The Beautiful Like Me Project has another question to ponder today. WickedStepMom wants to know when I felt most beautiful so far on my journey in life. The true answer plays right to the point of this project. I wish I felt the most beautiful when I was the natural me. Not so though. I know for a fact the time I felt the most beautiful was when I was heavily costumed as a young adult. It could have been a costume for a show I was in or a costume for work. Layers of fancy clothes, makeup and fake tan decorating my too thin body made me feel perfect. Add to the mix permed curls and gold streaks to transform my normal bone straight and unremarkable brown hair and I was smoking! I clearly remember several moments in my life when I received some oohs and ahhhhs that gave me a great sense of satisfaction and self-worth. I felt powerful. Why wouldn’t I? Beauty and power often go hand in hand. At least, this seems to be true when speaking of material beauty.
Looking back at old pictures of myself I have a hard time relating to the girl who was me. The 37 year old sees so many layers that didn’t have to be there. The face looks proud and confident. I imagine the confidence was genuine, but can you really call it that when it was only present after countless hours of primping and prepping?
I spent years keeping up the rituals of makeup, elaborate hairstyles, tans and fashionable clothing. The rituals came to an abrupt end with my first pregnancy. I was one of those women you hear about who spends the entire nine months puking her brains out. I was too sick to care about rituals. Getting through the day took all my effort. The same thing happened with my second pregnancy. Those were a combined 18 months of Lisa in her most natural form. By the time I was done with pregnancies and had more energy to invest in my appearance, and some investment was definitely needed because I know for a fact I looked like hell, I couldn’t bring myself to don all the makeup and fancy clothes. I found myself satisfied, even if not impressed, by the less glam Lisa. Eyeliner and mascara made me feel ridiculous. The thought of adding a tan was insane. Why get people used to seeing me all bronzed up again? Now I could be my chalky white self without people asking me if I was feeling okay. Life was just easier without all of the chaos of beauty. Clean skin, a touch of lipstick, a decent hair cut, clothes that weren’t too mommyish and a healthy dose of color to hide my gray was all I needed to feel good about myself.
You’d think that what I just shared would bring me to a point where I could say I felt beautiful now. I don’t. Not really. Not in terms of how we’ve been groomed to assign beauty. It’s true I feel satisfied, however. There are times when I wonder if feeling satisfied might be more valuable than feeling beautiful. It’s all encompassing acceptance, after all. Satisfaction seems more durable and better able to stand the test of time until society gets its act together and stops using the idea of beauty as a means to marginalize, harm, profit and promote.