I do not remember the last time someone called me beautiful. Looking in the mirror, I see none of the beauty that grants my peers. I have neither alabaster skin nor silky hair, nor stunning eyes or perfect lips. I have zits, and I make no efforts to hide them. My nose is reddened by years of slightly too little sunscreen. My eyes are rimmed with purple glasses. How can I possibly compare?
I don't wear make-up. Why would I wake up an hour earlier just to beautify myself? The money and time I save on not being concerned with my appearance is more valuable to me than mascara, lip gloss, blush and foundation combined. In several years, I'd rather be concerned about my character freshman year than if I hid my zits with enough concealer every day. I have no qualms about wearing makeup for yourself, but when you wear it to garner others' approval, it becomes a problem. Especially today, beauty comes at a cost. In our society, we've been taught that we only have value if we act a certain way, look a certain way. How many teen and preteen girls spend hundreds of dollars on makeup just to fit in?
A few weeks ago, I went to Sephora with my mom. Its lustrous products and ideals of glamour had always entranced me; as a young girl, why wouldn't they? When my mom finished buying her beauty products, she asked the cashier, "Do you have to wear makeup?" She, looking surprised, replied, "Well, not technically, but if we don't, it's a big no-no." She was a pretty woman, striking enough. She stated having to wear makeup as a simple fact that she didn't particularly like but had grown accustomed to. As I walked out of the mall, the event stayed with me. As a young woman, to be resigned to wearing makeup just to have a certain job is too much of a sacrifice.
Of course, makeup isn't the only beauty ritual girls go through; their hair matters disproportionately as well. My hair, naturally, is a mess. I inherited a mass of thick, wavy, curly hair from my mother. It rarely stays still, and picture day is awful, every single year. Whether it's a weave, straightening their hair, dying it, or curling it, most girls my age don't keep their hair natural. Sometimes I'm envious of the girls whose hair always looks like they're in a Pantene commercial. Do I really want to spend the time on using a hair-straightener just so I can look the same as everyone else? Sometimes my mane may look disheveled, but if I really care about the way my hair looks, I think I should change my priorities. In time, my views may change, but for now, they're constant.
I only shave about once a week. By the end of the week, stubble starts to creep up. Two weeks ago, I was sitting in gym. One of my classmates looked down at her legs, and said, "I've got to shave!" It had only been two or three days since she last used her razor, but in her mind, this was crucial. Obviously, we are nothing if there's a slight shadow of hair on our legs. Aren't we supposed to be mindless beauty objects, after all? Sometimes, I too look down at my legs with a pang. Oh, I'd better shave. Then I catch myself. It's been drilled into our heads that we can't have any body hair whatsoever, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. If someone judges me on the amount of leg hair that I have, that's their problem.
We've been taught that beauty is manufactured. It comes with attaining certain things: the perfect look, the perfect style, the perfect body. In reality, it doesn't matter how ugly and unshaven my legs are. It doesn't affect my athletic ability, my intelligence, or writing abilities. Whatever messages the media sends, not wearing makeup, or doesn't make me some hag who's destined to live alone and kidnap children. I'm often stricken with self-doubts, just as every other teenage girl is. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wish that I cared enough to conform to unspoken peer-pressure to look good. But I'm different, and false beauty is not my priority. No matter how others may see me, I refuse to strive for perfection at a cost to myself.