Written by Michelle Chee who desires to write and make an impact in the lives of those around her.
For most women, beauty is a journey. A journey which begins in childhood and ends when we kick the bucket. As a woman, my journey began with what my parents told me was beautiful, and what I saw on television and the newspapers. All the cartoon characters had smooth fair skin, and all the women in newspapers and magazines had legs that reached up to the sky. So I thought to myself, this had to be true. Beauty was defined as being slim, having long shiny hair and high cheekbones.
All this societal definitions made the adolescent, overweight me feel ugly and dumpy. I felt that I would never amount to anything in the world because I constantly struggled with my weight and bad skin. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a sin to be born with slim legs or sharp features. However, it took me a long time to realize that real women came in all shapes, sizes, and color. And, a woman’s true beauty lay in her heart and her character.
However, as I mentioned earlier, realizing what beauty is for us as individual women is a long and arduous journey. For many women, the journey to defining and realizing what beauty means to them is closely tied to their journey of self-confidence. What makes a woman beautiful? Is it just her body? Does her personality count? How important is makeup? How important is skin care? For each woman, the answer differs, as is the right of every woman to differ in her opinion.
Growing up as an insecure teenager, there were times I felt that those images I saw in the mass media were out of my league and I could never or would never be as beautiful as them. This was compounded by the fact that I had many female friends who often criticized the wearing of makeup. Whether their opinions were formed by the influence of family, religion or society, I do not know. I do know that I wanted to fit in and didn’t dare experiment.
By a stroke of luck, something happened to separate me from this group of friends, and I was free to experiment with new experiences in life. One thing led to another and slowly I found that far from being degrading, the correct application of makeup actually enhances one’s beauty. It can be turned into an art form for self-expression. It can be one’s language of individuality, a statement to those around you saying “This is who I am and this is what I stand for”.
One of the platforms that truly allowed me to experiment with makeup and other beauty products was, of course, cosplay. I know what you might be thinking, that it’s an immature hobby and it’s a complete waste of time and money. However, there comes a time in anyone’s life where you just have to stop listening to the naysayers. So yes, it was a safe place where I could try and learn new makeup products and techniques using materials that I’d never seen before.
Being in cosplay exposed me to different fashion trends and makeup subculture, mostly originating from Japan. One of my favourite looks is from a subculture called Shironuri which features heavy white face makeup. The magical thing about it is that after you put the white face paint on, it becomes like a blank canvas where you are free to paint. I was inspired by the ethereal look and style of the subculture’s pioneer, a designer named Minori. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to experiment on this look and create my own outfit. Apart from the white face makeup, the Shironuri fashion style doesn’t mandate any other guidelines, so anyone is free to create the outfit according to their own taste.
I have since met many strong women who consider makeup their empowerment tool. They have taught me that even though all women are truly beautiful creatures, those who choose to use makeup as a tool of expression do so as an outward manifestation of their confidence and love of themselves. This, in my opinion, is what I strive for, to find a space where I am comfortable with myself and with eyeliners, contouring palettes and lip gloss as part of who I am.
If you are a woman (or even a guy) who is struggling with your own self-image, I encourage you to surround yourself with positive, tolerant and accepting people who will love you whatever you look like (Believe me, they exist!). Also, it’s time to stop being hard on yourself.
The true path to happiness begins with you being comfortable with your image and loving yourself. It also helps if you don’t keep on trying to live up to your parents’ or friends expectations all the time.
Trust me, people are attracted to confidence, not perfection.
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