Maturation At It's Finest
“There’s no such thing as having too many lipsticks.” -Sephora
I was such a makeup and fashion fanatic that on the first day of high school I looked like Cleopatra walking in six inch red heels. Hair straightener, olive shade face powder, and black mascara were my Holy Grail of beauty products. Orange anything was never an option and Seventeen magazine was the last word on any decision I made. Though I was not a professional makeup artist, my fourteen year old mind had given me the impression that I was, simply because I was able to follow directions on makeup tutorials from my favorite beauty gurus on YouTube. Disney gave me the notion that the most important concerns in high school would be fashion and who were crowned prom king and queen. Sticking with those beliefs, I dedicated my freshman year entirely to looking “flawless”. Being an amateur at fashion and makeup did not bother me; it only made me more curious and more easily influenced by any and all fashion rules that I could have seen anywhere. “On Wednesdays we wear pink!” was a rule from the movie Mean Girls that I actually followed. Though I could not exactly explain why I was so engrossed with fashion, I just wanted to look like I came fresh off the runway; catwalking my way to class every day. Despite the fact that I was only fourteen, my thirst for the “perfect look” trumped everything else.
“My life is going to change once I do the Color IQ foundation shade test.” -Sephora
During my sophomore year, I was truly a “wise fool.” I assumed that I knew everything about everything, especially fashion, because I had been in high school for a whole year. Even though I assumed I was an expert at all things fashion-related, I still couldn’t manage to look like Disney’s Princess Jasmine. Still just fifteen years old, I spent countless hours staring at my reflection, scrutinizing myself, and worrying about how to get rid of my acne scars and blemishes. I suffered for the sake of attaining the “perfect body.” Attempting to attain the “ideal figure,” I exhausted myself both mentally and physically. By the end of sophomore year, I had spent innumerable hours fantasizing about having the ideal body and life and lamenting, “If only.” Eventually, my facade of physical beauty started to crack due to the ostracization I experienced from my fellow classmates; despite what I thought of myself, my classmates ridiculed me for my poor taste in fashion and makeup.
￼“Nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” -Hamlet
Fall rolled around next year, and I went to school with my face painted on reluctantly. I did not feel like myself; instead, I was a kindergartener trapped in a sixteen-year-old body. I was lost in the jungle that was school and my inner self. Now a junior, I started to question my actions. I began to reflect internally, asking myself, “Why do I do what I do?” I wanted so badly to be good, to do good, and to look good that I thought they were the key to feeling good. But why was beauty my main motivator?” Then I realized that the answer was right in front of me, or more specifically, behind me.
Born as an Indian girl into a Hindu family residing in the United States, the idea of makeup and fashion was never really considered. The only factors that mattered in life were school and family. But when I saw the movie Aladdin, I became exposed to society’s view of beauty through Princess Jasmine. Through Disney I saw perfection. Though I was only six years old, I had internalized numerous assumptions about the female image from the pop culture I had consumed, Disney in particular. Like the movies did, I learned to judge people based on their looks, not character. In hopes of transforming into Princess Jasmine, Halloween was dedicated to hours of straightening hair, applying makeup and multiple costume changes in hopes of becoming her. Through the power of makeup, I achieved my desired look. I soon realized that makeup had the capability to hide my flaws and blemishes and enhance my beauty. Soon, applying makeup was almost a religious practice. Though I wanted to go au-natural, my insecurities had defeated me. At school my bare face was not accepted. Students commented on my attire and makeup, pushing me into boxes and groups. At lunch, students were divided based off of popularity and attractiveness; I fell into the dreaded “nerd” category. Between social media and school, I received the impression that to look like a model was the bare minimum. Ashamed of my body I started crying. “Why is beauty so important? Am I not pretty? Why is life not fair? ”
“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.” -William Shakespeare
But life isn’t fair. Society and pop culture force impossible standards of beauty on everyone. Yet even though I was heavily influenced by pop culture, the real reason why I wanted to look attractive was that I was paralyzed by the fear of failure. All my life I wanted to look “beautiful” and “pretty,” but the real reason why I wanted to look like an idealized version of me was because I sought approval. I wanted to be accepted by society, and I thought that to look like a model was the solution. Through Kant’s theory of aesthetics, I realized that all beauty
is subjective, and that beauty is not the most vital factor in life. I realized that everyone has different measurements and traits, but that does not define who they are. I realized that there is more to life than just beauty. I chose to disregard beauty as determining factor and live the life wish to live. My past experiences have changed my perception of the world. In hopes of spreading my experience and inspiring students to embrace their natural beauty, I gave at TED talk at Houston. By doing so, I was able to inspire people on my story and change their view on themselves and the world. I am now seventeen years old and I am a senior. I now see beauty in everything, from the wrinkles of the elderly that depict stories to the vast cultures of the world. I have opened my eyes to see the world, not just media. For as Confucius says, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it.”