Beauty Advice to my 16-year-old Self
Every day I put on my eyebrows. Every day, with a very steady hand and a light cosmetic mirror, I have to carefully reconstruct the eyebrows I destroyed as a teenager. I used to have the most beautiful, glorious eyebrows. And now, I just have pathetic and uneven commas. Had I only known…
Sometimes I daydream of the kind of high-school reunion that teen movies are made of. I was such a dork in high school. Growing up in foster care, I never had any money to look cool and definitely lacked social skills. I lived with a family during my teen years that was nothing but trauma and drama, so in addition to all the normal strangeness of being a teenager, I was also coping with very out-of-the-ordinary home life situations. Simply put, my teen years sucked way more than most. (Not saying yours didn't suck too, just sayin' Bravo would have a heyday with my story.)
Now my skin has cleared up, I grew into my own kind of beauty as a woman, and I’m thankful to be pretty successful. A couple years ago I fully planned on arriving to our 10 year reunion- fit, tan, bigger boobs (thanks to a great bra, no surgery!), and very pretty. I was going to pull out all the tricks in my makeup bag to make sure that I turned heads. Every girl who sneered at me, every boy who made fun of me, every teacher who felt sorry for me… I was going to show them! Especially the one who nicknamed me Mili The Cow. And then, the reunion fell apart because most of our “class” still doesn’t have any class, and rather than waste a perfectly good weekend trying to impress people who didn’t care about me 10 years ago, I skipped it.
Never have I given much this thought to what I would do differently if I knew when I was 16 what I know now about being beautiful. But, I was reminded of my youthful mistakes when I noticed one of my eyebrows had smeared slightly after a very long day. If I could sit my socially awkward, very poor, acne ridden self down and have a chat with her, this is what I’d say.
Wear as much purple and blue mascara as you can. Eventually, you’ll be regulated to browns and beige’s and warm tones and things that a grown woman is expected to wear to look natural and flawless. (Just so ya know, there’s nothing natural about being flawless.) Sure, no one is going to stop you if you really want to wear purple or blue mascara as a grown up, but people will judge you differently. And judgment doesn’t end when the cliques break up at graduation. It just turns into something different, less obvious, and actually affects you more when you’re grown up. So pile on the color while you can, love your vivid lashes and have fun with color in your makeup. Unless you grow up to be a professional makeup artist, this may be the only time in your life you can get away with it. Live it up!!
Don’t dye your hair black. EVER. Besides the fact that artificially true black hair looks good on only a very few people, it’s a nightmare to get rid of. Without your parents or you forking out hundreds of dollars for a professional hairdresser to fix it, you’re going to end up ruining your hair and probably having to chop it all off. Instead, head right on over to Hot Topic (you know you love that store anyways) and pick out every color of the rainbow and dye your hair that. Go pink, go green, go purple, go crazy! Put three or four or five in at once! It will wash out in a few weeks, so it’s all good.
Let the professionals handle your eyebrows and keep them thick. Just trust me on this one. You may not realize it, but the day will come when you won’t dive underwater when you’re swimming in the ocean for fear of your eyebrows coming off. If your brows do need to be waxed or tweezed, let a pro do it and save your future exotic vacation beach photo’s from eyebrow disaster.
Don’t share makeup with anyone you wouldn’t make out with. If you’re not willing to swap spit with your BFF, then don’t swap lipgloss or mascara. You can catch all kinds of not-so-prettiness from shared makeup, and especially eye makeup. And I hate to break it to you, but teenage girls aren’t much cleaner than teenage boys. But, if you’re kissing someone anyways, I suppose you’ve already got whatever they have. If you ain’t sharing saliva, don’t share makeup.
Sun damage lasts way longer than a tan. Sun damage is like an exam that’s really, really far away. You think you got this, you think it’s no big deal, and then bam! It’s exam day. Only, the exam you will have will be in a dermatologists office and the price you pay will be far more than a bad grade. A few years ago I did a series of three facial treatments that were $450 each. It was painful, expensive, and pretty bloody. You probably do better math than I do, (I still haven't used algebra as an adult) so you already know how many prom and homecoming dresses that works out to be. Wear loads of 50 SPF sunscreen no matter what.
Don’t get facial piercings. Except maybe your nose, if you’re parents say it’s OK. But lip, eyebrow, snake bites? Believe me, you are going to regret having those holes in your face. Most employers won’t let you wear jewelry in them anyways. You’ll basically wander around 5 days a week with a saggy hole in your face and only wear jewelry on the weekends- which, at some point in your life, you’ll probably not think is so cool. Get those fake jewelry pieces and call it good. Oh! And while I’m at it, skip the tongue piercing. Your employer will make you take that out too, and the hole will close up, but that will be a good thing- it can damage your teeth, and nice teeth are important to be beautiful.
I know that you are growing up in a day and age where being unique is a big deal and you think that “judgment” is so not cool. You think that when you grow up, you’ll be able to do all this stuff that grown-ups never let you do before. But, when you grow up, you’re going to be playing by a different set of rules, and if you break the rules, you’ll be a different kind of ground. That’s not to say that being an adult is all boring and bad- you can make it pretty amazing! I love my life much more now than I did when I was 16. The best way to explain is this: If you play soccer, you wouldn’t show up to the game in skinny jeans. Sure, if you really want to “express yourself”, you could, but the referee is probably going to bench you. The trick with beauty is to play by the rules enough so that you don’t get benched and still can play the game. But, my sweet, awkward 16-year-old self, you are not IN the game yet. So wear whatever you want! Wear it all, wear none of it, wear color! The only beauty rule you need to listen to right now is to keep everything you do temporarily. As long as it disappears with a few washes, go for it. Don’t hold back. Be unique. Take beauty risks. Explore who you are and what you love. There’s plenty of time for all that other seriousness later. That’s why they let you have wine when you grow up- it helps you get over the fact that you're not wearing blue mascara.