Thursday, April 24

Journal Day #9 - On Beauty

How would you say your upbringing or background has shaped your idea of beauty? Were you taught to apply makeup or do you hair by your mother or friends? If not, where did you observe what is now your norm as far as beauty practices? And although most of us have been inundated by different cultural beauty "norms" via the media, would you say that television and magazines have had a strong impact on shaping what you think of as beautiful? This week, write about your idea of beauty- how your background has shaped it and what that means for you today. From Sometimes Sweet

Through Grade 1 to Grade 12 I was homeschooled, so I did not get the type of pressure to have my make-up applied a certain way, dress a certain way, or have my hair done a certain way. I have heard so many stories of students feeling pressured to change certain things about themselves in order to be accepted or loved by others. Even my own brother suddenly cared the way he started to dress when he went to public school, only wearing those certain brands that were approved by others. Not that dressing up, wearing make-up or doing your hair is or should be a negative thing at all. I am just saying that I am thankful that I did not have to experience that form of pressure from my classmates. Not for a few years. With that being said, I also did not have the experience of learning from other girls my age what make-up styles work for me etc or I didn't have the chance to "figure myself out" in those ways either. I still blame the fact that I don't know how to properly french braid my hair because I was homeschooled. ha!

I grew up learning and hearing constantly that I was beautiful and that I didn't need beauty products or designer clothes. I didn't even care, honestly, not yet at least. I was comfortable in my own skin for so many years that living in sweats with my hair up in a pony tale was my preferred style. Since I was at home the majority of my time, I didn't understand the need to change. The only thing that I had to have was my Lip Smackers collection, Root Beer & Dr. Pepper being my absolute favourite. Or any chap-stick that made my lips glitter.

Around Grade 8 or 9, my good childhood friend started to really get into playing with hair and make-up, and I would be her "guinea pig" for many, many hours. I loved getting all dolled up and her visits soon became a favourite of mine. She would give me a smokey eye, pluck my eyebrows, throw lipstick on my lips, and then we would create beautiful dresses out of blankets that I owned. We would have fashion shows in my living room. I believe that was the turning point for me in regards to my thinking of beauty. When I would strip down to my underwear and fashion clothes out of any piece of material I could find, it was hard not to notice the difference in my body vs. my friends. I needed bigger pieces of material than they did and that was a confusing, frustrating experience for me. I had yet to learn about how each body is structured differently and that not everybody could be a 00.

Thus began my need to be like so & so. I started to read fashion magazines and yearn for the bodies that I did not have. I started to play with my own hair, wished for better clothes, and wanted to buy the make-up I would see in the magazine advertisement. I wanted to do anything to feel better about myself. I had beautiful days and I had ugly days. My happiness went up and it went down. This ever growing desire to figure out where I belonged and how I was supposed to dress would continue for years.

2007 was a turning point for me. I finally had enough of trying to figure out how to become the same as my friends. Once I was able to just let that go, I was able to start actually figuring out myself better than ever before. I even got asked out for the very first time by my now Husband, and that event was definitely ego boosting. I was worth something. I was beautiful. At least somebody other than my parents (who always told me I was beautiful - thanks Mom & Dad) thought so. That was enough for me. And even though I still continued to play with make-up and hair, it was playing, not a need, it was a happy thing for me, not a necessity.

There are and will always be days that I still feel ugly. I think in this world its hard to not have a day like that. I do realize that the voice in my head, that tells me I am not perfect, gets quieter every day. And overall I do feel pretty. I love experimenting with make-up and hair styles. My childhood friend is still someone I look up to when it comes to "dolling" myself up. And I am learning day by day to love my own skin. There are days I put on make-up when I know I am not even going to be leaving the house and there are days that I leave the house with nothing on my face. Its a new comfortable way of living. I love it.

And now since I am a new mommy I do have "issues" with my postpartum body. I know my body went through an amazing transformation, but there are days that I look in the mirror and cringe. Always a learning process, to be happy no matter what the change. And since I now have a daughter I have been trying to be more aware of the words that come out of my mouth and of the words that I think towards myself. I don't want to pass on my negative days, emotions and thoughts to her. We are all different and we are all beautiful. I want her to grow up knowing that she IS beautiful. That she can wear make-up if she wants, but I hope that she learns to be comfortable in her own naked skin as well. That she loves the way she moves, smiles, loves her wrinkles, loves herself. That she doesn't need others to tell her how she should look or get someone else's love before she thinks she is beautiful. I don't want her growing up knowing the word "dieting" or that a scale number is what defines her. I know all of this is a little ways into the future, but these are some of the thinks I think about as a mother. I think its good to be aware of all the stuff that she will have to go through. To think about, but not to stress about.

Make-up, clothes, hair-styles, these can all be a fun way to dress up and share personality, but in the end, to me, its all about how we stand. How we treat ourselves. How we treat others. Fashion & style should be just an add on, the cherry on top, not the main meal or the desire of our hearts. It should be something for fun. My idea of beauty is the ongoing learning experience of how to appreciate who I am and how I am different than everyone else I know. To love myself naked & to know that I am wonderfully made. To be me and to love being me.

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