The Faces of Beauty
As I’ve noted before, I struggle amongst my “selves” writing a post focused on appearance. I walk a fine line between promoting ways to enjoy our God-given beauty and contributing to the assault of messages women receive every day telling us happiness waits in an anti-aging cream. I loathe thinking I add to the on-going chase of the elusive beauty ideal.
You know her . . . the unhealthy, undernourished, and unattainable shadow that pops up everywhere. She tells us how to look, what to wear, and who to emulate. She’s 5’ 11”, weighs 103 pounds and sports a 23-inch waist. Well, I want to slap her. I want to scream at her to leave us alone. But, she’s a wily one. Just when you think you’re safe, she shows up again. Any, yes — I frequently fall prey to her.
So, then why write a “beauty” post you might ask? It’s a fine question with a complex answer. I find cosmetics and skincare calming. Yes – calming. It settles my nerves to go through my familiar beauty routine.
While I most often present myself as flippant and full of moxie, I actually write this to convince myself that each of us (including me) encompasses so much more than our appearance. I write it to combat mornings like this:
I wake up. Immediately I wonder what will fit – it’s a fat day. I feel my day sliding downhill already. Just for giggles I decide to weigh myself to confirm my suspicion. BIG MISTAKE. It shouts a number at me that I hate. My weight mocks me. It chastises me for eating too much. I shower quickly. God forbid I expose myself to my body any longer than necessary.
As I get dressed, I beg my clothes to fit. I’m embarrassed to say some mornings my clothes scare me. I’d rather stay in my pajamas because I know those fit. They never betray me.
Finally . . . blessedly, I sit down to put my make-up on. It transports me to a world of child-like enchantment. What colors shall I wear today? Who shall I be: the Parisian woman who wears red lips and skips the rest? The sophisticated urbanite who wears the barely there, but flawless make up? The quirky bohemian woman who wears soft, whimsical colors?
I admit it. Sometimes, I rely on my make-up and other miracle workers to “fix” me. To make me feel better, even for a moment, on days when my mind exists as a labyrinth of problems. My appearance (especially as I age) thickens the labyrinth, which leaves me heaving around the double-edged sword of acceptance and contempt.
But, I recently remembered a lovely story about the founder of Lancôme, Armand Petijean. At one point, I worked for the company as a Regional Trainer. Every time I told the story it reminded me that each woman possesses a unique beauty, regardless of age, weight, or make-up.
Monsieur Petijean’s Story — Petijean founded Lancôme in 1935. He chose the rose as the icon for the brand because he believed the stages of a rose in bloom mirrored that of a woman’s beauty. Each phase of the rose’s passage was equally beautiful, but in its unique way. The young bud of youth, the burgeoning of a woman to the full bloom of maturity. I carry this story with me everyday as a reminder that beauty evolves.