October 3, 2011

"I just need to learn to like my face."

A few nights ago, I pressed up my face against the mirror scanning my face and taking mental notes of its imperfections.  No good ever comes from a close up inspection of one's face, which is why I refuse to buy a magnifying mirror despite my mom's continual insistence that I place one on the back of my bathroom cupboard.

Grumbling as I examined my skin, I had a flash back of a conversation from the month before.

I was sitting on a lounge chair overlooking the lake next to my nineteen year old cousin.  She was about to enter her sophomore year of college.  We talked classes, study abroad options, friends, and, then of course, boys.

"I don't know," she began, "I have a lot of guys who are my friends, but I never believe that any of them really like me, even when they say they do."

She continued " . .  . and everyone gets really dressed up when they go out, and so I've started wearing more makeup, but I've started to realize that regardless of whether I wear makeup or not, I just need to learn to like my face."

I laughed at the comment, but then paused as the wisdom soaked in.  "I just need to learn how to like my face."

How often do I look in the mirror and say, "Why hello there, Kerry, I like your face."

Women spend a lot of time and energy trying to like our face more.  But we think that before we can like it, we must improve it by wearing makeup, getting botox, buying expensive creams, or using a scalpel to reconcoct our features.  None of these fixes are ever enough though; it's only a matter of time before we find something else that we think we need to change.

The irony is it's all in vain. (Pun attended). It doesn't really matter.  No badly how much we want to, we never, really, look that different. We always just look like us.  Regardless of whether my friend dresses up for dinner and has on foundation or shows up with greasy hair piled on head and no makeup, she still looks like her.  We can't hide from the our most identifying physical trait.

If we always look pretty much the same, why don't we spend the energy trying to learn to like our face as opposed to trying to change it?

Sometimes I get so fed up by the pressures of beauty that I feel like I'm "sticking it to society" when I wear nothing on my face.  Though my sun spots are exposed and my smile lines extend from my eyes to my ears and my skin is pale with a touch of blotchy, it feels freeing to walk in the world in my most natural state. There's a Zen quote that says, "true freedom is being without anxiety about imperfection."

I'm not saying that products or makeup can't help us to feel beautiful, but I am saying that at the end of the day, I just need to learn how to like my face.

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