I wore make-up every day as a teenager, everywhere I went - a lot of make-up. In hindsight, I wish I had skipped the big southern bangs and mauve lip liner, and embraced what I now know was a sun-kissed, wrinkle-free, dewy, fresh face that I'll never see again. Sorry, no picture to prove it. Remember?
I was terrified of going to boot camp; being yelled at and judged eighteen hours a day without my Clinique force field was more concerning to me than the academic or physical challenges I'd face. By the second week of basic training I had learned the schedule, and set my little wrist watch alarm to wake me up three minutes before reveille, so that I could style and gel my new pixie haircut and pinch my cheeks before we ran into the men's berthing area for muster. It wasn't about impressing the guys, it was about confidence. I felt like I didn't have a voice if I didn't look as pretty as I could given what I was working with.
When I graduated and started working on the boat, I had a little more freedom. I'd wear mascara and lip gloss for work, even out at sea. It didn't make sense to put anything else on, because the sweat and salt water would just wash it off anyway. I wasn't insecure about it anymore. Of course, living in Hawaii with sun, salt water and twenty year old skin helped. More importantly though, I started to realize that what I did meant more than what my face looked like. What my face looked like didn't really matter at all, whether I was having an 'ugly day' or a 'pretty day'. In fact, what my face looked like drew unwanted attention at times on a military base.
When I went back into the civilian world at twenty-two, I went back to wearing make-up every day - a lot of it. After Hawaii we moved back to Texas for a few months, and going anywhere without a full face felt risky. I could run into an old High School classmate, after all. I felt insecure again. I felt like what I had accomplished in the Coast Guard didn't matter anymore. I was just another girl, trying to look cute, while figuring out what she's supposed to do with her life. It took a few more years of growing up before I realized what I wish I had known at eighteen. Not long ago I saw the light. If I had to run errands, a hat and a bra would suffice. Actually, a bra was negotiable if I had a coat on. Have you heard this quote:
“Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.” -Oscar Wilde
That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It's not that I don't make an effort when we go out. I feel pretty when I wear a new dress, and I feel like the best version of my physical self when I have make-up on. If someone is going to take a picture, I need to have make-up on and something flattering covering my lady lumps. I am thirty-two for crying out loud. I think this year all of the physical traits I've always been most insecure about have become more pronounced. Such is life. But, the other day the Sailor and I dropped off the kids at my parents house, planning to return home for movies in bed. I had on an old sweatshirt, jeans, not a stick of make-up, and unwashed hair. I looked relatively human, but if I turned any heads it would be for the wrong reason, ya know? We decided to go out to dinner, after a lot of convincing from him and protesting from me. We walked into a popular bar/restaurant on Main St. and I held my dirty haired, blotchy faced head high. It was one of the more liberating moments in my adult life, as silly as that may sound. It wasn't about what other people thought of me, it was the fact that I didn't care. This is what I look like, whether you like it or not. The best parts of me, the ones that make me worth knowing, are under the surface. The qualities I possess that make me a good mother, and a good wife, and a good human have nothing to do with false eye-lashes and coordinated accessories. Life got better when I realized this. If I can teach my daughters this before they're thirty-two, I've done my job.
Jessica @ MBB
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