I saw that on a sign in a store I was visiting for the first time, a craft store.
I thought about buying the little sign to put near my bathroom mirror, but decided it was too expensive. Instead, I decided to write about it.
Growing up with a house full of sisters, I witnessed a lot of primping in the name of beauty. Even though we were all taught about ‘beauty on the inside’ – every unwanted task ‘built character,’ according to Mother – I think, like most girls, we all strove for outward beauty, too, to some point. As the youngest, I wanted to emulate my older sisters, but I never liked dresses or pantyhose, and I was no good at the hair and makeup routine. In spite of my sister Missy’s best efforts, I was still a tomboy at heart and was most comfortable bare-faced, wearing jeans and a ponytail. Missy would fix my hair and do my makeup for special occasions, but if left to my own devices, I would scrub it all off and tie my hair back.
Besides — Mother didn’t have pierced ears, and she didn’t wear makeup save for a touch of lipstick on special occasions. Was my mother beautiful? Oh, yes. She had lovely skin, thick, wavy hair, and shapely legs. She had a twinkle in her blue eyes and a warm smile accented with her trademark gap.
My sisters eschewed elaborate makeup and lengthy hair rituals. It was just not important to them (or to me). My sisters who did use makeup and did spend time with curlers and Aqua-Net looked lovely but never overly ‘done.’ Less is more, Mother would say. And it didn’t matter what else you wore, as long as you were wearing a smile. My sisters all wore lovely smiles, with clear eyes and kind words. My sisters are all beautiful, makeup or no.
I think that helped me feel confident in my choices. I could throw on some blusher and lip gloss when I had to, but I wasn’t about to get up at 5 a.m. and spend the next two hours putting on my face and wielding a curling iron.
In the awkward years of adolescence, I tried to find myself in the magazines and department stores. I borrowed my sister’s clothes to try to look more stylish and more like her. I tried to talk my mom into buying me a pair of Sperry Topsiders, the loafers I saw in Seventeen magazine. I was convinced that if I had those, I could surely pull off that Phoebe Cates back-to-school look. No go. At various times I tried to update my look to the Farrah Fawcett feathered ‘do, the poodle perm and the Dorothy Hamill wedge cut. Um, no. None of them worked for me. I figured I was doomed to be utterly plain and style-free.
In my twenties, with a little more confidence, I dressed up a little more and wore makeup more often, under my sister’s tutelage, of course. Mostly it was because Missy wouldn’t go out with me unless I did. It was a fun time, and I always marveled at how she could look so put together, even in a pair of jeans. It never rubbed off on me, though – she was Missy, and I was not. I couldn’t borrow someone else’s look. I had to find my own.
Let’s be clear – I don’t consider myself beautiful. As far as looks go, I think I’m pretty solidly in the middle between ‘Eek!’ and ‘Wowza!’ I never had much of a figure; I’m built more like a tree trunk than an hourglass. I’m content to hide my legs and cankles under jeans most of the time. My butt is flat, which led me to live in nothing but Levi’s 501 jeans for a while. They fit me better than girls’ jeans ever did. I don’t have an eye for fashion, so I stick with what I know, which is jeans and sweatshirts. As Mother would say, “All my taste is in my mouth.”
My best feature is probably my eyes, but they’ve been behind glasses since I was 7. (Of course, that is what all fat chicks get complimented on, anyway.) I like my hair, too. It has always been thick and full (less so now as I age), but it does have a mind of its own. A wave here, a cowlick there, and it was just too stubborn to do what I wanted it to. So short hair or ponytails have been my go-to styles.
I have rarely worn makeup. I rationalized that if you didn’t like my face the way God made it, you didn’t have to look at me. (I still feel that way.) I married a man who has never been crazy about makeup on women. ‘What are they trying to hide?’ he says. He says makeup is best when you can’t see it. So if I don’t wear it, he can’t see it – perfect, eh? And he still thinks I’m beautiful. Confession: I recently replaced the 20-something year old makeup in my bag with a few new, fresh items. I don’t need much, but a touch of lip tint is nice.
So – honestly – I love the BeYouTiful sentiment.
I came to terms with my face a long time ago. (Still working on the body part.) I am no beauty queen, but I am me, and I can still be a strong, beautiful me. I want to smile with confidence, hold my head up, and look the world in the eye. I want to wear bold colors and stand up straight instead of shrinking back and trying to hide. I want to stop holding back and hesitating. I want to speak my mind. I want to love my life and who I am and where I’m going.
And I want you to do the same. BeYOUTiful.
photo credit: GabrielaP93