I’m Cassidy Jackson. I’m seventeen years old and I don’t wear makeup. Whether it be the “blemish” concealers, the mascaras that supposedly fix “flawed” stub-like lashes or the lip plumpers that make girls look like their lips are permanently fixed in duck face. None of those products have touched this beautiful face, and no, it’s not because the genetic gods blessed me with everything society says I “need."
My lashes aren’t unbelievably long, but nonetheless, they’re pretty. I have acne here and there (like the majority of angsty teens), but it doesn’t phase me. My skin doesn’t have a matte finish because it’s skin. Sometimes it’s oily. Sometimes it’s as dry as a bowl of pasta without sauce. It’s unpredictable to the point where I feel like every morning, I metaphorically shake a magic 8-ball. “How will my skin be today?” I ask, and I’m greeted by one of three answers: “Your skin is hot as heck” (which, not gonna lie, I’ve grown to feel this one quite a lot), “ehhhh” (aka not terrible but not great) and “utterly horrendous,” which usually is a result of my own doing.
Needless to say, I wasn’t gifted with genetic gold in most people’s terms, but I’ve come to believe that I am pure gold.
Believing that we're beautiful without a face full of makeup is like believing in the tooth fairy for some of us, and it makes sense why. In today's society, the pressure put on young women is bigger than ever. Whether it be makeup ads and commercials playing off our flaws or social media presenting us with unachievable images day in and day out. We're set up for failure. It's sad to say, but as young women, we are made to feel as though we're not enough.
Playing off young women's insecurities is a marketing strategy. And the makeup industry is the number one perpetrator of this scheme, making us feel like we're not enough and in turn, NEED a product to make us feel as though we are. Our eyebrows aren't enough. Our stubby lashes aren't enough. Our oily skin isn't enough. Our dry skin isn't enough. Our thin lips aren't enough.
And that’s why I’ve sworn off makeup.
Because I refuse to feed into the industry that deems what’s TRULY natural (acne, skin discoloration, wrinkles, eye bags and so on) as flaws. Those aren’t flaws, ladies and gentlemen. It’s life! I distinctly remember when I was about 11 years old, I was sitting on my couch watching TV (probably Kenan and Kel, knowing me), and a makeup ad popped up. The commercial was showcasing a middle aged woman (looking unrealistically youthful) advertising anti-aging cream. I don’t know why it stuck with me. I think it was because my 11-year-old self couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of “anti-aging.” I remember thinking to myself, “I guess being a vampire is all the rage now.”
It baffled me then and still baffles me now that the makeup industry is guilting women into believing they aren’t beautiful unless they fix BLANK, BLANK and BLANK.
We as women constantly run through products, searching for foundations that perfectly match our skin tone, eyebrow fillers that appear natural and blushes that blend in, but instead, we need to bask in the brilliance of us. Sure, your face won’t be picture perfect, but pimples aren’t a crime and wrinkles aren’t a malfunction. They’re normal. The list of “imperfections” women deal with includes pimples, stretch marks, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dryness, oily skin, eye bags, big pores, unfilled eyebrows and more. From experience, I’ve learned that accepting them, rather than concealing them, is incredibly empowering.
Growing up, my biggest insecurities were the acne scars that fell all across my clavicle, upper back and forehead. This was a gene I know 100 percent was passed to me from my lovely father. Thanks, Dad! For the longest time, I let that insecurity control me. You would never catch me wearing v-necks, scoop necks, tanks, anything that revealed my acne scars. And for awhile, I felt like everyone was staring at the acne scar on my forehead. In my head, they were disgusting. I let the makeup industry taint my perception of self. I thought that “skin is supposed to be baby bottom smooth, clear and soft.” It was engulfing me.
And then, I just got sick of it. Sick of basing my outfit choices around my acne and sick of wanting to walk through my high school halls with my hand covering my forehead. Genetics gave them to me, so I decided to embrace them.
Another insecurity I’ve dealt with is my unibrow. All the kids nowadays chant “brows on fleek,” and for the longest time, I thought my eyebrows, or eyebrow rather, was anything but on fleek. I would wrestle with my unibrow in the mirror, pout and say to my mom, “I hate my unibrow. I want to get the middle waxed.” And every single time, my mom would reply, “No, your unibrow is so cute, and you will regret waxing it, just like I do.” Over time, my unibrow opinion began to shift to my mom’s point of view. I started to see my unibrow in a positive light, and I don’t think I’ll ever wax my eyebrow into two. My unibrow is unique to me.
Insecurities are normal, but with effort, you can release your negative mentality towards your features. There’s nothing more freeing than just letting it go. Not wearing makeup altogether or taking makeup free days forces you to look at yourself in the mirror and love yourself the way you are. Makeup, whether or not we like to admit it, creates a false sense of self and puts unrealistic expectations on us as women. By no means am I saying that people who wear cosmetics are all insecure beings, but the majority of us use makeup to compensate for something. Don’t fall into the slippery trap of relying on it. Look at your acne scars as stories, your eye bags as marks that show you’ve been at “work, work, work, work, work” as Rihanna ballads and your wrinkles as signs of wisdom.
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