This week, my husband and I had a post wedding treat and visited a local spa and photoshoot place in Cheltenham for an afternoon of relaxation with some photos at the end of it. It was a really lovely day and really nice to spend some quality time together as a couple.
As part of the treats, I had my hair and make-up done, and don’t get me wrong, it was lovely to be pampered. However, one thing I did notice is how long it took to really cake on the make-up, and the reason for this was to make sure any ‘imperfections’ were hidden. But I couldn’t help but notice that in the process, some of my individuality was also hidden, the chicken pox scar on my forehead, the faint mole on my right cheek, the scar just above my lip from falling off my bike (I have always been relatively accident prone!), the little bits on my face that made me me. I have, since the age of 11 been blighted with horrible skin. My Dad and I have spent thousands of pounds and many many hours trying out various remedies, and the acne I was assured was only teenage, is still going more than strong 18 years later. It has got me down over the years but I’ve learnt to live with it. So when the make-up was being applied I was pleased to see the spots disappear but sad to see the other parts disappearing too.
Now obviously, I can’t have it both ways, show off the little imperfections I don’t mind that only belong to me, whilst hiding the imperfections that I feel blight me; but what did strike me is just how different my face looked once caked with all the make-up. Much better than normal, I initially thought but even my husband said he barely recognised me and can that really be considered real beauty?
I’m not a big fan of modern show home type homes, I love some character in the house I live in and that character on my face was being polyfilled. I have spent many years trying to go out in public without worrying about whether people will only see the acne on my face and many years trying to prove that my character makes me more than a few spots on my skin. And I’d hate to think that my daughter would turn down event invitations if she felt her hair wasn’t in place, or she didn’t like the dress she was wearing. I want for her to be confident enough to be able to stand up, shoulders tall, and make her mark uninhibited by the way she looks, and that goes for both sides of the spectrum. A very good friend of mine gets intimidated easily on nights out because people are always staring at her as she is strikingly beautiful.
Everyone judges from the outside, and sadly that’s second nature, women’s magazines are filled with it – on one page, ‘OMG check out Beyonce’s stomach, pregnancy rumours afoot’ with a big red circle round the ‘offending’ stomach. The next page, a big special on how ‘you too can lose 4 stone on the misery diet, just look how beautiful this celebrity with unlimited funds and resources looks on it,’ with a picture of a completely unblemished airbrushed celebrity, usually with an ‘inspirational’ quote on how much better their life is now. Then on the next page, they’ll be a heartwarming story on how we should all love ourselves for who we are and not let men get us down with their horrendously shallow ways. It’s strange though, I don’t see one man on the previous two pages pointing out the flaws or coming up with plans on how we can all look much better than we do. Not only that but somewhere in the magazine you can be absolutely sure that they’ll be some kind of half naked picture of a male celebrity who has no doubt spent 6 months on a horrendously difficult training plan for a film part that we’re encouraged to drool over because of course, women aren’t as shallow as men..!
Luckily the trend IS changing, Dove did a fantastic campaign to show women of all different shapes and sizes, and a lot of ‘diets’ coming across now emphasise being healthy instead of being skinny. And I hope that my daughter will be a part of that side of things, for women AND men. The individualities of our personalities is what really makes us all unique and special and that’s absolutely the case with our looks as well. Which is why when we were offered some airbrushing of our pictures, we said no; for only a tiny bit extra they could straighten out one of my teeth that’s slightly wonky (affectionately named snaggletooth in our house, it’s always there in pictures, snaggling away, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to shut my mouth for pictures or avoid smiling just so people can see I don’t have perfect teeth.) A lot of my favourite pictures have snaggletooth out in full view but if it’s a natural picture of us all laughing together (me and my family, not me and my teeth..!) I’m certainly not going to let the slight wonk of a tooth make me hide that picture away! So no, I do not wish to spend £6 on getting rid of snaggletooth. If he was decayed, then yes, I’d spend money on sorting it, but the wonk is there to stay.
I’m lucky enough that so far the stretch marks have been minimal in pregnancy, but it’s early days still for them and if they come, they come, and they will forever be marks on my body to show what beautiful amazing thing it managed to do by growing a child and for that reason, I will cherish them. My baby made those and every woman should be proud of them.
Attached is a picture of my face, on one side, there is no redness and no imperfections and my eye looks more impressive. On the other…well on the other side you can actually see what my face looks like! The light when I took it isn’t even really good enough to show how different, but it’s my face and both sides of my face thoroughly enjoyed the day. We’ve got a couple of the pictures from the day as a keepsake as the photographer caught some really lovely natural moments; they may not have been the pictures the photographer recommended, as in one I have slight double chin and in another my hair is half covering my face. BUT, ‘double chin’ is because Tom and I are genuinely laughing together and ‘hair face’ is a moment caught between myself and my baby as I was getting ready to pose and she started kicking.
Moments is what life is made up of and moments are what we all remember, I hope my daughter has the confidence to embrace those moments without reserve. It took me a long time, I’m 29 and I’m only just starting to do so, ten years ago I would never have posted the picture attached because I wouldn’t have wanted people to see that my face is a bit puffy from pregnancy and I have bad skin. Does it mean that when teenage boys in a supermarket on a Tuesday night shout ‘pizza face’ at me I don’t care..? God no, I find a spare ten minutes and absolutely ball my eyes out! But do I stop going to the shops and/or plaster on the make-up? Absolutely not, how dare they even try to make me feel bad about the way I look. But maybe, just maybe if we all start standing up for who we really are and what we really look like, we’ll all realise that it is the smiles and not the teeth, it is the laughs and not the double chins, that are really important to cherish.