I’ve never cared much about fashion. Or makeup. Or any sort of beauty routine.
I hate shopping for clothes. Taking longer than 15 minutes to get ready feels like a gigantic waste of time. In high school, my mom and sister thought I’d be a perfect candidate for What Not to Wear. But I brushed them aside, perfectly content with my shimmery purple jeans and cartoon character t-shirts.
Then, during my first job after college, everything changed.
In the trendy office where I worked as a web writer, it quickly became apparent that refusing to care about fashion wasn’t allowed.
Picture Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada. I was quiet, bookish, and fresh out of journalism school. Every day, I learned something new about the world of fashion. (Like that “Givenchy” is apparently pronounced “jhee-von-SHEE.” And that Louis Vuitton and Louboutins are completely different.)
One editor — bold and witty, a charismatic flurry of flawless MAC Cosmetics, gorgeous auburn hair, and perfect sarcastic zingers — graciously decided to take me under her wing.
It was time for a total makeover.
I had A LOT to learn, but she was a patient teacher, guiding me — with equal parts encouragement and snark — through every step of the makeover processes.
She introduced me to high heels …
… to colorful and cute sun dresses …
… and to the type of makeup you can’t buy at a drug store.
I loved the results. I skipped around my office in bright blue dresses with cute heels, feeling stylish and confident. I amped up my makeup routine and started highlighting my hair — taking it from dull dishwater to a near-platinum blonde.
This post-makeover look wasn’t anything I was used to, but it felt great.
When my life and job turned incredibly stressful, I started working out as often as I could. When things ended with a guy I liked, I was determined to do anything but sob over a tub of ice cream.
I made sure my makeup looked great. I dressed in all my favorite outfits. I chose an even brighter blonde for my hair. Everything around me was falling apart, but I was doing the best I could to look and feel good.
Four years later, I’m taking a different approach.
When my last relationship ended this past summer, I made a conscious effort to NOT respond by focusing on how I look. Because I don’t want to fall into the mindset that I need to look cute to be doing okay.
I don’t want to feel like how much makeup I’m wearing is proportional to how much people like me.
Or to how much I like myself.
These days, I’m not living at the gym. My hair is back to dishwater blonde–I’ve stopped highlighting it every three months. And heels kind of hurt your feet, so I mostly wear flats.
I definitely don’t regret the makeover. At 23, it helped me see myself in a new way. It motivated me to take ownership of my life — starting with how I presented myself. For someone who’d always been a bookworm, I loved proving to myself that I could focus on fashion, makeup, and having Barbie-blonde hair if I wanted to.
But I soon realized that the more you focus on the superficial, the more superficial you start to become. I’d rather people notice me for something other than what I look like. And appearance is definitely not where I want to get my value from.
Right now, I want to be okay with not wearing any makeup on weekends. I want to wear t-shirts of my favorite Pixar characters or superheroes. I don’t want to feel like I need to be platinum blonde to feel good about myself.
We’re human. It’s really easy to get our value from how we look. And I don’t have any problem with makeup, cute shoes, or fun outfits. I like knowing more about them, and I’ll have no problem with getting all dressed up occasionally. But that’s not where I want to get my value. So for now, I’m giving myself an anti-makeover.
If you need me, I’ll be watching TV in my Flash t-shirt. And having absolutely zero regrets.