As a young teenager, I was forbidden from wearing make-up. I remember being quite upset that my mother wouldn't even consider a measly tube of mascara. Often admiring my friends, I wished I could have all the laughs and fun of getting ready for school together. Was anyone else completely mesmerized by eyeshadow palettes or a collection of glittery lipgloss?
I didn't truly appreciate what my mother was doing. I was caught up in missing out. However, I've come to realize all of the crucial values I took from embracing my natural beauty. Focusing on other aspects of myself, my confidence seemed to be boosted by accomplishments and self-fulfillment rather than receiving empty compliments about my contouring skills.
Clearly, the beauty industry has created unrealistic expectations of what being gorgeous truly represents. Luscious, long hair glistening in the sunlight as your batting eyelashes resemble a majestic butterfly fluttering through the clouds. It is this spectacular idea that we all work effortlessly to achieve and often times fall short of what we have seen in pop culture, advertisements, and social media.
I remain baffled that these influences create an emphasis on appearance in my friends' lives. Let's play devil's advocate for a minute and advocate for the importance of presenting an appropriate appearance tailored to the context of the communication situation. With this disclaimer, I still found it unsettling the obsession my friends managed to find in their make-up. It became an absolute, non-negotiable task, like brushing your teeth or showering -- some of my friends wouldn't visit the gym without a fresh coat of concealer.
I wish they were fearless. Fearless to show their true beauty and what they can offer the world because it is so much more than a smokey eye or glistening highlighter. There is so much beneath the surface that makes people unique and truly defines their natural beauty.
Yes, natural beauty comes from within. It is about the sweet smile you show to others and the strong heart you hang on your shoulders. Once you've realized that no amount of make-up could define who you are, your confident soars and wearing make-up becomes a choice. I do my make-up for an exhilarating night at First Friday with my ladies, but hey if I sleep in before school one morning, I know I can rock the all natural look.
As much as the beauty industry can appear superficial and dominate people's perceptions of perfection, I still wear make-up. I don't wake up three hours before I actually need to leave to create some fabrication of a clown mask. At the end of the night, I can still recognize myself after I've used my make-up remover. Make-up isn't a priority, it is more of a hobby. Something I do for myself, not because I feel obligated to collect other's compliments, but because I love looking at myself in the mirror.
Focusing on myself, I didn't care how I appeared to others because some people accepted me and others didn't. I had a different appreciation for make-up rather than allowing it to define me. The natural beauty I can offer is what I make of myself. Whether I choose to make myself beautiful through my actions or my appearance, my natural beauty is what I make of it, not society.