Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Positivitea Cup Thirteen: Facing Beauty Standard Fears


For years, I've gone back and forth about a few (of the seemingly endless) beauty standards. I haven't always taken stances against beauty standards. I tended to comply and bend to form around them in my teen years, even up until I was about a sophomore or so in college. I idolized and admired long, blonde hair with flawless, makeup enhanced skin and the smaller the better. I was (and still am, for other reason) obsessed with magazines, with advertorials, editorials, style sections, celebrity photos. I loved (and again, still do) fashion and models and all of the glitz and glam that the industry seems from the outside looking in. With my "glamorous" interest came intense comparisons and a lot of self-scrutinization.

My hair become my security blanket. Makeup became a no-brainer–I can't leave the house without it. Numbers and letters on tags consumed me.

It all started with a haircut. I chopped my hair off right before Christmas my sophomore year of college. Taylor Swift's 1989 came out in October of that year and I listened to it religiously for two months straight. I made my appointment shortly after the album came out, completely ready for a new look. My hair has accidentally grown back a couple of times since, but I cut it every chance I get. Hell, I cut it again yesterday because having it graze the top of my boobs was too long for me. Too long. I used to claim my hair was short when it wasn't mermaid length.

I'm grateful that short hair and "lobs" are still very much a thing, but even if they weren't, who cares? Hair styles, lengths, colors...none of them matter. If you like it, then you like it. If you're comfortable with hair grazing your ankles or hair barely grazing the top of your ears, who cares?

I think my understanding and acceptance with clothing sizing really didn't happen until I started working in retail. That's when you truly realize that sizing means nothing. Things run small, things run large. Different designers and brands have entirely different methods of measuring. Some abide by vanity sizing, others do not. There is no universal sizing method and therefore, I've declared that sizing means nothing. My closet ranges from smalls to extra larges, from size four to size twelve. I have size eight jeans that squeeze my legs and hips and size eight jeans from the same store in the same style that fall off of my body without a belt. This one is a tough one to overcome, but I tell every woman who comes into the stores that I work in to disregard the size tag. If it looks like it fits, try it on. Ignore that number. Ignore that singular (or even those double or triple) capital letter(s). Focus on the garment and how you look and feel in the garment. That is all that matters.

Makeup is something I'm still struggling with. My insecurities without makeup are always and have always been linked to my acne. While I prefer myself with makeup, I could tolerate going without if I didn't have red blotches on my face. Even acne scarring I could deal with, but fresh, bright red spots dotted across my skin? No thank you. However, I went all day yesterday without it. I went to lunch with my parents. I drove back to school. I walked into my apartment building all without an ounce of makeup. It's a small step, but it's a step nonetheless.

Everything that you do has to be based on comfort, but there's nothing wrong with pushing yourself a little. If I was really, truly and honestly bothered and affected by my choice to not wear makeup, I wouldn't put myself through it. Maybe I'd start slow. No mascara. No eyeliner. No contour. Whatever it may be. Just toy with the idea, if that's something you want to do. There's nothing forcing you besides your own sheer will. You are free to make whatever decisions, but make sure they're right for you. You don't have to be afraid of that haircut, of the size of your jeans, of stepping foot outside of the confines of your home without concealer on. But that doesn't mean you can't have long hair, want to make a change in your life (as long as you're being healthy and are doing it in a safe and regulated manner), or wearing a full face of makeup to the grocery store.

These are just things that I've learned in life:

1. It's just hair. It grows back

2. Numbers and letters on clothing tags mean nothing. There's no regulated sizing. If it looks like it fits, try it. Rip out the tags if you want to.

3. Whether you wear or don't wear makeup doesn't determine anything about your character. Do what you please

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