Beauty, Lookbook

Dear fifteen-year-old me, stop being so damn judgmental of other women

"You look so much prettier without it, why try to please others?"

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Later on today, I am taking part in a photo shoot for the Interfaith Youth Core’s Better Together Coach program – which is super exciting! And along with the outfit I’m packing for it, I’m packing makeup to put on later. Seeing the way I view makeup now, verses how angsty fifteen-year-old highschool me viewed makeup, it’s funny to see my current actions. Fifteen-year-old me would biting current me’s head off.

But if I could talk to fifteen-year-old me, I would try to make her to better understand my current decisions.

I would explain to fifteen-year-old me that I’m packing makeup not because I’m uncomfortable with my face, but I’m packing it because I’m very comfortable with my face. It’ll stand out in the photos more, and I’ll also touch my face less (which we all know is how we spread germs to ourselves). I’m no makeup guru like the fabulous Fatima Ali, but I do appreciate and trust makeup more than I used to.

I'm packing it because I'm very comfortable with my face. Click To Tweet

In middle school, I struggled with low self-esteem and anxiety. This caused me to douse myself in makeup and damage my hair with greasy products and use flat irons too much and too poorly. Towards the end of eighth grade, I was able to learn to love myself and my appearance better while also forcing myself to take care of myself better.

Come high school, I cut my hair a lot shorter for it to become healthy again, learned better hair care routines, and decided to stop wearing makeup. I wouldn’t wear makeup unless I was told to for a family function or something along the lines of that.

This was all because I began to view makeup as a sign of weakness and an indicator of low self-esteem, because I knew that’s what I used it for in the past. I believed that makeup was only marketed to women so that women could please men – which could explain why we had a tendency to be more sensitized about the way we look to others. I would always be the one to say to my sisters or other women, “You look so much prettier without it, why try to please others?”

I didn’t trust makeup anymore.

I began to view makeup as a sign of weakness and an indicator of low self-esteem Click To Tweet

I thought I was empowering women when I said the statement mentioned earlier, and it actually did encourage a few. However, what I was saying for most women was not empowering, it was judgmental in the guise of female empowerment. And I should have known better; as someone who has struggled with body image at a young age, why perpetuate that to others?

After my freshman year of college, my sisters, cousin, aunt, and mother were all comparing and contrasting eye shadows and lipsticks while talking about their favorite products. Even with the few amount of makeup tools I had, they invited me into the conversation. And it was… fun. It wasn’t a circle of talking about how to please others, it was a conversation that allowed building one another up with the many ways we can look pretty. This was also around the same time I discovered Mary Kay products and became a beauty consultant for a little while, because I liked how comfortable the products were on the face.

It was building one another up with the many ways we can look pretty. Click To Tweet

It would still be nice to live in a society where men and women can make better distinctions of when women are wearing makeup and when they’re not – especially without referring to makeup wearers as “tired” when they’re not. I still believe that myself and other women look better without makeup, but I don’t believe that all women wear makeup to please others or wear it because of a lack of confidence. Seeing my sister wear makeup a lot, taking so much time with contour and sticking one too many things in her eyes, why would she dedicate that time to anyone but herself?

I still don’t wear makeup often, but when I do, it’s to feel good and look good. And if fifteen-year-old me were to have a conversation with the me now, I would hope she would be happy with how far I’ve come.

Maya Williams

Maya Williams

Maya Williams has her Bachelor’s in Social Work and Bachelor’s in English from East Carolina University. She also has her Master’s in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social justice from the University of New England. She has published articles and poems on sites such as The Tempest, INTER, Black Girl Nerds, Multiracial Media, GlitterMOB, and Soft Cartel. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry, facilitating writing workshops for youth, and watching movies/musicals.

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