I strive to keep my blogs on Eating Gardenias pretty lighthearted and positive. I know there've been a few times I've slipped up and let a serious, or negative, topic seep through. I suppose this is a somewhat serious topic but I feel inclined to write about it anyhow.
As a youngster, I was not secure about my appearance. I was ridiculed for having frizzy hair, unusual features, gangly limbs and whatever else you can think of. Therefore, I gained a somewhat skewed self image during the "dancing queen" years.
This is tough to admit, especially on a public blog, but I still struggle all the time. Today, for example, I had an interesting experience at a cosmetic spa in downtown Charleston. I was fortunate to get assigned an article about the place, and I looked forward to being pampered with a facial and expert makeup application afterward.
But after the facial, with my face naked and glowing, my old insecurities crept back up. I wanted a private moment with myself in the ladies' room to look at my skin, adjust my hair and "check back into the reality hotel," as Brian would say. But my esthetician (who was super nice and accommodating; she just didn't know that I'm insecure) watched me gaze into the mirror post-facial, taking in the reflection of my face with zero makeup and a sheen of expensive moisturizer.
Next, I reluctantly followed her out to the florescent lights of the cosmetic counter, where a makeup artist waited to manipulate my mug. She followed my instructions to "keep things natural," and I could tell she was genuinely enjoying the process by how she kept smiling to herself, but, well, in the end my face still looked...strange. It didn't look like the face that greets me in the mornings after I apply my hodge-podge of cheap drugstore makeup. Not that I looked bad. Just ...odd.
Of course, the makeup artist and esthetician raved over me heartily, both before and after. They talked about how great my skin is, how pretty I looked after the makeup job and a slew of other compliments. It was nice, but it made me pretty uncomfortable.
"You guys say this to everyone," I finally said, somewhat sheepishly. (Accepting compliments has never been my strong point.)
"We see beauty in everyone," agreed the makeup artist. "It's our profession."
I have to admit that was a good answer.
Later, I kept looking at my shimmery eye shadow and slightly darker lipstick in the mirror while I made dinner and reflected (pun intended) on how, really, I didn't look that different. I realize now that my makeup looked strange to me because I let someone else handle my face and talk about my appearance. In short, I was just feeling insecure. But, the makeup artist's declaration on how beauty is visible in everyone definitely resonates.
It's a hard lesson for me to learn, but I need to practice every day.