Growing up, I remember her wearing makeup every single day, no matter what. She wouldn’t be caught dead without it. If she needed to go to the hospital and was in extreme pain, she’d probably make sure to put on a little makeup before leaving. She always told me that she’d get herself done up every single day even if she had no plans, because you never know if someone might show up at your house. She’d try on multiple outfits and shoes before going anywhere and stare at herself in a full length mirror, adjusting her clothes, turning side to side, wanting to make sure every angle looked perfect. She’d spend hours getting ready. She had stacks and stacks of shoes, and a closet full of clothes. I remember her shopping a lot as a kid, and it was usually for clothes, shoes, or home decor. I remember her getting angry with my father if he had someone come over and she wasn’t given enough warning to look her best. I remember her criticizing every little detail about how people or things looked. “Why is she wearing that?” “She looks frumpy and matronly.” “That outfit makes her look big.” “Her makeup looks terrible.“ “He has really packed on the weight.” “I hope I don’t age that badly”. “He looks dorkie” “What a slob”. I know now that she must’ve had self esteem issues, and picking other people apart somehow made her feel more put together.
She made me self conscious. She even started dying my hair in the second grade.
I’ve been with my husband about 10 years now. We were dating two years when we moved in together. He didn’t see me without makeup until months after we moved in together. I’d go to bed with make up on, and after he was asleep, I’d remove it and be sure to get up before him to put a little mascara and face powder on. I’d never get my hair wet when swimming, I was afraid of anyone seeing it frizz up. If I had to take a shower, I didn’t come out of the bathroom until my hair was dried and styled— over and hour, sometimes. I never wanted anyone to see me eating even, for fear I looked like a pig. I gave myself an eating disorder because I’d heard her constantly talking about her weight. I thrived on people telling me how skinny I was because I thought that meant I was taking care of my looks. Looking back at photos of myself then, I can see how sickly and underweight I looked. If I woke up late and had to get ready in a hurry, I’d be in my head all day long thinking about how awful I must look and what people must think of me. She taught me to criticize every aspect of how I looked. I was 13 when I swore I’d grow up and get plastic surgery to fix my chin, and nose, and breasts. She never seemed to be beautiful enough in her own mind, and I never learned how to accept myself and feel beautiful, either.
Although I still struggle, my husband has changed so much of how I view myself. Even in my worst state, he never hesistates to remind me how beautiful I am. He is always there and always reassuring me. I’ve come leaps and bounds from what I used to be. I wear makeup less, and no longer feel the need to curl or straighten my hair every single day. My bare face and ponytails are just fine. I wear clothes that I find comfortable, and not only what looks the best. I’m not afraid to live in the moment and enjoy things when I used to care too much what other people thought of me. My husband is teaching me how to love myself. Now I will teach my daughter to love herself. The cycle ends here.