WRITER: SARAH MEIER
The concept of great dependency immediately bores through my mind when I reflect on the greater part of my early adolescence. Not a dependency on drugs or anything like that, but a severe dependency on social acceptance consumed me. Circa seventh grade, I remember buying makeup and choker necklaces, neither comfortable nor flattering, to make myself more presentable. I figured heavy blue eye shadow would probably seize the focal point on my face away from the most hideous chronic zit that appeared like clockwork along with my period monthly (only to decamp from my face about a week before it returned). I no longer have the pleasure of welcoming that zit; it stopped occurring when I entered high school, which is a shame seeing as I finally had concealer that matched my complexion. Anyway, when I did apply my pounds of makeup each morning prior to walking to middle school, I remember thinking I looked ridiculous. I never questioned why I was applying it though, only because I felt as though I had little to no choice in the matter. The makeup was not for me. Applying truckloads of makeup did not make me look prettier (in my opinion, and everyone elses’, I’m sure), or happier but it did make me feel more at ease because I was meeting expectation, or I felt I was. Expectations that were/are put into place by friends, parents, the media, boys, etc. that told me, “No, you’re not pretty and any girl that wants to ever have a boyfriend or be popular should wear make up.” Point is: I was unreservedly robbing myself of my right to self-expression. Nothing against 80’s themed makeup, but that was not me. Although I did come very close to actually realizing this in middle school, I don’t think I was at any point mature enough to digest it, I was convinced I had to be accepted.
As I started high school (ah the plot thickens), I continued with my ridiculous and demanding routine each morning prior to school, I slipped (and by slipped, I mean sprinted) into a deep depression. All right, it was not all that deep but it was noticeable. I consistently felt blue and dreary. I was lying on my bed one day after school in ninth grade, dreading the pile of homework that so anxiously awaited my attention, my mother brought my pristinely folded laundry into my room. She graciously placed it on the floor and gave me a curt smile followed immediately by a swift exit (I was comparable to a badger at this point in my hormonal journey). I then looked over at the freshly folded clothing and realized: I do not like any of those clothes. I didn’t like the font that Abercrombie and Fitch used on their graphic tees that were far too sheer nor did I really like wearing jeans that looked like they were forced through a cheese grater with Uggs that made my feet hot. I got up, knowing I was on to something, and peered into my all too dusty mirror that was smudged with eyeliner and dusty from my assorted types of powdered cover-up, and finally figured out why I was drowning in my sorrow: I was not me
I threw out the entire bag of my makeup that day, aside from some mascara and an eyeliner pencil. The next day, I walked into school with no make up on and I was terrified, to be honest. Trudging through the hallways, I felt immediately embarrassed and regretted my bold decision of the previous day. I quickly ran to my friend Rachel and told her that I had forgotten to wear makeup so I ‘needed’ to borrow hers. She agreed and off we went to the girls’ room to fight for a pocket of mirror to apply my drug of choice. I could breathe again.
That day I was not ready to accept myself, but it did not take long after that to realize that I liked being me. Upon that realization, I transformed my wardrobe from A&F to unique and comfortable (not to mention, opaque) clothing that I found expressed me more efficiently, I discovered an ever-growing amount of confidence (and about an hour more of sleep each day), and I started smiling more thus going from 0 to happy in less than a month. Looking back, that period of time in my life was the most defining moment of self-discovery I have had yet and it took brief unhappiness and strife to plop me there. You may be surprised to learn that I do wear makeup now, most days. But the difference is when I wear it; it’s for me, only me, though I gaily welcome people appreciation of my efforts (especially Ryan Gosling).