Beauty is so a hot topic in our world. It gives meaning to some, while strips others of theirs. It’s loaded with controversy and opinions. One thing we seem to agree on is that we should all feel beautiful. What does that mean? It changes for each individual I suppose. Today, while sitting in a cafe drinking the foam off my cappuccino, I was watching people walk by and thinking, “I wonder if she thinks she’s beautiful. I wonder if she feels beautiful.” Some women were very average and plain in dress, some you could tell had given careful attention to their appearance. And what about myself? What did my appearance say about me? What do I think about myself?
When I first moved to Slovenia I was still very much in California mode. I took about 2 hours to get ready for the day. That was choosing what to wear and doing my hair and makeup. At first, Luka and I lived 1 hour from his work which meant that he needed to leave around 6am. Waking up at 4am was not an option. I tried it a few times and it was real clear that was never going to be a long term solution. Instead I got faster and faster at getting ready. Then I started taking shortcuts, doing my makeup in the car or going with a fast braid instead of curling my hair. However, I had a powerful motive for always making myself look beautiful and that was extreme self-consciousness. It wasn’t exactly that I didn’t feel beautiful. I knew that when I did my hair and makeup I was, what most consider, a beautiful woman. However, take away my makeup and you took away my beauty. That’s how I felt. I was even embarrassed to be in front of Luka without any makeup on in the beginning of our marriage. I would wait until the very end of the night to wash my face and then quickly hurry to bed. All my feeling of self love and my own belief of my beauty was invariably tied to my cosmetics.
Then a miracle happened. After doing A LOT of personal development and working on myself and inner searchings, I started to make changes in my beliefs. Beliefs are very, very hard to change. Especially when they have been a part of you for whole life. However, I knew I wanted to change. I knew that I wanted to be able to walk out in public without any makeup on and not feel shame and disgust with myself. Thankfully, Slovenia is a country where many, if not most, women easily and happily go out regularly without makeup. Many women I know don’t even own a curling iron or know how to use one. Being in that environment was a much friendlier way to transition than if I had been in Southern California.
Little by little, I got braver and braver. It took a few years, but eventually I could indeed go do normal daily activities, like going to the store, without makeup and my hair in a ponytail and not think twice about it. I think motherhood definitely helped it set in too. At one point I just got too tired to care and breastfeeding my baby so she wouldn’t cry was more important. It was really an accomplishment to get to that point. It was such an achievement for me. I didn’t necessarily feel beautiful and glamorous, but the fear and the self-loathe were gone. I had accepted myself.
Interestingly, it was almost like a slope on which I began to slide down the other way. I got lazy and stopped caring altogether. When Luka and I got married I often said, “I will never let myself go. Even when kids come and go, I will always make myself look nice for you and for myself. Just because we’re not dating anymore doesn’t mean I won’t care.” That was still true, but I had become a little too carefree or I had just embraced my new natural look too often. Not because of what others thought of me, but because of how I felt about myself. I rarely took the time to make myself look extra pretty so I rarely felt extra pretty. After months and months of that I started to feel like I was never pretty. I remember getting all done up for some event and when I went into a store I was shocked and embarrassed when a man checked me out. I set myself a 90-day challenge to wake up and do something that made me feel pretty about myself. After a few days, I realized that I hardly had any makeup to work with anymore. I got some cheap makeup at the store that didn’t help the situation.
Now back to today. Even though people tell me I’m a beautiful pregnant women, I realize that I don’t at all feel beautiful. For whatever reason, I feel that as soon as I’m pregnant I am no longer beautiful, how could I be? It makes no sense, but these feelings and beliefs never do. I look back at my pregnancy with Olivia and it’s obvious to me that I didn’t try to be beautiful. Sometimes I dressed nice for events and such, but for the most part I was a bit boring and kind of frumpy. I just didn’t try. I thought, “Oh I’m cute” or “Oh, I’m a sweet-looking pregnant chick” but I never believed I was or could even be beautiful. When I sat there in that cafe and watched other women go by it struck me that even if she is beautiful, she may not feel beautiful and the only person who can really change that is her. Maybe if I go and tell her that I think she’s beautiful it can help to break the spell. I guess I should start with me. After all, what better place to start. I should do what makes me feel beautiful. I’ve learned my lessons and now I need to learn them again. I’m as valuable and beautiful with makeup as I am without it. Now I want to embrace and enjoy what makes me feel beautiful and happy. I invested in some quality makeup and have been loving that. I try to dress up my bump in a way that would be pretty even if I wasn’t preggo. I try to find new ways to manage my long hair that seems to always get caught in a toddler’s hands and my winter coat in an attractive way. It’s going well. I like doing these things, I just have to make the effort. The important thing is that I know it’s okay to be without them and it’s also okay that they make me happy. Let’s do what makes us feel beautiful. And let’s spread that love. Why not tell someone they are beautiful today?