What’s Your Definition of Beauty? [Finding the balance in caring too much and too little]
Posted Oct 25 2011 1:01am
I find beauty in strength: T his is an outtake from pics for another post (coming soon!) and while nothing is right about my pose – my son snapped the pic too soon – everything is right about my shoulder and arm! Good golly I worked hard for those delts and biceps! They are beautiful to me because they remind me of how hard I can work, how well I can tolerate pain and how high I can lift my kids and swing them around.
The scene: Costco, 10 a.m. on a Thursday.
The girl: Tall, tanned, uber-thin with long, straight, shiny hair. She was so put together with a perfect outfit with adorable sky-high heels and coordinating jewelry. And she had that impeccable makeup where she did a “smoky eye” that looked artistic rather than dirty (which is how it looks when I attempt it). False eyelashes and red lipstick completed the look. She was absolutely stunning and I felt a little like a creeper because I couldn’t stop staring at her. She could have been a model but guessing from the baby in her cart and the jumbo packages of diapers and Annie’s crackers, she was a mom just like me.
The reaction: Total ambivalence. On one hand, I desperately wanted to be her. She was utterly flawless. But on the other hand – false eyelashes and stilettos? For Costco? (Although hey, what do I know? Maybe she just finished a casting call and stopped by the store on the way home? Maybe she’s married to a pro baller?) As I stood behind her in line, tugging at my sweat-soaked ponytail and smelly gym clothes – I always end up running errands after the gym when I look like I just finished Jell-O wrestling – it occurred to me that this example pretty much sums up my feelings about physical beauty in general: I want to have it but I don’t want to be expected to have it and I certainly don’t want it to be the only kind of beauty I have.
I’m not the only one who’s confused. I would argue that society as a whole is caught up in this bipolar attraction to and vilification of outer beauty. Oscar Wilde explained it perfectly with this pithy adage: “It’s better to be beautiful than to be good, but it’s better to be good than to be ugly.” This is even more entertaining when you consider Wilde lived in an age before boob jobs, botox and bronzer (also known as the Kardashian triple threat). Apparently we have always been thus.
All of which is not to say that caring about how you look is bad. I certainly do. I think it’s about finding the balance between caring too little and caring too much. It’s about knowing how to highlight the truly beautiful parts of you rather than trying to create a new being out of whole cloth (or plastic, as the case may be). It’s about finding a way to show your true beauty through your soul and not worrying as much about the pretty package it’s tied up in. (And I can tell you for darn sure it’s not about losing 10 pounds – a HUGE thank you to everyone who commented yesterday , you guys amaze, uplift and inspire me!)
Honestly, I’m not sure how to do this. I’m not going to boycott mirrors for a year like one brave blogger (is that even humanly possible?). At the very least my squat form would go all to heck, and we already know I have a butt wink that’s as subtle as Cher on an aircraft carrier.
Enter bareMinerals The Force of Beauty campaign, which is all about emphasizing the ways beauty can go beyond appearance. Considering they are a makeup company, I found this really interesting as makeup is my personal battleground where all of these mixed feelings play out. In high school, I went goth and wore so much makeup I cried like Boy George, which was often because I was very angsty. Then I went grunge (yay, 90′s!) and I went for a couple of years without regularly wearing anything beyond Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers. New motherhood had me entirely barefaced most days as even basic hygiene was a luxury. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized there is a reason that lipstick exists, and it’s because your lips naturally turn the color of the surrounding skin. It’s very unnerving to glance in a mirror and think where did my lips go?! So now, most days, I am pro makeup. (Although as I type this I’m not wearing a darn thing, ironically.)
My essentials are eyeliner on top, mascara and lip gloss. If it’s Sunday or I’m going somewhere fancy (like the PTO meeting, my life is super exciting) then I’ll add some foundation and blush. The one thing I’ve never been able to master? Eyeshadow. I have very small, very deep-set eyes, so most eyeshadows don’t do me any favors.
So when bareMinerals® sent me some bareMinerals READY™ Eyeshadow 2.0 to try out as part of their campaign, my first instinct was to try to get out of it. I’d originally signed up to review their foundation, which I love – it’s light, and it never irritates my sensitive skin – but at the last minute the promo changed to my arch nemesis: eyeshadow. So I enlisted my friend Adrianne, the eye-makeup queen, to help me out. She always looks so fun and fashion-forward; I hoped she could work her magic on me and my “Hilton squint.” Hijinx ensued, naturally.
We started by reading the Very Big Book that came with the very tiny compact. Oh yes, we’re ready!
And so is Adrianne’s kitty! He loved the Very Big Book…to sleep on.
The bareMinerals READY™ Eyeshadow 2.0 (That’s hello spelled backward and upside down on the mirror.) Adrianne’s first comment? “You have very crepe-y eyelids.” Fab, I’ll add that to my disappearing lips of Things I Dislike About Aging!
My “day look” courtesy of Adrianne. Nice! (Ducklips!)
Then we got silly. Emerald green? Yes, please!
My turn! You wouldn’t think that red and purple, the official colors of bruise, would be good but I think she pulls the eye-hematoma look off nicely. Took me 15 minutes to do her eyeliner, by the way, and I didn’t even stab her in the eye!
So in the end, I’m still really confused about make-up.
On one hand, I love love love dressing up! On the other hand, do we really live in a world where false eyelashes are necessary to buy diapers? Help me out – am I the only one with this ambivalence?
Tell me about how you define beauty and find the balance between caring too much and too little. Anyone else stymied by eye shadow? And for kicks bareMinerals® would like to send one of you a READY Eyeshadow 2.o!
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