I remember some parts of Jr High very clearly. I spent a lot of time with those silly magazines aimed at tween and teen girls. You know the ones. They had posters of long haired boys with dreamy eyes. They had quizzes that define who you are and what you will be. And they had those lovely beauty tips.
Here’s the struggle I remember. There was this huge fad– to look as natural as possible, but with make-up. That seemed to be the aim of every product. To get natural looking shiny lips, you should use this lip gloss. To get natural looking smooth skin you will need this foundation. To get natural looking long, dark eyelashes, you should use this mascara. And here’s the thing– this seems to be a timeless trend in beauty.
I know it wasn’t new in the 90s and it is still popular now. What is up with this desire to USE products in order to look as though we DON’T use products?!
Now, I get it.
I get wanting to look presentable without looking like a clown.
Personally, I have this thing with the dark circles under my eyes. I don’t usually leave the house (or even the bathroom) without some concealer.
My beef is that we are presenting all of these images of “natural beauty” that are anything but natural! These ladies were in hair and makeup for at least a couple of hours. The lighting was just so. The camera angle was just right. And if the final shot wasn’t quite flawless enough, there is always Photoshop.
Let’s be a bit more intentional, ladies. Let’s look closer to home for our images of beauty. Let’s tell our daughters (and sons!) that they are beautiful because of their passion, their drive, their empathy. Not because of their glossy lips and smooth complexion.
This becomes especially difficult when your little one has spent the last 30 minutes locked in the bathroom trying to get her hair just right. Or has turned the dress-up bin upside down looking for the “prettiest” princess dress. She has put in all this effort, all this time and energy, when she triumphantly flings open the door, struts towards you, and says, “Ta da! What do you think?!”
Quick! What do you say?!
“Ohhhhhh, you look so BEAUTIFUL!!!”
That’s what I thought.
If you are going to stick with this reaction, you now have an extra responsibility. She needs to know beauty is not tied up in her hair-do or her princess dress. You need to praise her beauty when she rolls right out of bed. After she has been crying. When you are tucking her in. When she has been splashing around in a muddy puddle. When she gives her little sister the last bite of brownie. When she studies all week for a big test on Friday.
Or, you can re-evaluate your reaction. You can praise her creativity in hairstyle choice. Or her independence in picking out her own shoes and dress. Her dedication in making sure everything was how she wanted it. You can ask her if she feels proud, comfortable, happy. You can comment on how colorful and original her outfit is.
The point is to not equate the “stuff” with beauty. Beauty is not the hairstyle and its not the dress. Its not the lip gloss or the concealer. Those things can certainly make us feel prettier, more confident, more comfortable. But when they are washed off, our beauty remains.
It’s that simple.