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.
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.
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.
“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