I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came a across a photo juxtaposing the before and after shots of a woman with and without makeup. In the first photo, the woman had flawless skin, heavy eye makeup and perfectly coiffed hair. In the second picture, the same woman sat in the swivel beauty chair bare faced, but her facial blemishes were clearly visible. Once I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, the comments I saw underneath the picture horrified me.
“That’s why you should take a girl swimming before the first date,” said one commenter. “I’ll spend time with her as long as I never see her before 10 a.m., ” said another. The criticism on the woman’s appearance seemed to continue on for pages.
Intrigued and appalled by the comments, I researched the girl’s story. I soon discovered that the woman in the photo, Ashley VanPevenage, asked her makeup artist friend to do her makeup after suffering a bad reaction to Benzoyl. Her friend asked if he could Instagram a before and after picture. VanPevenage agreed but didn’t anticipate that the photo would go viral over the Internet. VanPevenage, who said she was confident to go out in public without makeup, told news organizations that the whole ordeal has made her extremely self-conscience of her appearance.
I personally feel bad for women like VanPevenage who are punished for being imperfect (gasp!). We live in a world where the media creates unrealistic and unfair expectations for women and men. Television shows, magazines and movies show us what it means to be beautiful, and unfortunately, we’re taught to idolize an unattainable standard of beauty.
As someone who truly appreciates makeup, I can’t help but to be saddened by this whole ordeal. I wear makeup because it’s a way for me to express my creativity and artistic side. I enjoy watching beauty tutorials and seeing the transformation take place before me. I wear makeup because it makes me feel good about myself, and I believe it enhances my natural beauty. Yes, compliments are great, but I’ve learned very quickly that it’s foolish to base my self-worth on other’s opinions.
As someone who suffers with acne, I can truly sympathize with VanPevenage. If having acne doesn’t make someone insecure enough, imagine having the whole world scrutinize you for something that’s out of your control. I don’t think I could be as brave as VanPevenage and let someone snap a picture of me when my skin is breaking out. Although it’s taken a considerable amount of time, I’ve learned how to feel confident in my own skin. I’ve also learned that whenever I’m feeling insecure, it’s more important for me to focus on my inner beauty than my outer beauty.
Someone once told me that it cost zero dollars to be nice to someone. Although it’s somewhat of a silly point, it’s a good one. Why don’t we spend more time building one another up than tearing each other down? There are many things in life that are out of our control. And our natural appearance is one of them. We need to lift one another up instead of tearing each other down, and the best way to start is with the people you run across daily. So dear reader, I challenge you to say one genuinely nice thing about someone’s appearance today. You could honestly be making that person’s day.