I was thirteen the first time I tried makeup. I had no one to show me how to put it on because my mom didn’t wear makeup. “Too fake” she’d often mumble as I’d look at her unused makeup bag that had years of dust layered on top of it. So I practiced secretly in my room; I had a tiny mirror I’d stand in front of my TV. Despite my many attempts to put it on, most of the time I would never wear it to school. And if I did, it would be simply eyeliner, and it often rubbed off after my second or third class.
I was fourteen when I developed an eating disorder (maybe I was thirteen). I had no one to tell me I was beautiful, except for a few girls I could count as friends. But it never meant much because that’s what friends are supposed to do. We tell each other we’re beautiful, because friends build friends up. I ate one meal a day, sometimes two if I dared to splurge.
When I was fifteen I began dating. Okay, more like I secretly “dated” this guy who was three years older than myself. My mom only knew him as “the weirdo who always called me, and wanted to take me hunting.” We hung out once, never kissed or held hands. That sort of thing was too awkward for two high schoolers who never dated before. I couldn’t be more awkward at dating. We lasted maybe a month.
At sixteen, I found myself….well sort of. I befriended a group of girls who turned out to be my best friends for the next three years. Finding a group I could connect with changed me. I still went through those awkward phases of growing up and maturing. We talked about boys. Drugs. Girl problems. School lunch. Everything and anything.
The day I turned eighteen, I realized I was an adult. All the previous rules of being a teenager didn’t really apply to me anymore. Okay, they still did since I was in high school. I started dating a man. Seriously dating him. Not one of those silly girl-crush dating, but a woman dating a man. Having an adult-to-adult relationship. I was still in my awkward stage. I was sad I was growing up. However, I still had growing up to do.
At twenty-two I’m rocking the whole being single thing. Yeah, it’s fun being independent! And I’m still not in a hurry to trying to find “The One.” I go to college. I stay up way too late, and wake up way too early. I definitely don’t get my recommended 8 hours of sleep. I freak out because I have three papers to write, and a test or two to study for all at the same time. And don’t forget the many pages for each class I need to read. I sit through long lectures, take little snoozers in between classes, and try to branch out to at least one classmate per class.
At twenty-two I watch how the fashion has drastically changed in the last nine years. When I wore farm-ripped jeans (you know, pants ripped from barbed wire fence) in middle school I got made fun of, literally, like I was a hobo-chick. Now girls buy ripped jeans. Leggings were worn with skirts or dresses. Now they’re worn as pants. Eyeliner was simple and worn only on the bottom of the eye, now it’s made into “wings” on the eyelid. Lip gloss was the way to go, while lipstick was ugly. Now, the brighter the lipstick the more “individuality” a person has.
To the girl I saw wearing lipstick. You had your hair down-curled. Your makeup done to the perfectionist’s approval. You glanced my way. I felt small as I wore my black skirt with my leggings and boots. My flannel shirt worn loosely over my tee. I felt your eyes burn across me, wondering what in the world was I wearing. And I wondered if you had a sense of just how much the times have changed since I was your age.
Because at fifteen I wasn’t worried about what boy was into me (because I’ll admit, probably no guy anyways). At fifteen I was learning how to be a dysfunctional teenage girl making it in the world. At fifteen I got my first cell phone–it was a flip phone. You hold a smart phone in your hand. At fifteen I didn’t need all the “likes” on an Instagram pic in order to feel like I was accomplishing life. Granted I didn’t have Instagram, and I probably didn’t even Facebook yet. Snapchat? It might have been a thought in that guy’s head.
To the girl I saw wearing lipstick. You don’t need to be the “easy” chick. You don’t always need to say “yes.” You can be pretty while not wearing makeup. Put your hair up once in awhile. Wipe the makeup off. The Beauty standards have risen to a ridiculous degree. Save yourself for the right boy, not the one who just wants another number. Date a nerdy guy once in awhile. You’ll learn something new.
To the girl I saw wearing lipstick. Don’t post selfie number 54. Just know you’re beautiful the way you are. You don’t need this world’s approval to be considered “pretty.” You don’t need to lose another ten pounds, or gain an extra cup size. You don’t need to have the perfect eyebrows. Or dye your hair.
To the girl I saw wearing lipstick. Don’t be another victim of what the World considers to be “pretty.”You’re the only you there is in the world. And no one does you better than you so just be you. You’re beautiful. You’re perfect. You’re amazing. You’re you.