When I was younger, probably about 10 or 11, I remember having the discussion with my older brother about how “women were just not as strong” as men. It was just a fact in his mind. And it made me upset. Yes, on average, women are not built with as much muscle. Often a man is much taller than a woman. And yes, I am one to call for my husband many times because “I need someone tall.” However, frankly, I could still do it if no one else were there, because I own a step-ladder. I’ve been a feminist and a strong female since I as a kid.
I grew up a “tom-boy” through and through. Maybe it’s because I had an older brother, but I grew up someone who really disdained having to wear a dress on Sundays. (I rarely do so anymore. Slacks and a nice top work for me today.) I played Atari when my brother’s school ran later than mine. I explored the creeks and woods around my home. I rode my mom’s old bicycle and called her “Blue”. She was my faithful steed. I hated the smell of nail polish, nail polish remover, and only once played with my aunt’s makeup. It was more like an art project than a “make myself pretty” experiment. I just wasn’t interested. In a related incident, when given a Barbie, I looked at her, took her outfit off and put it on one of my My Little Ponies.
Being pretty didn’t matter to me.
I never was told I was beautiful. When I dressed nicely, wore heels, I was told what a nice outfit that was. Or I looked so grown-up. I didn’t really mind because being pretty wasn’t important to me. I wanted to be awesome. I wanted to live an adventurous life. Being pretty didn’t matter. In fact, I started to scorn “pretty”. Those people who worshipped at the altar of looks were so shallow, so ugly on the inside. And looking at the recent scandal of the “woman” who took a picture of someone at a local gym and scorned her, laughing, publishing it for all to see, there are still plenty of heartless people who think themselves full of beauty, when they sure aren’t acting like it.
However, me shaking my finger at a girl who liked to wear eye-shadow or tease their bangs, as we did in the ‘90s, is just as shallow as those people mocking me for not doing the same thing. So, I truly question myself now, as I get older, and I have found myself drawn into being a Rodan + Fields consultant. Why do I care about wrinkles? Why do I care about sun damage? Am I being shallow? My brother, who dealt with acne in his younger years and shares the same freckles as me, once asked me angrily, “So? Why are freckles bad?” And I stammered, well, they’re fine for guys, but…” And it was the wrong answer. Freckles aren’t bad. Freckles aren’t anything. Skin cancer is bad, but if you don’t mind spots on your face, go freckles! Frankly, there are some freckles that I absolutely adore. (And I’m pretty sure my mother adored my freckles the same way.)
So, why, after a lifetime of not caring about pretty, am I promoting premium skin care? Because it started mattering to me. Not a lot. I don’t go around judging people. I don’t shake my finger at people and say, “Your pores could be smaller” or think, “Wow, that person is wrinkly.” But I started looking at my face and seeing things I didn’t like. I notice there are a lot more brown spots on my arms. There are little wrinkles around my eyes. And instead of cute freckles, I was sporting some brown-ish blotches. And I could say, “Okay. This is what I look like now.”
I could watch YouTube videos of how to wear make-up. (I did this. And the possibility of a 15-year-old zit-faced girl to go from what would be mocked to the most “beautiful” popular girl with make-up was astonishing to me. What “paint” can do for your face and social status, eh?)
I don’t “get” make-up. I tried to get into it once, around age 15. I ended up being sold some greenish concealer to take the red out of my skin where I sported some blemishes, which then had to be covered with foundation. I tried it, only to be told I was wearing too much make-up. I tried once again at age 32 or so try wearing foundation. My mom asked me, “What’s that stuff on your face?” So, make-up is not for me.
But then I saw something that looks like it can change your face. I don’t have to cover it up if I don’t want to. I don’t have to put on lipstick. I don’t have to dab green stuff on my face. I can just wear my face the way I want to. My skin is going back to the me I used to be, the me I recognize. But should it matter? Am I being wasteful? Am I being shallow?
My friend has a book of Jamberry nail wraps that she brought over. She asked if I wanted to try them and I said, sure, I’d try a couple. (I mean, they have Marvel comics patterns now, after all.) And I talked about how much they cost, and how much I’ve spent on pedicures and manicures before and how silly it is to spend money on this stuff. And she said, “But isn’t it fun?”
And then it hit me. Spend money on what you want to. It’s okay. It’s okay to spend money on Rodan + Fields or Jamberry or Younique if you want to. It doesn’t make you shallow (even though I don’t care for the big mascara look myself). I get upset when I see little girls made up and told over and over they “look great” or (shudder) “look sexy”. SHE IS SIX! SHE IS NOT SEXY! I am that feminist mom who will show the unrealities of grocery store magazines to her daughter. I show them the video that teaches about Photoshopping and how even the models don’t look like their own pictures. But if you want to change your look, go ahead.
Being pretty still has nothing to do with our bodies. Wrinkles– either you hate them or you don’t mind them, or you embrace them! A little jiggle– that’s where I carried my babies. That’s where I was once very muscular from running and rowing. The details of your body– some might call them imperfections– they’re all you. And whatever you want to do to your body, go ahead and do it. Fix the bondo on your car. Cover it with bumper stickers or tattoos. Get a new paint job, dye your hair whatever you want to. Get the dents bumped out and polished over. It has nothing to do with femininity and everything to do with expressing yourself. And if it helps your self-confidence, do it! I want to look my best. I see these little things popping up here and there, and although I need to accept that age 18 was 20 years ago, there’s nothing wrong with exercising, eating right– (Damn you, ice cream!) Using Rodan + Fields to make my skin look the way I want to, and dying my hair to whatever hue I might enjoy.
Expressing myself, spending money on decorating myself, my house, my car, my vehicle for life, there is nothing wrong with it. And I would rather be proud to live in a well-kept house than a broken building. So, I accept myself. And I embrace my new venture in seeing if anyone else is interested in doing the same thing. And I sure am loving the web of women working together in this team effort to move forward. I love empowering each other and pushing ourselves forward in all our goals!
Being “pretty” still doesn’t matter to me. There are many more important things to life than being pretty. But I owe it to myself to not necessarily put everyone else first and myself always last. I am allowed to adorn my home, whether it’s the one I have a mortgage on or the one in which I traipse around in every day. And if I don’t take care of that home, it’s going to fall apart. And that’s not good for anyone.