I’m thirteen years old and I hate myself.
The list of grievances that I’ve formulated against my physical appearance include, but are not limited to: mid length velcro bangs that hang in lifeless chunks around the sides of my face, caterpillar shaped bushy brows replete with the unmistakable presence of a faint unibrow (Is there really any such thing as subtlety regarding the subject of unibrows anyway, though?), occasional bouts of mild acne, a skin tone that most closely resembles the color of an old hospital bed sheet, and a labyrinth of unwelcome freckles/moles present on various locales throughout my body – a genetic heirloom from my maternal Grandfather that’s turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving.
Finally, one day, I can’t stand it anymore: I deliberately wait in the passenger seat of the car while my Dad enters the supermarket to pick something up. Upon his exit from the vehicle, I pull down the mirror in an effort to examine my appearance with a microscopic zealousness. Staring at my reflection like a wide-eyed, catatonic serial killer – blaring afternoon sunlight emphasizing all of my imperfections — I say, emphatically and aloud, “Holy shit (fury emanating from within). I have the skin of a ninety year old.” Laden with a generally uneven complexion, freckles, an oddly shaped beauty mark on my upper left cheek, messy, massive eyebrows, and a mustache, I do, in fact, seem to have the face of someone who more closely resembles Quasimodo than, let’s say, a conventionally attractive high school cheerleader.
The rest of my early teenage years are characterized by a kind of lurking self hatred, a frustrated understanding of the fact that I’m not really ugly, per say, but that I have absolutely no idea how to go about making myself look even remotely close to something that would be categorized as ‘pretty’ either. Every blow dry resulting in excessive frizz that I attempt, every boxy Gap sweater that I purchase, every uncomplimentary lip color that I apply, is tinged with a lingering knowingness that I believe that I could like my external experience if I only had the skill set to refine it with some degree of savvy subtlety.
So, when I emerge from the dressing room at a boutique on Long Island with a flamingo pink, sequined, tulle crafted ball gown that eclipses my ability to breathe, I’m decidedly Sweet Sixteen ready. As such, I finally find myself at a professional makeup counter, where Bettina, the Clinique saleswoman at my local mall, picks out a slew of products and tries to explain to me how to apply them all. One after another, she pops them into a baby Saks bag and sends me on my way.
After going home and attempting to recreate the look twenty times in my bedroom mirror, I take careful note of the fact that well matched foundation can work wonders when it comes to evening out skin tone and airbrushing one’s complexion. As I build upon my formerly blank canvas, I find that I’m still myself – meaning, my natural features are assuredly in tact — but that I’m a beautifully enhanced version of the freckled face, self-loathing little girl that I had been fifteen minutes before. And despite the fact that Bettina didn’t include eyeliner in my bag of goodies (I think she thought I was too young – this was the pre Kylie Jenner era) and that I used sponge rollers to do my hair on the day of my party (why, God?), I felt beautiful in my flamingo pink, multi layered tulle dress. That sensation, that confidence, that knowledge about how to get myself to where I wanted to be, ignited a desire in me to learn everything that I could about the subject.
Years later, I would find myself working in and out of industries (on air reporting, modeling) that propagated the need to be camera ready in ten minutes or less. For my personal satisfaction, I found a select few trusted experts to coif my hair, give me an airbrushed golden glow before shoots, whiten my teeth once a year, etc. And because I genuinely love to feel my best, I studied the craft of makeup artistry in any and every way that I could, save for actually enrolling in beauty school. After working with industry experts, meeting the owners of huge cosmetic lines, watching thousands of hours of YouTube videos, reading books, and even seeing myself on a national news screen, I finally narrowed down a go-to look that works for me. With this look, I feel my best in person, on camera, and even when traveling.
Gone are my days of feeling like an ugly duckling. I love having the skill set necessary to whip out a few products and to feel like the best version of me. Investing in a Tweezer was decidedly a good choice, as well.