The Tower (Princeton, NJ)
Most mornings these days, I roll off of my couch around 7:25 a.m. and race to the bathroom mirror to get ready. As I pop in my contacts and my vision clears, I wonder if I will ever come to accept the image I view in front of me. I come slightly closer to achieving this as I get my eyeliner and mascara going, although a part of me feels guilty for succumbing to this method of an image boost. Who even decided that contoured cheekbones, black eyeliner, and long lashes make someone more attractive? I’ve noted that very frequently, girls will apologize for not wearing makeup, or say something along the lines of “Sorry I don’t look good,” or “Don’t look at me right now.” It has become custom to put on makeup or make an effort to alter one’s appearance everyday, and when you think about it, the entire concept is rather peculiar.
My outlook regarding this matter was very different when I was younger. In eighth grade, I used to conduct my own ugly days. This meant that I would go to school in worn-out athletic apparel, no makeup, and glasses. I felt as though it were important, or eye-opening, to see how people would react when I appeared what could be considered my ugliest. Several boys would ask me why I looked so bad, or so young, and they would also laugh at me. When I started doing stage makeup for Spectacle Theatre freshman year, I once told the girls around me that I didn’t think I was “that ugly.” At this point in my life, I had long, ombré, straightened hair, that was always hanging over my carefully-chosen outfits. When I said this, the nasty looks I got from everyone around me implied that it wasn’t socially acceptable to think or say that. However, had I complained about how ugly I felt, I likely would have prompted the same reaction.
As the years of high school began to fly by, looking pretty became of utmost importance, but it was never a goal that felt attainable. I made more friends than the one person I had when I entered high school, but I felt as though in order to do so—to attract positive attention from others—I needed to look a certain way. It is not as though I dreaded this or subconsciously disagreed, it was just the way my world functioned. I have worked hard and been able to succeed both academically and extracurricularly. But how does one go about improving one’s self-esteem? There is no magic formula for doing so. The weight that I feel when I am walking the halls, self-conscious about my appearance, is a mental burden. I often hear people unabashedly sharing their opinions about the physical appearances of others, and that in turn makes people even more uncomfortable about their own. However, even though I feel all of these things, this never stops me from being concerned with what I feel is more important: being kind and being a good friend to everyone.
One thing I’ve noticed is how inner beauty specifically correlates to outer beauty. People are much more likely to criticize another person’s appearance if they find internal flaws to pick apart. Therefore, I have chosen to emit kindness, friendliness, a sense of humor, and uniqueness, and hope that it comes off stronger than how my appearance projects itself.
I do not believe that self-confidence goes hand-in-hand with beauty. I am extremely proud of myself for being a good person, for keeping my priorities focused on other people, for chasing after my goals, and for minimizing the effects of the rejection I have had to face. So, even though I dislike my physical appearance, I can still be confident in and love the person I am.
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