difference between that and a social event? The people I care about see me as I am, so why do I cover my face in foundation for people who probably couldnt care less!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely! I grew up with celeb magazines geared for teens and it was filled with how to cake on makeup, how to make my hair look like a movie star and other mindless print. Confidence and a strong belief speak louder than any perfect face ever could. Glad you’re sticking to your guns, Sophia!!


  11. “The smile of a woman confident in her own beauty is far superior to any amount of makeup she could apply. ” Love this! Great post. I’ve been telling women this for years, but it’s hard to break habits and free yourself from society’s “ideals.”

    Liked by 1 person

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