I just stopped trying.
If you have ever had the courage to cry during an episode of “What Not to Wear,” you have heard these words before. A tragic, tired mom, dressed in linen drawstring pants and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt comes undone in the safety of Clinton’s arms, while Stacy, looking so freaking cool with her grey streak of hair, places her hand gently upon our new friend as a proxy for us couch dwellers.
My immediate reaction to these women has always been pity. Oh, poor them, they became gross without even knowing it. I wonder if they’ll ever be happy again.
And then I was the one that stopped trying.
If you read my last blog, you may remember a certain segment where I briefly described my inability to match anymore. Every day I put on combinations I have never worn or seen, and every day I think, this is literally the ugliest outfit I’ve ever put on. And it doesn’t stop there.
My hair… Maybe you’ve heard of helmet hair. It’s an epidemic that is rapidly spreading to those of us whose hair hasn’t built up strong immunities against the astronaut headpiece we wear to ensure safety from both moto crashes and any hope of romance in our future (like we needed to be reminded that the female to male ratio is a trillion to one here). Helmet hair is like bed head mixed with hat hair mixed with post workout head. Sweat + Bed head + Hat hair=Helmet hair.
My face… If Clinton and Stacy could see how I’ve given up on my face, well they wouldn’t even have time for crying. It would be straight to a scolding on how far I’ve let myself go. No tweezers for the eye brows, no powder for the uneven skin, no mascara, shadow, liner, gloss, or glitter. Boy would I pity myself if I were watching me on a TV.
I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly vain person. Of course I enjoy judging others based on my unattainable beauty indicator, but I would never hold myself accountable to the same standards. Thank goodness. But presently I am wearing hot pink shoes, a multi-patterned/multi-colored skirt, a striped holey shirt covered in dog hair, and of course helmet hair. And when I have the misfortune of looking in the mirror, I realize that I just stopped trying. Lucky for me, I don’t have you around to project your own unattainable standards of beauty onto me, or to think poor Emily, she became gross without even knowing it. Well, spoiler alert: I know it. I feel it when I wipe my face with the underside of my shirt and it is immediately stained with dirt and sweat (aka mud).
But there’s something to be said for relinquishing your beauty (if you ever had any according to my indicator) and trading it in for “practical shoes,” which is what mall walkers call Chacos. And that something is that (cliché ahead) beauty actually does come from within.
How did I come to this most monumental of conclusions? I stopped trying. At first, I was cautious. I prepared for an emotional breakdown every time I looked sideways in a mirror through gritted teeth and slit eyes. And the breakdowns did come. But then they went. What also came were new standards for normal, new practical shoes, new jokes to remind us that we have no where to go but up, and new peace that I am, in fact, beautiful. Well that was haughty wasn’t it? Nope.
Beauty is not genetic superiority or cosmetic application, but a soul who has been loved and made by the source of all beauty, the giver of life, and the one who has made all things beautiful in time.
So here I sit, in the aforementioned outfit, my hair more recently thrown into one of my classic messy buns with an extra drizzle of sweat running down my curly q’s, and I’m daring myself to go look in the mirror to see if I really believe what I’m writing is true. Because I don’t feel beautiful. I feel a lot of things, but beautiful? That’s down there with feeling clean, cool, and comfortable. But what I believe is that every day, while my body inevitably wastes away, my spirit breathes new life. Today I became more beautiful because I became more like my creator. It is my hope that I will become more beautiful tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the next, and that in so doing the world may know true beauty as well. So skin, hair, and eyes be darned, I’ve given up on you, and truth be told, you didn’t put up much of a fight. But true beauty? The cliché kind that takes the polished and manicured, unkempt and sweaty? Toward that end I will never stop trying.