Ugly is irrelevant. It is an immeasurable insult to a woman, and then supposedly the worst crime you can commit as a woman. But ugly, as beautiful, is an illusion. A matter of taste, a whim, an eye, a beholder, an opinion, a spin, light crossing the frame, paint, projection. The moment. Context.
As I was cleaning my apartment today I stumbled upon some pictures of me from a few years back (high school to be exact). My thoughts immediately went to, “God, I wish my abs looked like that.” or “I need to get back to that weight.” Mind you, during high school I was a multi-sport athlete and working out for a few hours at least five days a week. Normally these thoughts would get echoed in my brain, make me feel just a little bit worse about what I look like now and make me want to buckle down to try a new work out method. Not today.
I asked myself “Why?” Why do I need to look like I did when I played sports year round? Why do I need to look like a 17 year old? Should I try and loose some weight before I get my new headshots? I am on the eve of my 26th birthday and the last thing that I want to carry into my next year of life is negative thoughts about my body.
We are constantly told by the media what the ideal standard of beauty is. Long legs, thin arms, flat stomach, perfect dimple-free butt, long flowy hair and flawless glowing skin. Are we all trying to Keep up with the Kardashians? If so, I better go stock up on vats of concealer, black eyeliner and hair extensions. That is not real. (I mean do they ever wash their faces?)
I remember when I was in high school (and at my “ideal” weight) thinking that I was fat. Mostly because I didn’t look like the other girls in my school. Blonde, preppy and a size 2. My Puerto Rican body is different. I have curves. Plenty of them. I also have big athletic legs and a booty. As an actor, my weight is something that some people are uncomfortable with because they don’t know where to place me. I’m not thin, but I’m not fat… I’m curvy and athletic. Should I loose weight to try to look like the other thousands of cookie-cutter girls out there auditioning?
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my mom yesterday that it all clicked. No. I do not want to look like anyone else but me. I am going to get my new headshots and be the best version of me, which is the current me. That is the person I love to be and my friends & family love to be around. That girl… (curvy, sarcastic, silly me) will get jobs. Not the girl I think other people want me to be (generic me). I am going to rock out that photo shoot like never before. And I’m going to book jobs that I am right for… they ARE out there they just haven’t found me yet.
So here’s my “aha” moment for today: There is no magic pill, no magic work out, no diet plan or surgery that can take you to your ideal body. The only thing that will really work is to be kind. Be kind to the body you have right now. Love every curve, every inch of your flesh and your insides. Take time to feed yourself kindly with fresh foods until you are satisfied and not stuffed. Go out and give your muscles some time to stretch regularly so you don’t have to go on exercise binges. Most of all, be kind to what you see in the mirror. If you don’t appreciate the beauty that is right in front of you now, you may look back one day and wonder why you didn’t see the beautiful woman that you already were. So take some time and be kind to yourself and everything else should fall into place. Right?
My best friend wrote this. <3
So when I am not blogging or in school, I work at a beauty supply. I work there because I grew up with a hair stylist as a mother and have always worked in spas and salons; anywhere that has to do with “making yourself beautiful”.
As I continue to blog and continue to go to school, pursuing all that I am hoping to, I continue to see through the fallacies of the beauty stories we have all been told - and I don’t feel good about it.
Every day I help women who are going through the exquisite aging process purchase products that help diminish or mask or promise to turn back the hands of time because aging is considered ugly. I help woman buy bleach and peroxide to die their hair because only blondes are thought to be beautiful. I help women buy makeup because their faces without it are shameful. I actively perpetuate the ideas of false beauty and I am paid for it. For this I feel like a fraud.
South Orange County has a very particular “beauty story”. There is a reason shows like The OC, The Laguna Beach Show and The Orange County Housewives are made. Plastic surgery, bleach blonde hair, Botox, luxury cars, and the privileged white lifestyle are all the rage. Don’t forget the floods of church bumper stickers, American flags and ivy league school pride.
Recently, a person came into the store while we were slightly busy. As they entered the store, all the other customers stopped to stare. The person was gay, genderqueer and had modified their face through plastic surgery. Their hair was long and in a pony tail and they wore lip gloss. I ignored everyone’s reaction and asked how the person was doing. They let me know they were there to talk to my managers about a new make up line we were going to be selling. We got to talking and I found out they lived in LA. We talked about the city, favorite restaurants etc. The conversation was delightful. At one point during our short chat, a cis man in the store left because he was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t believe it. He literally put his items on the counter and walked out of the store while staring at us.
Why is someone who does not adhere to a particular “beauty story” so perplexing? Perplexing enough to leave a store or a restaurant or a park? Why does it make people so uncomfortable to see other people who express an alternative story - a story that suits their authentic self, their authentic joys and concepts of beauty?
I don’t think everyone staring at the make-up rep was a reflection upon the make-up rep, but a reflection upon those that were staring. If seeing a gay couple or someone who is trans* or someone who is genderqueer or someone who is covered in piercings or someone who is Gothic or someone who is pregnant without a wedding ring on - if seeing someone who is not adhering to the cultural story you have been told all your life as to what is considered right and wrong, beautiful and ugly causes you to stare or to get up and leave, then that is not a reflection of those that you judge, it is reflection of you and the story you are choosing to believe in.
I choose to look at my job as an opportunity to observe and listen. I try and see the patterns in the cultural stories and listen to what every person I help tells me. I am a firm believer that once you know the root of an issue you can create a solution. Working within the beauty industry is an opportunity for me to further my own education about what men and women believe and don’t believe about themselves and the world around them. Hopefully I can use my experience within the “beauty industry” to become a better educator.