I believe in natural beauty. Not just mountains and meadows, forests and beaches. I also believe in the natural beauty of humans, un-enhanced by chemicals, unaltered by cosmetic surgery. I believe I am beautiful (as is) and so, I also believe in the power of self-acceptance.
I’ve never been into make-up. As a girl, I watched my mother “put on her eyes” everyday – a Sophia Loren-like jet-black stripe on her upper eyelid, then Maybelline mascara for “longer lashes.” Face painting was fun as a kid, but eventually, the smell of cosmetics repulsed me and wearing make-up just made me feel like a clown. And even though my mother decorated her own face, she raised me to believe I had more important things to do than look at a mirror mirror on the wall.
Years ago, I worked with a woman who wore three hues of eye shadow up to her eyebrows, blush and lip liner and lipstick and who knows what else. She was a natural blond with big baby blue eyes and she looked like a perfectly painted porcelain doll – every day. One day she came to work and people said, “Colleen, are you feeling alright?” “Are you tired? You don’t look like yourself!” People thought she was ill because she wasn’t wearing any make-up. No one had ever really seen her face. After that, she consciously toned it down, so that her friends would know who she really was. I guess people got used to the real Colleen, but I’m sure some thought the old Colleen looked prettier.
I have a woman friend who has a moustache – not a hint, or a shadow, but a real caterpillar. Of course, people stare, do double-takes, whisper and try to figure out if she’s a man or a woman or something in-between. Licia is a goddess of self-acceptance who challenges us to do the same. Her facial hair is just part of who she is, so get used to it! And we are used to it, but still, it’s a process, even for the most loving and enlightened among us. Some friends think she should wax it off, so her kids won’t get teased at school. (“Your mama has a moustache!”) But I disagree: why should Licia have to change to make herself more acceptable to you, to make you more comfortable in her presence?
The journey to self- acceptance is a life-long struggle. It’s been decades since I declared my independence from cosmetics. But as I’m aging, it’s getting harder to stand my ground, as my upper lip darkens, my hair goes grayer, as wrinkles appear in places I wish they wouldn’t. I might look better, younger, “prettier” if I wore a little make-up. But, you know, life’s too short to be cooped up in the bathroom tweezing, painting, fixing, perfecting. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Plus, I have two daughters to raise, and there’s just not enough time in the day…
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