Here's What It's Like To Reject Beauty Standards, According To The Women Who Just Said, "F*ck It"
"I never had the courage to cut my hair short until after I had my daughter."
1. "I used to feel actual shame if I left the house without makeup on, even if I was just running errands.
"I realized that this face is the only one I have, and I like it. If someone else doesn’t, it’s THEIR problem and not mine. I haven’t worn any makeup in two years, and it’s great. I’ve even gone to interviews barefaced and have been offered nearly every job. I do love makeup, but I don’t feel like I have to wear it anymore."
2. "I wanted a nose job growing up. I thought my Italian nose was way too big, and it was always an insecurity. But when I was 20, a photographer friend asked me to help him with a 'test shoot' and had me do all these poses I would NEVER have taken myself.
"As we sat there going through the photos, I literally started crying. I looked beautiful, big, bumpy nose and all. I looked like me, but free and at ease."
3. "I'd always wanted to cut my long hair short because it took forever to style and still never looked good. I usually ended up admitting defeat and just putting it up in a ponytail.
"I never had the courage to cut it until after I had my daughter. After I pushed a child out of my vagina med-free, I felt like needing to define my femininity by my hair length (or any other cultural bullshit) was really stupid. I got a pixie and I love it. I've had it for nine years now, and I never get bored because I change up the color and style all the time. No matter what I do with it (fauxhawk, curls, whatever!), I'm out the door and looking badass within 10 minutes."
4. "I stopped covering up my gray hair about five years ago, and it was so liberating.
"Now I dye my hair every couple of months with a new funky color for fun. My gray hairs make it look like I have neon highlights in an ever-changing array of colors. I absolutely love it!"
5. "I have two hip-to-hip scars and about a dozen other abdominal scars, along with pitting all around my breasts from permanent IVs and catheters. I would never wear anything even moderately revealing because I didn't want people staring at my scars.
"Eventually I got so tired of constantly being hyperaware about not showing scars that I just threw caution to the wind and stopped caring. I started wearing tank tops, crop tops, and swimsuits. I started feeling so much more confident about my body, and I've grown to be really proud of my scars. I wouldn't be alive without them, and I'm proud that they're a map of how I've come to where I am."
6. "I stopped wearing bras like seven years ago because I have a pacemaker that was implanted on the bra line underneath my left breast. Having a bra on it is super uncomfortable."
7. "I've buzzed my hair multiple times. If anything, it made me feel more like a woman. I enjoyed the freedom and the comfort, and short hair is a godsend during a summer in the South."
8. "I stopped shaving my legs about two years ago. I grow hair very fast, which meant that if I shaved in the morning, I would already have stubble that night — I would have to shave every single day if I wanted bare legs.
"It got to the point where I realized I never really showed my legs (I always wore tights with dresses or skirts, and I didn't like wearing shorts), so why bother if no one is going to see it? It felt very freeing and liberating letting my body be natural and not conforming to beauty standards."
9. "I put on a bit of weight, and some of my clothes didn't fit anymore, which was when I realized that a lot of them never fit to begin with.
"I had just been squeezing myself into them because I was determined to stay a size 8, even though I haven't really been a size 8 since I was in high school. It made me realize how much internalized fat phobia I have. Although I always thought I was 100% accepting of different body types, if I couldn't admit to myself that I'm not the same size I was when I was a literal child, how could I accept people of all shapes and sizes? It really got me thinking, and I've been working on myself and reading a lot — I recommend Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings. It's really opened my eyes."
10. "I'm ethnically mixed (Indian, English, and African), so my hair has a different type of curl texture that makes it unique, but also very difficult to maintain.
"I grew up in Asia, where natural curls are rare, and there aren't many local hair products and salons that help maintain this hair type. I always longed for the long, pin-straight hair of my friends, family, and famous women because that was my idea of beauty. But when I actually tried straightening my hair, I realized how unnatural it felt, and I missed my curls so much. I've now decided to grow my hair out and treat it properly, and I've never loved it more!"
11. "I am nonbinary and gave up beauty norms when I was 4 and a dress was forced on me for Easter.
"You learn a lot about what really matters when an article of clothing makes you want to vomit and set yourself on fire. Now in my 40s, I dress pretty androgynous. I'm 'she'/'they,' and when I do wear dresses, they are normally some off-the-norm type of garment.""
12. "I started dyeing my hair fuchsia four years ago. I’m in my forties. Since then, I feel bolder in every way. My husband says that my personality has flourished. I’m buying the outrageous clothes that I’ve always wanted to wear, and I feel happy to be me."
13. "In the '00s, fake tans were the thing. I was a pale redhead, and people would say I looked like a tourist or sick, or people would hand me cards for tanning salons. So I started going to tanning salons and the beach daily — no sunblock, sometimes with tanning oil.
"I barely tanned even then with all the effort, so a lot of risk for little result. But at 22 years old, I saw photos of pale actresses that I thought they looked beautiful in. It just kinda snapped me out of it. I started to embrace being a pale redhead instead. Don’t try to adjust to beauty standards — beauty shows what you are and have, and it shouldn’t push you or change you."
14. "I shaved my hair off just before we went into lockdown last year. It was very long and curly, but I had struggled with hairpulling for years.
"It got really bad last year due to a horrible ex-boyfriend’s abuse. I was getting bald on top, so I shaved it off to try and stop me from pulling it out. It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. I felt so free. And my hair was able to heal and grow back fuller. I recently shaved it off again, and I dye it amazing colors. Currently it’s green, but tomorrow it’s going to be pink!"
15. "I’m getting my teeth fixed with braces. I’m tired of my teeth cracking and chipping! I’m mixed-race, female, and in my mid- to late thirties, so there’s a TON of stigma about getting braces at my age and being deemed unprofessional. Fuck this, I’m doing me."
16. "Growing up felt so confusing for me. I loved wearing boys' clothes, but then also loved some really girly things. People made me so self-conscious about what I wore, and I felt like I had to choose.
"I had so much gender dysphoria not realizing I was still a girl and didn’t have to be a lesbian, either, just because I liked men’s clothing. People will really fuck with your head. Now I wear whatever I want and still feel feminine."
17. "I stopped shaving my pits and legs nearly five years ago. It took a little while to start wearing shorts, skirts, and tanks in public, but when I just stopped caring, it felt like no big deal!
"The female body hair stigma needs to fuck off already, though. It has nothing to do with hygiene and everything to do with patriarchal control and consumerism."
18. "For years, I've been so insecure about my acne, and I usually wore makeup whenever I left my house. Since the pandemic, I now rarely wear makeup and feel a lot more comfortable with my skin.
"When I do wear makeup, I don't cake it on and instead go for something more natural. Skin isn't mean to be filter-perfect — it's okay if some pigmentation and texture show through!"
19. "I started to embrace my pale skin recently, and it has been amazing!
"Growing up, I would always get called a 'ghost' or 'vampire' and felt the need to use fake tanner and put on a ton of bronzer with my makeup. I am so much happier now that I’ve embraced it! I’ve never liked the nude lipstick trend but always got told that I’m 'too pale' to wear dark lipstick. Now I'm embracing my pale skin and its beauty — bring on all the deep, bright lip colors!"
20. "I stopped wearing makeup to work every day, and it was the best decision ever. My skin's never been clearer, and my eyelashes have grown longer and thicker without all that mascara.
"Gotta love an extra 20 minutes in bed too. My (female) boss did try and tell me that maybe I should wear some again 'cause I looked tired, but she quickly backtracked when I asked if she was going to ask my similarly tired-looking male colleagues to do the same."
21. And "I stopped sucking in my stomach."
"I’m SO much more comfortable now, and I’m actually starting to love and appreciate myself for who I am. It also helped me through my eating disorder recovery because I drastically decreased the amount of time I was focusing on my flaws!"
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.
The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.