Friday, March 29, 2013

Take Back Your Beauty

This show is everything that is wrong


I was talking with a friend the other day and she had tried out a new hairstyle. I asked if she liked it and she answered, "I think it's ok, but nobody has said anything yet."

My immediate thought was, "But I asked if YOU liked it."

This is something that we all (especially women) have done and most still do. We dress, we primp, we style - and we do it all for others. We look in the mirror and try to see our reflection through the eyes of our target audience. I don't know how many times I've actually taken a picture of myself in a new outfit with my iphone - not because I want to share the new duds, but because I'm convinced that my own eyes are broken and a photo is a more accurate representation of how others will see me.

We've built entertainment franchises around this - What Not To Wear is a prime example of telling people that their eyes are broken, that they really need to stop trusting themselves when it comes to their personal beauty. We take people who were happily wandering around wearing whatever the fuck they wanted and we said, "Oh no! Didn't you know you've been doing this wrong all along?" And we put them in a room of mirrors and show them the way that they "really" look.

I used to watch the hell out of that show. I used to watch it and laugh and joke about sending in a tape about my mom and her penchant for all items of clothing $2 or less - regardless of size, color or style. I would check out magazines to see what was "hot" for the season. I would throw out my leggings when the experts said I should. I moved from rounded toe shoes to pointy and then back to rounded. I drew my eyebrows heavy, then soft, now full. My colors were safe and my cuts were flattering. And I fit in and felt comfortable knowing that at the very least, I wasn't offending anyone and at best, someone would say that I was pretty.

Women in this world are made for external consumption. So much about us is voted on by committee. We are told from the time we are small that we are like a house for sale - spotlessly clean, painted beige, with subtle and tasteful decor that any man can see himself at home in.

If you are like I was - and sometimes still am - you've bought into this. If you don't know how to feel about the way you look until you get to work ,or your date says, "you look nice" - if you thank a friend for telling you that an outfit you are wearing is "unflatering," I have two questions for you:

Are you having any fun?
How would you dress if nobody could ever give you any feedback on how you looked or what was in style?

One day, I was lucky enough to discover that I wasn't having fun at all. I realized that the entire time I was agonizing over an outfit, or turning down a lovely frock because it wasn't what I was "supposed" to be wearing, or going for a more neutral color as to not seem "loud" - I didn't want to wear any of it. Even worse, I had no idea what I wanted to wear. 25+ years of going, "I dunno, what do you think?" will do horrible things for your sense of self.

So I started working on figuring out what my own personal beauty is. This is was my own personal method:

1. I started making more instinctual decisions. I would wander around clothing stores and if I saw a dress or an outfit that appealed to me, but it didn't seem "safe", I would find my size and buy it without trying it on.

2. I would put it on and just wear it around the house all day. I would pass by the mirror and look at myself. I would usually go "eek! How would people see this? Does this make my thighs look big?" But there was nobody there to answer, so I would just keep going about my day. And as I kept passing by mirrors (there are way too many in my house btw), I would take a look at myself and eventually I would get comfortable. By the end of the day, I would feel comfortable saying, "I like this" or "Nope, I don't like this." I can tell you that about 80% of the time, my gut instinct was right and I did like it.

3. If I liked the outfit, I would swap it in for one of my boring safe outfits which I would donate to charity.

4. I would wear the outfit to work, or out to dinner and I'd refuse to cover it up with a boring sweater and I'd refuse to ask anyone how I looked.

Eventually I had a closet full of things I like, and a pretty strong sense of my own personal beauty. And I realized two very important things:

1. What you wear will have zero effect on anyone's day but your own.
and
2, Nothing looks better than someone who is having fun

I don't know if anyone remembers how I used to be before I started doing this. How quiet and unsure I was all the time. How apologetic for my loud and colorful nature I was. Probably not, I was very hard to notice back then - I was trying so very very hard to stand out by fading in. It reflected every aspect of my life, something as silly as fashion.

my look this week


Currently, my own style grows and changes, I'm always trying new things. I'm still scouring magazines and the internet on the reg, but it's no longer for new "rules" to adhere to- it's now for new ideas, techniques and inspiration. I LIKE fashion now (and honestly, you don't have to like it at all) - I'm a creative person and I like putting together different looks. I am certainly not going to claim that I know longer care what people think of me - any of my facebook friends know I'm still a sucker for a compliment. But now, I'd rather people appreciate the way that I express myself, than my ability to conform. I'm already happy with how I look before I share another annoying selfie on the web (which I'm going to totally keep doing forever, sorry friends for clogging your feed) and that happiness doesn't change, regardless of how many "likes" I do or do not get. I appreciate myself more for  my ability to be myself. It's a subtle change, but it's been a big one for me.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this. It's so true. And it takes a great deal of courage to be as honest about it as you are.

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  2. This is sooo YES! Made my day better to read it. Not that you need the validation from me, but let me say you are gorgeous, and in part it's because you look so happy. I need to do this exact thing to my closet. :)

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