I was sitting in the car with my roommate as we journeyed out to her grandmothers house when she brought up our appearances. "Yasmeen," she said, "we really need to start focusing on what we look like so we can feel better about ourselves." At the time, I had nodded and smiled, brushing her suggestion off in my head because I knew myself and I knew that I'd never really tried anything special with my appearance. I hadn't even worn makeup to my senior prom and I wore a dress I'd owned for months. Her suggestion just didn't make sense to me. Later that day, I was searching in my closet, sifting through clothes (mind you, I was just looking for that one really comfortable sweater I loved) when I realized that maybe it was time to start investing in my appearance. High school me would have thrown up at the idea, her obvious self-esteem issues being the biggest block in the road to looking good. But college me jumped up and down at the idea, and since then, I've started focusing on looking and feeling good. In honor of that, here's five things I learned when I began investing in my appearance.
1. It’s difficult.
My new rule for myself is that I invest in my hair, face, or outfit everyday. Let me tell you- it sucks. It’s hard to twist my thick and unruly hair into some DIY hairdo that Pinterest shoves in my face. It’s hard to apply eyeliner when I know that one wing is going to look like it’s ready to fly off into the sky whilst the other is a symbolic messy metaphor for my life. And it’s definitely hard to realize that apparently, you can’t wear white after labor day (I question who the hell came up with that one…). I mean, really, I have no idea what I'm doing when I hold a makeup brush to my face and mess around with foundation. But hey, that's the fun of it, right?
2. I have no idea what my style is.
Am I boho-chic? Hipster? Casual? What do my clothes say about my style inspiration? Sure, I love looking at Perrie Edwards and wanting all her clothing, but does my style reflect that? It’s hard to figure out what kind style I gravitate towards because I usually just wear anything that makes me feel happy and comfortable. Does the fact that I own a lot of black clothing mean that I have a grungier sense of style? Or do the floral, loose fitting blouses indicate that I'm more boho than I though? Who the hell knows.
3. I’m really not dressing up for anyone but myself.
I promise. Most often when men and women decide to dress themselves up it’s inferred that they are dressing up for another person. What happened to rocking a smokey eye because you felt like it?! Are we really that behind, people? Yes, there will be times in life when your outfit and your appearance will be specifically put together for other people, and yes, that’s okay. There have definitely been times where I put on a specific top because I knew that really loved it. But I promise you, I usually want to wear the clothes I wear because I think I look cute in them.
4. I had to learn to take a compliment- from both myself and others.
When I started to wear makeup more frequently and really put together my outfits, other people noticed. My friends would comment on a lipstick shade I was wearing or how I had braided my hair. And that, to me, was downright scary. It helped me realize that when people had been looking before and had complimented me on a part of my body, they had actually meant it. If people only compliment you when you're all made up, it doesn't really mean anything. It became easier to hear compliments because I realized that I was just as beautiful without any work done to my appearance. But just because I let other people compliment me, didn't mean it was as easy to compliment myself. Looking in the mirror and saying something nice about yourself sounds easy, but it felt like climbing an uphill mountain. I felt like I was hyping myself up just to say I liked the way a pair of jeans looked on my body. But it all became worth it when I felt better for saying it.
5. I feel really good.
I do. Believe me. Whether investing in your appearance means a full face of makeup or wearing a nice blouse, let me tell you- you shine. Though your outer appearance is not as important as what’s inside (I feel like I’ve quoted every cheesy Pinterest board at this point), feeling confident on the outside will help you feel confident on the inside. And hey, if you can feel confidence in ways other than your appearance, good for you! Really, the point of it all is to feel happy and confident, regardless of where you find it.