It was Christmastime, my favorite hour of the year, and my friends, family and I had rented out the cellar of a trendy hotel in New Yorks Chelsea neighborhood for the holiday. Glittery decorates lit up the dim room, their shadows stretching across the wooden floor like real-life people, and stockings hung low overthe fireplace.
My belly was safely tucked away in my elastic waistband gasps. I was feeling ready to feast on Christmas dinner like a brute when their own families friend, a 30 -something widow, pulled me aside.
Sweetie, ” she said, What’s with your outfit? ”
What do you mean? I said, puzzled as ever.
How do you expect to get a human when youre wearing a cotton hoodie and sneakers? Youre so beautiful. Use that pretty face! Youll be single forever unless you clean up your act.
Use my pretty face? What the f* ck did that even mean ? I spent the next hour trying to pick my jaw off the floor.
My aunt isn’t the only one who’s deemed beauty paramount.
A coworker shared with me a tale about her formerly pregnant sister. Apparently, when her water transgressed, she didnt make a beeline for the nearest hospital; instead, she spent an hour standing in front of the mirror, tirelessly blow-drying her hair and putting on makeup.
I need to look good for photos! she said, when asked why she was even a dollop’s worth concerned with her appearance.
Looking our best on the outside doesnt always build us happy on the inside, but we strive for an unattainable ideal, regardless.
Were not at fault here. Our constant desire to look like goddesses, even when were tired as f* ck and running on empty, is part of a bigger dialogue — a conversation that begins and ends with other people’s demands, projections and expectations.
Women live in a society that tells them they should always seem their best — and if we dont, in the words of their own families friend, are reportedly doing a disservice to ourselves.
But the thing is, there’s no win. When society is tired of scolding you for not trying hard enough, it’ll chastise you for trying too hard. Were damned if we seem good and damned if we dont.
Time and time again, my makeup-less face has tolerated questions like Are you sick? and Rough night? As a result, I’ve been led to believe my fresh face and unostentatiously clothed body arent good enough to leave the house.
Im going to say this loud and clear so your mom, and your moms mom, and your mom’s mom’s mom in faraway lands can hear me: Catering TO MY BEAUTY ISNT MY FIRST PRIORITY.
I am a human who lives and breathes , not some sort of object meant to be ogled at. I run, and I work out. I dont style my hair on a Monday morning because Id rather it be out of my face so I can concentrate on my computer screen. I dont wear yoga gasps at the gym because Im preparing to sweat my ass off , not because Im trying to emulate Scarlett Johansson at the Oscars.
I, just like you, need to relax and repose in order to fully enjoy the scope of living. My main purpose in life is to be comfortable in my own skin.
And if Im not, well, then there would scarcely be any point in living.
I have accepted that I simply wont look perfect( whatever the hell perfect means) all the time, and though weve been conditioned to feeling as if thats something to be ashamed of, Im not ashamed of it.
In fact, Im willing to admit it. Here are all the times when I simply dont feeling beautiful.
When Im at the gym.
Nestled in my three-sizes-too-big mans sweatshirt and drawstring gasps, I pale in comparison to the flawless figure-eights in their skintight spandex.
When Im in a dressing room.
Skinny mirror or not, Im standing there analyzing and overanalyzing every crevasse and every patch of cellulite on my body.
When Im standing next to a model.
I live in New York City, the land of infinite beauty. On some days, I feel fantastic — that is, until I turn a corner and run into a Gisele lookalike wearing Dior sunglasses and Prada loafers.
When Im wearing my glasses.
They build me feel like the turtle dude from The Master Of Disguise, but I need them to insure, dammit.
When I wake up.
No woman wakes up Beyonc-flawless — and if she does, shes a f* cking unicorn. Or shes Beyonc.
When Im sobbing my ugly Kim Kardashian sob.
Look, I dont know about you, but after a good ol fashioned love-making conference with myself, I break out into waterworks.
When I come home from work.
And my day-old makeup is so blotchy that the left side of my face is cappuccino-colored, while the right side is more vanilla mocha( yes, I’m speaking in Starbucks-tongue ).
But I guess thats only the way the cookie — er, foundation — crumbles.
After feeing a big meal.
Paris Hilton may feel sexy feeing a burger, but I dont.
Oh, and you dont want to be there for my post-meal spiral of remorse and shame.
When I get rejected.
Whether Im fresh out of a breakup or getting shut down by a guy mid-flirt on Tinder, I sure as hell am feeling anything but beautiful.
When Im on my period.
If its that time of the month, that means my hair is thrown in a( non-chic) messy bun, and Im wearing my stretchy fat-pants.
When Im not doing something for myself.
It’s inevitable that I will be bashed and castigated for not appealing to my beauty. But I dont douse my body in fragrance or powder my face in consideration of others; I do it when I have hour and energy for myself .
There are days I wish I had the kind of peachy-white scalp and glossy blonde hair that society tells me is beautiful. But there are also days when I choose to embrace the caramel colour and the frizzy dark hair I was born with, and dress it even further down with a baggy shirt and a gross hoodie.
And even though society doesnt think thats beautiful, Im ready to embrace that side of me, too.