Sometimes you need a little perspective.
This week’s been crazy and stress always shows up on my skin in clusters of red, angry blemishes. I’ve also slacked on my skincare routine and sleep schedule so I have not felt my best this week. Tonight, my broken-out, no-makeup, dressed-in-comfy-clothes-from-head-to-toe-self walked into an ice cream shop for a little pick-me-up. I wore a hat and tried to be invisible. That’s when two of the sweet teenage girls who were working started to compliment me on my look. I thanked them and explained I was a little bummed and also was just wishing I had thrown on just a little bit of makeup to go out.
“You don’t need makeup,” one of the girls said. “You are beautiful.”
That exchange made me feel so good and it made me stop and think.
This blog is about beauty because I love beauty. I love the products and the creative agency I can have over my look. It helps me take care of myself, too, and that makes me happy. However, I do think we sometimes lose sight of what it means to feel good and to feel beautiful.
When someone compliments us, we should believe it. We should compliment others. Most importantly, we have to remember to see ourselves as what we are: beautiful human beings worthy of love and goodness.
Let me give you my favorite example.
During my sophomore year of college, there was a definite low point as far as my self-care and my health was concerned. My eating schedule was horrific, my sleep schedule was nonexistent, my drinking (Everyone does it, Mom!) was getting excessive and I was hardly getting any exercise — or sunlight, for that matter. As a new group of freshmen came in, all I saw were girls who were better than me: smarter, prettier, skinnier, nicer, etc. I wanted to be what I saw in everyone else and I was putting myself under impossible stress to do so. I would stare at myself in the mirror and pick myself apart for hours, usually until I cried, and vowed to “fix” or “cover up” all the “bad” parts of me.
A group of my girlfriends lived in a suite and one of their roommates was a freshman. She looked like everything I thought I could never be: shiny blonde hair, crystal blue eyes and the whitest, straightest teeth I had ever seen on a real human. She also was super smart and on a medical track. (She also was, and still is, an extremely sweet girl.)
One time, at a house party (because where else?), all us girls were gathered in the kitchen, and my roommate and I started to tell this girl she looked like a certain celebrity. We excitedly brought up pictures to compare on our third-generation iPhones. She looked from the screen to us, confused.
“But she’s, like, really pretty,” she said, incredulously.
That’s when it hit me: we all think we’re ugly. We are all convinced we are hideous ogres. We compare ourselves to everyone we come in any sort of contact with and lament on what they have and what we don’t.
Even this human Barbie had no idea she was a human Barbie.
I’ve come a long way from my 19-year-old self and I don’t dread looking in the mirror anymore but I can still fall in to those destructive thoughts. We all can — some more dangerously than others. That’s why it’s my responsibility, as somebody who writes about beauty, to ensure the message I’m sending is clear.
Makeup, skin care, fragrance and hair care light me up. I can tailor my look to my mood and I could be whoever and whatever I want to be, expressing myself through my style by using those tools. We have to remember, however, those things are just that: tools. They do not make us who we are. If you like to explore new product, play with different looks or enhance what you love about yourself, that’s great but I would never want anyone to think they NEED any of this stuff to be “more” anything. You are always enough.
Taking care of ourselves is so important and I spread the gospel of self-care through beauty, skin and haircare but we have to make sure we’re feeling as good on the inside as we do on the outside.
We all deserve to feel beautiful.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT