This is Who I Am
I’m writing this because I’m tired of making excuses for my hobbies, my interests, and things I love to do. I’m tired of feeling ashamed because I like things that people look down on. Big deal. I do them for me, not for other people. So much so, in fact, that I’m writing this more to remind myself than tell other people.
The way I was raised, I was taught that the only thing I was good for was getting married and making a good wife, preferably having a lot of kids. In order to do that, I had to be attractive but not too attractive because that was slutty; I had to take care of myself but not too much because that was vain; care for my appearance by having long long hair but I couldn’t wear makeup because that made me a whore. Don’t take compliments seriously – either the person is lying and will eventually try to get a favor from you, or even if it’s true, it’s not a compliment towards you, it’s a compliment for God because he gave you that beauty/talent/feature/gift. This group judged the culture around them by their narrow standard of beauty, without the self-awareness to realize their standard was just as narrow if not more so.
I was taught to be smug, that I was above “worldly” women because I was better than them. I was told I didn’t need to hide my face with makeup, not like those conceited hussies. I was instructed not to show off my body like those women walking around in mini-skirts and bikinis; you don’t want men to like you for only your body. Save your first kiss for marriage, don’t be a slut. If you do any of these things, you will lose your value as a good future wife, and after all, you have nothing else you could possibly do that is worth anything.
When I left that world behind at age 20, I took all of that with me, internalized. I suppose I hadn’t truly left it at that point. I was afraid to go outside of that box, because if I did I would just be proving them right. They also did a fantastic job at crushing any small bit of self esteem I possibly could have had, and made it virtually impossible to gain it thanks to the training that compliments are a lie and any attractiveness or talents are based on God’s whim.
It’s been almost five years since then. I have learned a lot of things, but the main thing that I learned is that it’s all bullshit.
I do many things now that were completely forbidden in my previous life. Things considered slutty, whoreish, vain, or just plain wrong. And you know what? They’re not wrong. They’re just different.
I wear makeup now. I had a lot of learning to do before I stopped looking like a little kid that raided mommy’s makeup drawer, but over the past couple years I’ve realized a lot of things about makeup, both techniques and personal realizations. There was a girl at church summer camp that wore silver lipstick every day; we mocked her behind her back for being insecure and hiding her face, and called her silver-lips (Yeah, we were creative). Now I realize not only how cruel we were, but how brave she was for putting up with our shit and still doing what she wanted to do.
I don’t wear makeup to hide my face. I wear it because it’s fucking awesome that I can put art on my face and wear it anywhere. I wear it because I can change my look drastically with just a few flicks of a brush; not because I want to pretend I don’t look like I do, but because I can do it anyways. In fact, I like how I look naturally even more now. Most mornings I barely put any makeup on; I generally do a swipe of mascara and touch up my eyebrows. And some days I wake up early because I want to use bright colors and wear bold winged eyeliner. I am a beautiful person, and a canvas for art. Want to tell me it’s not art? Check this out. Or this. Sure, that’s not something that you’d wear every day, but how about this or this?
If you tell someone makeup is one of your hobbies, you can tell they automatically think you’re incredibly shallow. Or, if you’re not wearing any makeup when you say that, they look skeptical. But it really is a hobby for me. I experiment with colors, with looks, with new eyeshadow or crazy lipstick. It’s fun! No one tells you you’re weird if you say painting is your hobby, but if that goes on your face, it’s suddenly weird. If you post pictures of your sculpture on Facebook, people say it’s awesome. If you post a new makeup look, it’s a vain selfie. I’m honestly not trying to make you look at my face or trolling for “You’re so pretty” compliments. I want to show off the effort I put into the art, show off a new technique I used.
On the same token, I do nail art. That’s not quite as weird to people, but it’s the same to me. I have ten tiny canvases on my hands that I can do really fun things on. I have a lot to learn about this too, but it’s still pretty awesome that I can carry a bunch of art with me wherever I go.
I also pole dance. Now, that’s something that gets a bad rap. You say that and instantly most people think about strip clubs at best, or drug addicts walking around on stilettos begging for dollars at worst. For me, it’s about as scandalous as ballet. It takes an enormous amount of strength, flexibility, and stamina. Don’t believe me? Watch this. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
I’ve seen more scandalous dancing on Dancing With the Stars. And if you think you can do any of those moves without practice, come over to my apartment and show me. I mean, I can’t do most of them and I’ve been doing this for about a year.
For me it’s about exercise and fun and yes, feeling sexy and confident. Not because I can strut around in a bikini (though that’s fun too), but because it’s a talent I’ve learned and strength I’ve gained. I’ve never performed a routine in front of anyone except my pole class and my fiance. I want to eventually, but not until I can do a routine awesome enough.
When it comes down to it, it’s never about what other people think. You know what? If you don’t want to wear makeup, if you don’t want to wear nail polish, if you don’t want to pole dance, if you want your life to be the complete opposite of mine, awesome! You don’t care about my opinion anyways, and that’s cool! I’m not going to judge you. Just don’t judge me.