When I was little, my mom used to tell me, “Drink your milk. It’ll make you pretty.” I’m not sure if she really believed it or if it was just creative parenting. I drank my daily glass of milk faithfully, because if this was how I was going to get to be beautiful when I was older, then I was all in.
But I’m no longer a little girl who drinks her milk every night. I am a 40-year-old mother of two with gray hair. Yes, I have gray hairs. Not a ton, but enough. I have sprouted 20 new gray hairs just in the last month alone. Gray hairs mean I’m getting older. It’s a fact and gray hairs are the proof.
Do gray hairs effect whether or not I’m a beautiful person? Of course, they don’t. Will that stop me from spending too much money coloring my hair to hide the grays? Of course it won’t. Because I put my beauty in other people’s hands. I allow my concern for what other people think to define me, to define whether or not I am beautiful. I’m afraid that if people see my gray hair, then they won’t think I’m beautiful. They’ll think I look old and tired even though I am most definitely both.
Yesterday I got a haircut. I used to like getting my hair cut, walking out of the salon feeling like a new woman. What’s not to love? But I have a lot of hair, and getting my hair cut requires me to sit in the chair staring at myself in a mirror for a long time. Sure, I take my Kindle and my magazines in an attempt to look away, but the majority of the time it’s unavoidable. I’m forced to sit and stare at myself and all of my imperfections.
Where did that line on my neck come from? I better head to Sephora for some neck cream. Are turtlenecks back in style?
When the hell did my face get so fat? I gotta start working out. Is it the ice cream? It’s probably all of the ice cream.
That little line between my eyebrows is getting bigger. IT’S GETTING BIGGER! I keep staring at it and it’s GETTING BIGGER!
This is stressing me out. I look old and tired. I want some ice cream.
Yeah, mirrors suck. That is why it is totally crazy that after leaving the salon I promptly posted my picture on the social media trifecta (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.) I was nervous about it because I don’t like having my picture taken. Ever. Why? Because when you have your picture taken, later you have to look at that picture and are forced to see everything you’ve been avoiding. So for me to take my own picture AND put it out for the world to see required me to lean into my insecurities and be a little vulnerable (thanks, Rita for sharing that one.)
I was shocked at the response to my picture post. So many of you liked and commented. And do you know what happened? I felt beautiful. And then after that, I felt ashamed. Ashamed because those likes and compliments meant way more than they should because how I feel about myself shouldn’t be so dependent upon how many Facebook likes I receive…or don’t receive.
We all do it. We all drink the milk. We all try to do whatever it takes to be beautiful. We are hardwired to want it. There’s nothing a woman wants more than to be beautiful. Physically beautiful. If any woman tries to tell you differently, she is lying through her newly bleached teeth, if she can even form the words through her silicone injected lips. We believe that being beautiful is all about the physical image that we portray.
But it’s not. Being beautiful person has nothing to do with physical beauty. Being beautiful isn’t about what we look like, it’s about who we are.
Did you feel it? Did you feel the freedom that statement gave you as you read it? Because you should. You should feel a huge sense of freedom knowing that what you’ve been out searching for, what you’ve been out spending tons of money on to create, is actually something that you already possess.
We all know this. We all know deep down inside that physical beauty isn’t everything. It isn’t all that we are. But does that stop us? Does that stop us from fixating on the outside? No, it doesn’t.
Pour me some milk.