When did you feel beautiful this year? Why? (Prompt credit: Project Reverb)
It was my twenty-second birthday celebration, and I struggled with picking out something to wear for the occasion. I've never totally subscribed to the usual college beauty standard, which seems to involve showing as much skin as possible, wearing heels that you can barely walk in (at least by the end of the night), and applying a lot of make-up. After going as Audrey Hepburn that previous Halloween, I had taken a liking to the Old Hollywood Glamour look and wanted to somehow incorporate that.
It resulted in this....
I felt beautiful because I felt sophisticated. I felt confident in the fact that I could dress up in order to simply feel good rather than to impress someone. Yes the neckline is low, the jewelry sparkles and I'm wearing somewhat dramatic eye make-up, but is it fair to assume that it's for the sake of attention? I preferred to see it as a sign that my standards of beauty (and personal style) were changing, and in a good way.
I did struggle with trying to dress fashionably while still being tasteful about it (and some will argue that I was hardly ever "tasteful" at all, but modesty is different for everyone). It was less about trying to prove that I was a better person and more about reflecting where I was at in life. I was getting older and naturally outgrowing certain things, particularly when it came to my clothing choices.
The same could be said for how I wore make-up. From my final years of high school until probably my junior year of college, it was all about partially smokey eye-shadow and piling on the eye-liner. Due to my oily skin, that typically resulted in looking like I had dirt all over my face by the end of the day/night. As the years went by I created different looks, mostly depending on the occasion but also my mood. The look in the picture above has gradually become one of my favorites, because it's both timeless and versatile. It's not always easy to do and I have days where the liner goes on unevenly and my eyelashes look clumpy, but I'm learning to be OK with that.
And I'm not saying that I'm against my natural features, or that I don't appreciate articles, blogs, and so on that cater to embracing a bare face. There are days where I get bored with dolling myself up all the time, and I'd like to think that my skin needs a break every once in awhile. But let's be careful about pigeonholing those who do wear make-up a lot as people who are insecure or have something to hide. I happen to enjoy the creativity that goes into the process, and since I have a bit of a baby-face, there are circumstances that call for a little enhancing (such as a job interview or a formal event). In other words, it gives a little "oomph" to what I already have.
That's my current definition of beauty, and I have no doubt that it will bend and change over the course of time. As long as it helps me to be the best person that I can be, than that's what matters.