Yesterday I forgot my make-up. I was halfway to work when I realised that I hadn’t put a single thing on my face that morning but some very simple vitamin e cream to soothe my winter-running chapped cheeks. I felt naked. I felt exposed. I am not ashamed to admit that I even pulled into two separate service stations/ convenience stores on my way to work just to try and find some mascara.
Let me pause for a moment here to establish the baseline for this beauty-centric story.
I do not usually wear much make-up, in fact, my definition of my “work face” is just mascara and some translucent powder – see not much. I have gone days without brushing my hair, and the only regular beauty regime that I stick to is ensuring I wash my face every night and apply vitamin e cream. No fancy jars of things to plaster on my face; I don’t own concealer or blush or even foundation. My little sister still has to apply my eyeliner for me when I put on my “fancy face” (otherwise known as date face, wedding face, girl’s night out face…you get the picture).
So I was disturbed when I found myself sitting at my computer yesterday morning with a low level of panic racing in my chest because of the absence of my barely-noticeable beauty routine.
How had I become a woman who worries about having make-up on before she goes to work? Where did this deep-seated need to apply artificial colours to my face come from?
I don’t think that I can place all the blame on society. I gave up buying and subscribing to fashion magazines over a year ago. I threw out all the old issues that had lined my shelves and the cut-outs that had at one stage been my ‘thinspiration’ when I was trapped deep within the web of an unhealthy relationship with my body and food. But still, how can we deny the evidence that everyday woman (and men too) are bombarded with advertisements, magazines, ‘current affairs’ shows, and packaging that tells us if we only bought the product, followed the diet, paid money to someone to inject plastic or neurotoxins (looking at you Botox) into our faces/butts/who-knows-where, then we too could be beautiful and happy. Notice that the beautiful always comes before the happy.
Why on earth should beautiful come before happy? Beautiful people are not always happy; in fact, some of the most beautiful people on earth are the most miserable in their hearts. Happy people however, are nearly always beautiful. Why should we not work on happiness, inner beauty, the worth of our soul and connection to other people before we start worrying about how the veneer looks? Buildings are not constructed facade first. Foundations are laid. Deep pools of cement reinforced with steel are poured into the earth, strong struts of steel and stone and wood climb high into the sky laced with crossbeams and girders that share the weight and the pressure.
We should build ourselves in this way. This is the true beauty secret: thoroughly nourished beauty. Pour your soul deep into the loving earth. Connect with the very heart of yourself. Be strong in the love you have for your own person before you start reaching for the sky. Join hands and hearts and lives with the people around you. They will keep you strong when the winds howl and the earth shakes and your very foundations are in peril. They are the ones who will see the beauty in how strongly you are attached to life, how caring you are to other people, and this is the beauty that shows on your face, on your heart. The beauty that never fades despite line and times and forgotten mascara.
This is the beauty that makes your beloved turn to you in the morning and tell you how gorgeous you are even when you have bed hair and your glasses on and are wearing nothing more than a smile. This is the beauty that is a platinum patina on your heart. This is the beauty that is shared between people, not the beauty that separates based on aesthetics. There is no foundation in the world that can mask the scars of an ugly heart. No lip-plumping gloss that will make up for unkind words and disrespect of another’s viewpoint. No implant for a soul that never learned to love and accept and hope and seek and dare and fail and try all over again.
Let this be our new beauty regime, our new beauty secret, or our aesthetic philosophy, whatever you wish to call it: beauty starts within. Learn to be happy. Learn to give to others. Learn to forget what your face looks like and worry about the shape of your heart. Learn to nourish yourself and others: heart, mind, body, and soul. Learn to put happy before beautiful and apply liberally every day.