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I have four makeup bags.
Four bags of things to make my face look different. They take up 2/3 of a really big cupboard in my bathroom.
In my purse, you’ll find no less than a dozen chapsticks, lip glosses, lipsticks and probably a perfume.
I have an entire cupboard dedicated to hair products. Don’t even get me started on hair products. I have quick hair products for days I don’t want to mess around with it, I have hair cremes, hair serums, hair masks, mousse, gel, spray, spray gel, leave in conditioner, regular conditioner, shampoo, oils, natural hair butters, combs, brushes, barrettes, headbands, hair ties, hair clips, round brushes, regular brushes and two hair dryers a flat iron and two curling irons.
I have a shelf of different body lotions. Some firm, some smooth, some even out, some hide wrinkles, others hide stretch marks, some shimmer, some give a pop of color, some smell like fruit, some smell like flowers.
I have a medicine cabinet with toners, washes, cleansers, face lotions, eye potions, removers and tweezers. And a toothbrush.
I have six different deodorants/ antiperspirants where their use varies based on my activities for the day and how well I think it will match my perfume and or body lotion combination.
I have a basket overflowing with nail polish.
I have invested in making myself look different.
I was born with naturally curly hair, big blue eyes, full lips and ears that stick out. As I grew up, I had all of those things and became, what my Yia Yia’s friend Em called “curvy”. So, when I grew hips and boobs, I tried to downplay those, too.
At 32, I can say that I have spent more time trying to downplay my features than just accepting them and being myself.
Anyone who knows me even a little bit can tell you that when it comes to being an individual, I’ve got the personality portion of the competition spot on. I know my personality inside and out - - I know what I’m good at, I know what I’m bad at, I know what I’m afraid of, I know when my pride gets the better of me - - I know my mind, but I don’t know my body.
From 16 to 23 I straightened my hair. Every day of my life, without exaggeration, I showered, washed my hair and straightened it. If it rained, if it was humid, if there was any precipitation or moisture in the least, it was all for naught. Those few minutes where I had the personal satisfaction of having hair like the majority of women was worth the calluses on my thumbs, the burn marks on my scalp, forehead and ears and worth the two hours of sleep I’d forego to achieve straight hair.
I started plucking my eyebrows when I was 18. I spent the night at my best friends house, she was plucking her eyebrows and asked if she could pluck mine. So, I let her. I’ve spent the better part of fourteen years plucking them and then letting them grow back because I messed them up. Once, on a job interview, after being told I’d gotten the job, the hiring manager said “I’ve got to ask you one question… What happened to your eyebrows?” Yep. I didn’t know what I was doing with my eyebrows but plucking them made me feel like I was somehow fitting in with women across the globe. My eyebrows did not fit in anywhere on the globe.
When I was 22, I had to get glasses. What a blow to the ego. I am deathly afraid of contacts so, I’m stuck with glasses and as a photographer, accurate eyesight is kind of a big deal. So, glasses. Those are on my face now.
My weight has fluctuated since I was 18, too. I’ve been super duper skinny and super duper not skinny. I’ve had years where I could live off taco bell and caffeine and never gain a pound and years where I could eat an air sandwich and water and look like a pregnant milk cow. I work out, I don’t work out, I eat healthy, I don’t eat healthy, it doesn’t matter. My waistline is just gonna do what it’s gonna do and I’m just gonna have to get on board with it.
My boobs are not in the same geographical location that they were in when I was in my 20’s. In fact, they started shifting from what I can only assume is gravitational force due to their mass, when I was about 27. One day, I put on a halter top that I could typically wear sans bra and all of a sudden, the girls lived one floor down from where they lived the summer before. So, that has been an uphill battle - - In the most literal sense.
I have a high waist and long legs which means hip hugger anything is out of the question. In fact, most pants and skirts and shorts are out of the question for me. But wait, there’s more. I have a short torso, so, super long shirts, tank tops etc., look ridiculous on me. And my arms are super gigantic long. So, most 3/4 length sleeve shirts end up looking like long short sleeves on me.
I guess the point of this verbal purge is that I’m not a super model. I don’t wake up looking incredible. I need work just to look mediocre.
Most days I wake up, drink coffee, shower, put some stuff in my hair, squeeze the water out so it’s not dripping and then drive to work - - With my air vents blowing on my hair to dry it. Most days I wear jeans, tee shirts, have my hair pulled up in the same messy twist and my face doesn’t have a stitch of makeup on. I’m usually still scraping eye crispies out during my first cup of coffee.
Most days, I’m just myself, which is a thirty two year old woman.
I have a couple gray hairs, I have some wrinkles, I don’t get enough sleep. I’m normal.
If there’s one thing I am, it’s opinionated.
I started being scolded at a young age about discussing things like self image, body image, weight, etc. I was taught not to question, just to follow.
Women wear make up, dresses, they don’t talk back, they don’t question, they don’t do the jobs that boys do, their number one goal is to look pretty and run a household.
Why can’t I take my shirt off like the boys when they’re building my swing set (age 5)? It’s hot. I’m sweaty. That’s why they took their shirts off. It started young.
I’ve been challenging gender stereotypes since I was a small child. I didn’t want to play with barbies, I wanted to play army with my brother. I didn’t want to play dress up, I wanted to play with legos and the erector set.
I didn’t want to do things just because they were pink or blue. I wanted to do things because they were just things that I liked to do.
Same goes for my outward appearance.
I went out on a date once, after meeting a guy on my birthday at a crowded bar. It was one of those days where I thought I was looking sassy with my straight hair. When I met up with the guy for the date, my hair was curly - - “What’s going on with your hair?” he asked.
"That’s just how it is." I replied.
And that’s it. It was really that singular moment where I was like “This is just how it is.” This is just how I am. I am shaped like this. I am built like this. I like what I like, I have the hair that I have. I have the genetics that I was born with.
My actual being - - Who I am on a scientific level - - Is just how it is.
And I’m good with that. I don’t fucking lose any sleep over it. I used to, but now, whatever.
There are women who wear tons of make up - - who are unrecognizable without it. There are women who refuse to say their real age. How exhausting to go through your life feeling somehow as if who you are is actually not as good as what you work so hard for others to see!?
How exhausting to spend hours, days, weeks of our lives stressing out over what we look like to other people as opposed to being happy in our skin for ourselves?!
Ten years ago when I said “That’s just how it is” I didn’t get it, completely. It took me a while to really understand what “That’s just how it is” meant.
I don’t wear a lot of make up and that’s just how it is. I don’t care if you can’t tell I have eyelashes because they’re mostly blonde. I don’t care if you can see blemishes or scars. I don’t care if my lips aren’t rose colored and shiny. I don’t care if my skin looks sun kissed or my hair looks like it was grown in a shampoo commercial. I don’t care if people judge me for that shit because I don’t judge me for that shit - - And I’m what matters.
That’s the message women, teenagers, little girls - - Every woman born from here unto eternity needs to know.
My four nieces are beautiful. They are all completely different from one another and they are all perfect exactly as they are. That’s what they need to be taught. Not that pink is prettier than blue or that curled hair with bows is better than regular hair in a ponytail.
That they are okay as is and that they should be proud of who they are as human beings and little women.
To them, that is the role model I want to be. I want to be Aunt Tine who can sell auto parts, sell dirt, camp, draw, write, take pictures, run a tree service, bake like a maven, rock a false eyelash and fix a car. I want them to see Aunt Tine who always has her head held high, even in the face of adversity - - Even when there are people saying that she can’t. I want to be the Aunt Tine who works through hardships instead of expecting others to care for me. I want them to see Aunt Tine with no make up, acting silly, making funny faces and unafraid of just being a happy person who enjoys the life that I have been given.
You are what matters. You are what makes you happy. You are beautiful and perfect and lovely exactly how you are at this very minute and a hundred years from now, you will still be that beautiful and perfect and lovely.
You don’t need to hide. You are not more or less valid as a human being because you do or do not wear makeup or because you do or do not play with Barbies. Do what makes you comfortable - - Do what makes you happy. Above all, don’t conform just to conform.
Don’t do it just because it’s what is done and what has been done for years. Don’t be someone that society tells you that you have to be.
Life is so much more wonderful and incredible when you aren’t caught up in all of the superficial bullshit that people run their time around.
Did you know that there are currently 300K residents in Detroit who could not afford to pay their water bills so the Detroit Water Department shut their water off weeks ago?
I get not being able to pay bills and that sometimes that means you have things shut off - - Cable, internet, lights, water, it’s all been shut off on me at one point or another.
But we live in the United States - - Further, we live in the only state surrounded by more fresh water than we know what to do with and in this state, we are allowing a company to deny people a basic need because they can’t afford it.
Our country is currently shipping water overseas. We’re helping people build clean wells and helping them gain access to clean drinking water because we say that we subscribe to the idea that clean water is a basic human need and right. Unless you’re in Detroit.
Detroit Water Department has, for many years, been charging incredibly high prices for water in some of the poorest areas in our state. Water should not be a business, it should not be a monopoly. We should not hold water over the heads of people who cannot afford to pay insanely high prices for it, as if to shame them further for having financial troubles.
I understand what it’s like to have trouble paying bills and anyone with city water knows that the water rates everywhere are steep - - Why isn’t there more outrage at the City of Detroit? Why aren’t more people pissed off at the Detroit Water Department? Is it because it’s poor people in Detroit? They don’t count? They’re less than you? Less than me?
We’re equal. We all deserve clean, safe, affordable water. If we can’t provide that in this country, we have some serious problems
It’s weird to me, the idea of “soul mates” and that people say that they’ve found that. It’s a strange idea to begin with, but to assume that of all of the people on the planet, your soul mate happened to be, in more cases than not, in the same county or town as you - - Rather even in the same high school as you… I mean… Those are incredible odds.
Finding one person to spend the rest of your life with, to me, is just a really weird idea. I mean, I get it. I’m in the search, too, I suppose. So, I understand why we do it, I understand how it works and the purpose it serves but isn’t it a strange concept? That we somehow got it in our minds that the entire purpose of our existence is to find a person to make a life with, reproduce and make more people who do the same exact thing.
That makes me question how we are advancing, if we continue to do the same thing - - But we do, somehow, advance. And then sometimes we don’t, I guess the term “advance” is relative, like everything else.
What if our purpose was to just like… Plant trees or something really totally the opposite of what we’re all doing? It’s weird to me that we just seem to believe that we have it figured out - - you know? Our purpose. That after being on the planet for what amounts to a blip of time, really, we have developed conscious thought and figured out the entire purpose of life, based loosely on a belief system of some sort, that we then fight about because we want the freedom to be different but then we don’t want people to be different because we have it figured out. It’s kind of cyclic, right?
And in the process of figuring it out, we also believe that there is one single person on this planet that we were meant to be with and they just happened to be alive at the same time as us, around the same age as us and what luck, in the same relative space as us.
I don’t know what the point of it all is, but there is so much more in the world to think about and do and be - - But that is what we all inherently strive for, more or less, acceptance by another person that will have an emotion strong enough toward us that will afford us the comfort of their tolerance for the rest of our existence.