Beauty in the general sense of the word which often entails a woman putting on makeup and dressing a certain way, was intimidating to me for as long as I can remember. I grew up with a strong association as ‘the ugly duckling’ of the family. Not only was I not great at studies and/or sports but I was not a ‘cute’ child either. Frizzy hair and dusky skin was not taken to kindly at school. This years of conditioning made me so certain that I was so not beautiful that any complement was met with indifference at my end.
It’s only when I started traveling esp. when I went to the other side of the world and met people who couldn’t stop raving about skin and my hair and how beautiful I was day after day that I genuinely started believing that beauty is a flawed idea. I may not be pretty in my home country where beauty standards look a certain way but it doesn’t mean I view myself like that because I know that I am beautiful somewhere else. A play where beauty standards look like mine.
I have such strong sense of myself now, it’s hard for an individual to make me feel less of an individual now. Here are a few things I do that in my minimalist life that makes me feel pretty everyday.
I have never really understood the use of an extensive line-up of products. The closest I have come to is now when I use a concealer/foundation occasionally and a lipstick that was a gift.
I travelled with kohl for years and used it when I wanted to feel prettier than usual but I haven’t used it in months and the other day I tried it, it looked strange on my face. So, I’m letting go of kohl.
I have never travelled with nail paint and haven’t applied any in years. Whatever we do for a long time, we get used to that appearance. The idea of painted nails on me seems odd to me now.
I am fairly experimental with my haircuts. From going all bald in 2017 to growing it my longest length in 2021, I have tried a few hairstyles in between.
Going bald really helped me disassociate beauty with hair. While great hair does make a difference, I noticed the absence of it does not automatically make you ‘not beautiful’.
As a minimalist I have very few clothes, mostly in black. I feel beautiful in clothes that I choose and that’s not meant to please anyone which means it’s well used, soft, and weather appropriate.
Some of the things that have changed in my dressing that I have been told adds to my appearance is the confidence. I no longer try to hide my bra strap, pull my t-shirt down while sitting. I also repurpose my clothes quite a bit. I’ll cut my shorts shorter, shorten my trousers to give rougher edges, knot my t-shirts, etc.
The first time I got my eyebrows done in a parlour was when I was 22 and it was one of the most painful experiences I had volunteered for. It hurt so much, I avoided my visits as much as I could. Before going to a parlour and in between these visit, I use a tweezer. I travel with one and pick strays every few weeks.
As an Indian woman, I don’t get cute little barely visible blonde hair on my body, it’s a fully functional forest. But after my threading experience, I developed a fear of parlours. I have never gotten waxing done. I just use a razor when I need.
I did get laser hair reduction done for my underarms so I could wear sleeveless tops more often and I really like it. I do appreciate women who are nonchalant about their hairy underarms but as a single woman I already attract a fair bit of attention so I try to be as invisible as I can.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself looking a lot more beautiful on the days I’m feeling great. The pictures from dark days just seem so cold (inspite of the fake laughter), I just don’t like them. I also tend t start losing weight when I’m upset and it doesn’t look healthy on me.
Happiness is the ‘not-so-secret’ sauce to beauty I would say.