Best Face Forward7:30 AM
Inevitably, sometime in your life, you will run across a beauty-conscious female. Inevitably, sometime in your life, you will run across a beauty-obsessive female. You will recognize said females if they happen to run to the bathroom upon seeing your car drive up, to brush their hair one last time or throw on a more company-suitable shirt. They'll play with their hair to make sure it stays just so. They'll discreetly run their tongue over their teeth in hopes that no broccoli casserole lodged itself between the pearly whites. They'll pick at their clothes to keep them smooth and perfect.
And they'll do that the entire time the social gathering lasts.
Yes, indeed. These girls like to put their best faces forward.
Some of us were born with handicaps to that goal, like big noses or a propensity to unphotogenicness or a habit of spilling supper on our skirts, and we must make allowances and work around those crippling features in order to trick people into thinking we're always mostly put together. See, the key is that we don't have to be perfect all the time. We realize that in ourselves, we're most likely not going to look beautiful always, or at least not perfectly. The goal is that when it counts, we look good -- as good as we can. If we can't be the most beautiful girl in the room, we can at least be the best beauty that we can be.
We put our best face forward.
It's less of an insecurity and more of vanity, actually: it's a selfish, look-at-how-beautiful-I-can-be type of thing -- not an "I have to look absolutely perfect so that I can fit in." Of course, there's occasionally that element. Of course there is.
But no matter how pretty the girl (and I've met some drop-dead-gorgeous sisters in my lifetime), there's always a concern for more: more skinny, more big eye, more thick hair, more tan, fewer freckles. I talked to my middle school campers about beauty, and even the girls you knew were confident, you knew were pretty, you knew were almost perfect, they found imperfection in themselves. Really, the standard belief about beauty among womankind is that it's transient. It's always dangling just a bit higher than our manicured fingertips can reach.
If we shed pounds, we've got to fix the frizzy hair. If we fix the frizzy hair, we've got to work on our acne. Et cetera and ad nauseam.
You get the picture I'm painting? Perhaps you could have modeled for me. In that case, we would have been great friends.
Though I would be the first to say, "Yes, I'm totally comfortable in my skin, literally," I still had a (slight, mind you) obsession with looking the best I could be -- with putting on my prettiest face.
You see, I've never been too concerned with personal ugliness, at least not to the point of worry and obsession and Botox. I know I have a big nose and perhaps my smile's a bit crooked: I'm not going to end up a finalist on Miss America, if you get my meaning. And I'm okay with that. I can survive knowing I didn't get all the facial proportions of beauty.
But comforting me in my affliction of ordinariness were my eyes. Through thick and thin, through self-consciousness and self-confidence, I always liked my eyes. They were blue-ish. They were biggish. And I liked blinking at myself in the mirror. They were nicely functional that way, too.
Funny thing happened the other day. I was practicing four-part harmony with my sisters, banging away at the piano, oblivious to anything beyond notes and warbly voices, when Hannah gasped.
"BAILEY. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYE?"
Immediately the other two leant in to peer.
"OH MY GOODNESS," cried calm Bethany.
I was necessarily concerned and made quick use of a mirror. They had been gawking at a little puffiness over my right eye. It was a shrug-shoulder moment for me. I just figured I'd put off taking senior photos until the minor swelling went down. No harm done -- though I dreamed of puffy lines taking over my body that night. When it became imperative that I wake, I sat up and tried to blink my heavy eyes.
"Bethany." (We have top bunks across the room from each other and hold early morning conversations on them.) "Does my eye look better?"
She squinted. "OH MY GOODNESS. YOUR EYE."
Clapping a hand over the offending sight, I found the bathroom mirror and came face to face with this:
Not exactly the best pretty face I've ever managed. Just sayin'.
But it struck me as so ironic: we ladies spend so much time primping, place so much value on pretty faces, and none of it's going to last. We're going to age. We're going to wear laugh marks and worry lines into our skin. We just might wake up one day with our right eye swollen shut.
Don't laugh. You might.
Just for kickers, I like to ask the mirror what I'm going to look like at thirty, forty, sixty. My aging, I've decided, certainly isn't going to be a beautiful sight. It makes me laugh, some days. It makes me cringe. But the hard fact of life is rosy cheeks are going to pale, skin will crinkle, eyes will dim, and what's going to make me remarkable is what I've done with my wrinkled hands, not the fact that I have fairy feet or big blue eyes.
It made me do a double-take: how much do I place on putting my best face forward when a little bug bite or a leftover sinus infection can ruin it in an instant?
I mean, I don't care how much mascara or eye shadow you put on that thing. I was going to look like this guy and no mistake.
|We call him SpongeBob. Say hi.|
Nope. I hadn't changed that much, even with the new expansions going on below my eyebrow.
It made me regret every time I'd looked at someone's outward appearance and made a character judge of them. If a stranger came across my paths, his second reaction (after mixed pity, horror and involuntary stomach churning) wouldn't exactly pin me in a too-favorable category. It's purely human nature.
How ridiculous that we judge a person based on their outward appearance...when it really has zero effect on his personality.
My beauty isn't going to last. It isn't an eternal part of me. It doesn't shape my character or earn my math grades or grow me closer to God. For all the marketing potential of beauty, it isn't worth that much to my ultimate goals in life (thank goodness I don't want to be a movie star).
So I laughed at my temporary blight, and I laughed that it made my heartless siblings laugh. There's so much more to life than putting one's best face forward. It's such a waste to pin hopes and heart on transient things.
Take it from someone who had to face the world abnormally for a day.