What Is An Inner Beauty Makeover?
If you were to rifle through my bathroom cabinets, you might wonder if you stumbled upon a Sephora graveyard. Creams, serums, hydration boosters, balms, masks, overnight masks, oils, toners, and cleansers clutter my under-counter real estate. And this isn't just because I am now Botox-years-old and require extra maintenance, I've always had a plethora of skin care and makeup.
This obsession started in 8th grade, when I first consciously remember believing that if I found the right product(s) I could have the one thing that would grant me the power and security I craved: beauty. Although I wasn't an unsightly teen, I wasn't known for my appearance, and good looks were the highest form of currency in the middle school economy. I looked at the girls in my school who were considered pretty (or fine/hot, as we used to say) and wasn't just envious of their genetic goldmine, but rather the freedom their DNA allowed them.
If you're fine, everyone lets you do whatever you feel like doing. When you're hot, you have the privilege of speaking your mind with little to no backlash. Wanna wear your pajamas to school, not brush your hair, and leave the crusty bits of your dried eyeball leakage resting on your tear ducts? Go for it — you're beautiful! — and tomorrow half the school will try to copy your "I woke up like this" look. From my seat in the spectator section, it appeared as if these chicas held a special license in being able to be themselves.
I wanted the freedom to truly be me but felt I needed prettiness as a security net. I honestly thought that the more attractive I could make myself on the outside, the more I could express what was on the inside. This was based on the belief that attractive people were able to get away with more, be more easily forgiven for mistakes, and had an unspoken permission to vocalize themselves more than the average Jolene. There was an idea of balance I had created: the better you look, the more you can do, be, and have. So I strived to uphold this balance for so long, that by my mid-20s it became a compulsion. The day I knew something needed to change is still crisp and precise in my mind.
It was a hot Florida summer afternoon and I was riding around with my bestie helping her get things in order for her upcoming wedding. We had just parked at the hotel where she would be married and I pulled out my compact to reapply some powder. In a very non-judgmental and loving way, she said, "I've noticed this is the third time today you've fixed your makeup and it's only 2PM. You look great. I don't understand." Her words weren't dramatic. We didn't start arguing. I just simply replied, "You're right," and closed my compact.
I went home that night, pulled out my journal, and gushed my feelings on to the pages. I probably poured some wine on top of those feelings too. . . but that detail's a little hazy, so I'm just making an educated guess. But what happened next is not speculation — I said a prayer and made a vow that I still carry with me to this day.
I prayed to feel more beautiful and I vowed to spend more time and effort on creating a gorgeous soul and personality. Most importantly, I promised to stop telling myself things that weren't true. No more believing that I couldn't be/wouldn't be whole unless I was flawless on the outside. I had to stop agreeing to let my outward appearance take the lead while I neglected the most stunning parts of my inner being. It was a process of relearning how to be in the world. This is how my inner beauty makeover began: with a journal, a prayer, and a vow, alone in my apartment with possibly (most likely) a heavy pour of cabernet.
It takes work to stay connected to this pledge. The commitment is one I have to make time and time again, but it's more than worth it. I've found the freedom I thought those middle school girls had on lock, but I have to be deliberate about cultivating these feelings. Keeping my inner beauty game strong means staying in touch with my authentic self; because nothing makes me feel more beautiful than doing the things I'm good at, speaking from my heart, and bringing joy to others. Once you tap into what makes your soul sing and your heart thud with excitement, you've found the source of your inner beauty.
Being able to make this shift has allowed me to see beauty products and makeup as a way to care for and show love to myself and not just create an outward mask, although I do have to check myself on occasion. When I catch myself purchasing one too many tubes of skin potions, I force myself to not wear makeup for at least one day — and to leave the house on that day as well! This isn't punishment, but a reminder that the way I look doesn't affect my day (or life) as much as I assume it will. The cashier won't refuse to ring up my groceries because I don't have mascara on and none of my friends decline an invitation to lunch if I have a big fat zit on my chin (which as of this writing, I do).
Feeling beautiful on the inside is an empowering by-product of staying aligned with your true self and expressing that true self in meaningful ways. It shines through in the big, bold actions you take as well as the simple gestures you show your loved ones. The important thing is to just keep doing more of the things that light you up so you can shine your unique and glorious inner beauty on the rest of us.