Growing up, I always followed the conventional practices of beauty without question. It wasn’t until I tossed my tweezers in an effort to test a new trend that I started recognizing how many cosmetic practices I was following blindly and without reason. After revisiting all of the things women do to obtain beauty, not only was I left asking where does it end, but further who says?
As women, we’re subliminally instructed to do a lot of things in order to be beautiful: wax your eyebrows, paint your nails, dye your hair, pierce your ears…the list goes on (I’m sure you know!). However, what I’m calling into question is not so much the fact that the list exists, but rather that I had never before stopped to question it.
For me, this revelation stemmed from the moment I decided to stop plucking my eyebrows a few years back. Like many girls out there no doubt, this choice was inspired by supermodel Cara Delevingne, who’s strong, iconic beauty left onlookers wanting bolder brows. So, as any trend aspiring teenage girl would do, I stopped plucking my eyebrows. Doing this almost felt too good to be true…not only was I “on trend”, but I was also saving money and sparing myself the pain of waxing!
As my brows began to grow in, I couldn’t help but revel in how much I loved them! Rather than feeling unkept, I actually felt like an exotic runway model, combing my brows into place each morning. As I started to reflect on all of the years I had waxed, plucked and shaped my brows into thin arched lines I couldn’t help but feel ridiculous. Suddenly, the idea of waxing one’s eyebrows seemed so foreign! Why, I asked myself, were thinner eyebrows more attractive than thick ones? Who made that call? And why do we all seem to agree? Where do the rules of beauty end?
In retrospect, these thoughts had nothing to do with what my brows actually looked like, but rather that I was finally embracing something natural about myself and questioning the norms I had always adhered to. This opened a gateway for me to confront all of the things I felt pressured to do in order to be attractive and to explore if I, as an individual, actually agreed with them.
My reactions to some conventions in question:
– Tan your skin: NO. I don’t mind being on the paler side! I’m half english and therefore naturally of a lighter complexion, and that’s okay with me. Who said being bronzed was better?
– Dye your hair: NO. Granted, I’m 20 and don’t yet have gray roots…but I actually like my natural hair color (go figure)! I like being a brunette, and I don’t know where I got the idea when I was younger that lighter hair is more attractive. Who says?
– Shave your armpits: YES. This one I don’t mind following. For whatever reason I feel better and more feminine when I have shaved armpits (and legs for that matter)…and that’s okay too.
– Shave your arms: NO. The hair on my arms doesn’t bother me the least bit!
– Paint your nails: YES. I love having color on my nails. I feel like it adds to my outfits, and is a further expression of my mood!
– Wear Makeup: YES/NO. Contouring my face? Hell-to-the-no. Personally, I have no desire to make the structure of my face look different. However, on the daily I do enjoy putting on some makeup: a sunscreen/bb cream combo, mascara and some gloss. For occasions, going a bit further is always fun! Overall though, the most important thing is making the choices that make you feel best, rather than following the herd.
Confronting these conventions was something that took getting really honest with myself…even more so because I consider myself a “feminine” girl (I like makeup, fashion, getting my hair done, etc.). But what I discovered through all of this is that there is no such thing as one type of beauty, or one way to achieve it: Conventions only exist because we continue to follow them, but we don’t have to. So for me, nowadays I make beauty decisions based on what inspires me and what makes me feel my best, rather than what I think I should be doing. There’s something so liberating about embracing your natural beauty and original choices, and it’s something I wish every woman gets the chance to discover and experience for herself!