I woke up one Saturday morning and decided it was time for a change.
I’ve been doing this a lot over the last while – waking up and realizing I was done with this version or that version of myself and changing whatever it was that I was displeased with. I quit smoking, I quit caffeine (mostly). I burned some bridges and tightened my circle. I randomly decided one weekend to get highlights in my hair, I switched to all-natural hair and skin products another weekend… the list goes on. I guess maybe I get bored and want to tackle some unknown territory. I’m honestly not sure what drives the need for me to change things about myself…. I just wake up in the morning and decide to do something different. And so, I do.
The most recent change came at the beginning of this year – I decided at the end of January that I was over straightening my hair and spending an hour in front of the mirror each morning on makeup; by the end of March, I had weaned myself off makeup and was wearing my hair completely natural consistently for the first time in 20 odd years. What it came down to is I was fucking tired. I was tired of keeping up a façade, of meeting society’s standards – or so I thought.
The last almost two years has been a trial for me, that’s for sure. Emotionally and mentally, I went rounds with demons that have been buried for the majority of my life – all while continuing to raise my boys and work full time and help brother with the things he had going on. The fact that I was tired isn’t a shock, looking back. The fact that I wanted to put as little effort into my outward appearance when I was working so hard on what I had going on inside also isn’t a shocker. I kept up my hair appointments because I mostly liked how the highlights in my hair gave my curls some definition. But other than keeping up with my hygiene and taking care of the skin I had, I did nothing to alter my outward appearance. And mostly, it felt fantastic. I could rub my eyes without fear of smudging my makeup. I spent so much less money not having to buy creams and makeup and salon products. From the time I woke to the time I was ready to walk out the door, my daily beauty routine could be accomplished in 30 minutes flat should I need it to, but only 45 if I wanted to take my time. It was freeing to literally just not give a shit anymore. To be taking care of myself without catering to everyone’s expectations.
My hair wouldn’t hold the blonde highlights though and I was constantly having to have it toned. It constantly looked orange to me and made me crazy. I decided one day that I didn’t want to dye it anymore because of this, but then the fact that my darker roots were showing was another thorn in my side. I saw a couple pictures of myself, and the lighter hair color made me look washed out, and the lack of makeup was bothersome to me, as well. I didn’t look like myself, even to me. I could look in the mirror and be happy with the person looking back at me – I don’t nitpick my appearance as much as I used to. But I kind of missed the badass feeling that dark hair and mascara brought me.
I contemplated this for a few days, and then suddenly, it clicked.
Like . . . what if that is just who I am? What if me as a person needs darker hair and some makeup to walk out the door each day?
You have parts of society pushing you to be all natural, and you have parts of society pushing you to be glamorous. Do your hair, do your makeup… this style, that style. Be yourself, embrace your natural beauty… grow your hair out, stop dying it, so on and so forth, blah blah blah.
What about what I want? What about what makes me happy?
Dark medium length hair makes me happy. Not having to do more than dry it and throw some product in it also makes me happy. Make up makes me feel like I have my shit together, even on the days when I might not.
I do like that the products I use now are better for my skin and for the environment. I do like that now that I drink less caffeine and more water and quit smoking and am using these more naturally derived products, my skin looks healthier, and I break out less.
Spending an hour in front of the mirror to go to the grocery store does not make me happy though. It is not fun, and I have better ways to spend my time. I don’t want to go backwards and forget all that I learned from my time away from society’s standards
So, I cut my hair and dyed it – but I found a hair dye that was safer for the environment and with more natural products.
So, I bought make up – but again, it was ‘clean’ makeup, and I only bought the things that I knew I would use.
I realized too that I can have a happy medium – I don’t have to go all out every day. I can throw gel in my hair and mascara on, and it can be good enough if that’s all I’m feeling up to. Other days I may get out the eyeshadow palette – who knows. What it comes down to is I don’t have to live up to anyone’s standards but my own, and while I’ve known that for ages and preached that for ages, I realize more and more every day what that truly means. I’m not wrong in wanting to simplify my life, and I’m not wrong in admitting that I like how I look with a couple alterations to my appearance. That’s the beauty of our world today – you can just go on and be whoever the hell you want to be– every single day.