Tomorrow I'll be publishing chapter 2 of the next Sophie book but I thought I'd stop by here and write about some other things that have been on my mind.
Yesterday morning I was so pressed for time I actually forgot to put on makeup and didn't even realize my mistake until about two o'clock in the afternoon when I walked into my son's school for a parent/teacher meeting. I figured the teacher wasn't going to judge me but I'll admit to being self-concious later in the day when I walked into a cafe to do some writing. And that's why it surprised me when, a minute or so after I had left the cafe, a man stopped me on the street to tell me how, "...incredibly pretty," I was. My first thought was that the sun must be in his eyes. Surely now that he had stopped me he would spot the pimple on my chin, the spattering of hyper-pigmentation on my right cheek, the brows that weren't perfectly plucked. "Now that he's stopped me he probably wishes he could take it back," I thought. But instead he just sort of gazed at me and said again, "Really, you're beautiful."
I thanked him and walked on, again wondering how he could have missed the pimple. I mean, the whole reason I never leave the house without makeup is because I don't have that kind of confidence. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm unattractive and I never wear heavy makeup. I'm not trying to emulate Dolly Parton here. But I always want to have at least a dusting of Bare Minerals and usually a sweep of bush...maybe a little mascara, just enough to enhance my better features and hide my imperfections (with an emphasis on the latter).
And that's the thing about LA. We live in this celebrity culture where we are sure that imperfections should never be tolerated. It's actually stressful. The majority of my friends spend a fortune on skincare products, botox, fillers, chemical peels, IPL facials and so on Not me. I just spend a fortune on skincare products (really, it's where the majority of my limited disposable income goes).
But the thing is, I also have friends who have resorted to full on plastic surgery and I know at least one Size 2 woman who got liposuction because she thought her thighs needed to be a little bit skinnier.
See, no matter how naturally pretty a woman may be, if she lives in LA chances are she doesn't think she's pretty enough and the more she's complimented on her looks the more insecure she'll become about losing those looks. When people say things like, "You know Janey, the really beautiful woman I introduced you to yesterday?" they're helping define Janey by her looks. Janey is not being identified by her profession, her winning conversation or even her fashion sense. She's being defined by the thing she has the least amount of control over and that's going to give Janey a complex. That's going to send Janey to her Juvederm-injecting-dermatologist the first time she spots a wrinkle. Of course we all like compliments but it would help Janey out if people thought of her as "That beautiful lawyer." Or even, "Janey, that really beautiful woman who was debating politics."
And in a weird way, the very fact that so many Angelinos stay active and keep in shape feeds into this insecurity. We think, well, if I don't feel my age why should I have to look it?
Of course, thanks to modern technology and some really good face creams we don't have to look our age, but we shouldn't be spending all our time and money looking for the fountain of youth either. We shouldn't feel ashamed of not being perfect. If we could all just say, "Yes, I'm going to take care of my body and my skin but I'm not going to obsess," I really think we'd all be the better for it. That compliment and my difficulty in believing in it made me realize that I was dangerously close to obsessing...that's not beautiful. In fact, it's kinda ugly.
Because the truth is, a few wrinkles, 5 extra pounds, a handful or two of freckles, those things won't detract from your natural beauty. And, apparently, neither will a pimple.
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