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How One Mirror Showed Me The Real Truth About Beauty

"If you remember nothing else, always remember the number one most important rule of beauty, which is: Who cares?"

Krystie Yandoli / Via BuzzFeed

8:33 a.m.: Crap. I slept through all three of my alarms (or maybe I didn't, maybe I woke up for a second, turned them off, and I just don't remember). Now I only have 30 minutes to get ready before I should be at work.

8:35 a.m.: The silver lining is, I'm staying at my friend's apartment while she's away, so instead of commuting an hour and then some like I normally do, I have a short subway ride to my office. I throw my covers off, jump out of bed, and hop in the shower.

I'm really not a morning person. I never have been, and at this point in my life I've mastered the art of getting ready pretty swiftly. Time is precious and every minute counts; I've learned to negotiate what is most important and prioritize certain things in my morning routine. For example, there's no need to take a shower that lasts longer than 10 minutes, so after two songs play on my Drake Pandora station, I grab a towel and get moving.

8:45 a.m.: I let my long, wet hair dry naturally. I never spend much time on my fairly low-maintenance hair since it dries straight and simply with me barely having to touch it (thanks for the genes, Mom).

8:47 a.m.: I throw on an outfit that I picked out the night before and look around for a mirror so I can put on my makeup. I don't wear heavy makeup on a regular basis, mostly because I don't know how to do it well, but every day I usually put on a light layer of foundation, eye makeup, and maybe some lipstick if I'm feeling ambitious.

8:49 a.m.: After quickly scanning the room, I discover a full-length mirror next to the bathroom door. I pull a chair up and start feeling around my makeup bag for my tube of black mascara. That's when I notice something; I can't see myself clearly in the mirror because my friend has written something on it: "If you remember nothing else, always remember the number one most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?"

The Tina Fey quote stares me right in the face, as I'm sure it's meant to. I'm forced to see it, read it, confront, and absorb it — I don't have a choice but to acknowledge its existence.

Hmph, I guess I never thought about it like that before.

Who cares if I wear makeup today? My co-workers? A guy walking on the street I might think is cute? If they're all shallow enough to judge me based on how much makeup I'm wearing, who cares what they think, anyway?

Who cares if I brush an extra layer of powder on top of my face to hide a small breakout of pimples that only I notice anyway? Who cares if I use blush to make my cheeks pinker or bronzer to look like I spent a weekend in the sun? Who cares if I put black mascara on my eyelashes to make them thicker and darker? Who cares if I paint my lips bright pink or dark red depending on my mood or the season?

What makes me beautiful isn't the eyeshadow I brush on my eyelids or my decision to wear or not wear lipstick. But when you get caught up in the daily monotony and beauty routines that come to feel as normal as anything else, you don't give much thought to the actual reasoning behind it. I barely have time to put my makeup on in the first place, let alone think about why I choose to do it.

Of course there are deeper, more complex and nuanced reasons why women wear makeup and uphold these beauty standards. There are larger systems at work — like the cosmetics industry, gender norms, and societal expectations, and good ol' patriarchy to name a few — that are responsible for why I feel obligated to wear makeup every morning. But on a very basic, individual level, I can still stop every once in a while and ask, who cares?

Today, I won't.

8:52 a.m.: I throw my silver mascara wand back in my makeup bag, grab my purse, and run out the door, locking it behind me. Maybe now I have time to run into Starbucks and grab a cup of coffee instead of spending 10 minutes applying makeup to my face. I put my headphones in my ears and turn on Drake Pandora again, picking up right where I left off, and walk down the street toward the subway.

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