Thursday, April 17, 2014

Journal Day #9

How would you say your upbringing or background has shaped your idea of beauty? Were you taught to apply makeup or do you hair by your mother or friends? If not, where did you observe what is now your norm as far as beauty practices? And although most of us have been inundated by different cultural beauty "norms" via the media, would you say that television and magazines have had a strong impact on shaping what you think of as beautiful? This week, write about your idea of beauty- how your background has shaped it and what that means for you today.

our friend Nikki helping my sister get ready before her wedding

When I think back to my earliest memories of my Mom, I remember watching her get ready before her and my Dad's Friday night date nights- Avon blush and eyeshadow, a spritz of that floral perfume sitting on her dresser, hairspray scrunched into her permed hair. It was the 80s and memories of color are vivid; big baubles and chunky necklaces, dangling earrings and layers of bracelets. And although my Mom wore makeup when she went out, she was never the type to wear it on a daily basis. I actually have no recollection of her ever teaching me how to apply it, or even talking about why women wear it- it just wasn't important.

I didn't start becoming interested in makeup until the 8th grade, and even then it was just a little powder and some Lip Smackers lip gloss. The circle in most girls' back pockets at school was a tell tale sign of that Cover Girl compact we all had, and I can remember sitting on the lunch patio powdering my nose and reapplying my lip gloss before class with all of my friends. So silly. Some of my friends were already wearing mascara and foundation at that point, but even though I noticed it, I never thought, hey, I want to do that too. At that point in my life my idea of beauty was probably something I saw in a magazine- YM or Seventeen, and much as I loved curling my hair before school and spritzing on my Sunflowers perfume (ha), it wasn't an all encompassing thing. I remember feeling pretty, which is a funny thing to write out, but I don't have memories of feeling anything but okay with how I looked, at least until later.

In high school I was so active in sports that makeup wasn't ever really a thing either. I was always either going to practice right after school or had a game or meet, so it didn't make sense to wear it to school only to get all sweaty later. Most of my friends wore it, and I wore it for dances, dates, or special occasions, but it was never more than some eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss. Looking back now I really do feel lucky to have had a Mom that never overtly put importance of outward appearances. Sure, she always looked put together and got us dressed up too, but it wasn't ever a thing. We were more than how we looked, and although she never told us that she somehow conveyed that to us very clearly.

College though was when I would say my personal idea of beauty and the beginnings of my own beauty practices began to change. I was living in a dorm then and later with my sorority, and we all got ready together all of the time. Even when I would go to class Friday morning in sweats after a long Thursday night out, I would still make sure I got "ready." As someone who has struggled with body image in the past I've tried really hard to pinpoint the why and how I started seeing myself and "beauty" differently. And really I'm not sure if I could ever point to one thing- perhaps I could blame media influence, or being surrounded by women who did put an emphasis on looks, but I think it was just a mix of a million different things. This shift happened sometime in my late teens to early twenties and it took quite awhile to get back to a place without self-judgment, as I've written about before. And now as a 31 year old women I do absolutely feel beautiful (most of the time), and it's neat to look back at this whole journey of self-discovery and the growth of this definition of beauty I now have, and see it all laid out, back there. I have this feeling of awe and respect for myself, having given birth to 2 children and seeing my body change and grow big and shrink again, and in a way I think I'm just to the point where I am SO tired of wasting any time thinking poorly of myself, you know? What's the point?

In my long-winded round about way I think I kind of answered the question at hand, but I think I could go on forever about it. I've only just kind of touched the surface, and as much as I'm tempted to go back and add paragraph after paragraph, for the sake of keeping this somewhat readable, I'll leave it. I could go on about so much- there's a lot to be said about being a teenage girl, and the different expectations put on us as women, but that would be many more pages of writing. Perhaps I'll touch on that another day. There's also a conversation in here somewhere about raising children and the concept of beauty. How to talk to them about what they see in the media, what it means to be raising a daughter in today's world, where many of their "role models" in popular culture may be much different than what we grew up with. So much to discuss!

But anyway, that's my response. I really can't wait to see what you shared this week! Post an excerpt and a link your own post below. And as always, thank you for participating in this series. I'm LOVING it.


Read more about my Journal Day project here.
Read previous Journal Days here.


  1. I am growing up in two very different environments: school and home. At home things are stressful, but there isn't constant gossip about who's pretty and who's not. At school, on the other hand, there is constant gossip about how ugly/pretty or stupid/smart someone is. The media also contributes to what I find pretty. The media says you have to be skinny, tall, and be pretty...

  2. I chose not to write about this weeks prompt, only because I think if I did and my mom read it, it might hurt her feelings. I will just say in my late teens I held this belief that it was unacceptable to go out in public without makeup. Last year, I decided that I was too worried about my appearance and have only worn makeup 2-3 times since then. It's been liberating and one of the best choices I've made.


  3. My idea of beauty is way more laid back than most girls. I mean, I find a fresh face prettier than a made up one. I feel more beautiful when I wear my glasses rather than when I don't....

  4. This prompt was much easier than last weeks ;)
    "For me, my mom was (is) my idea of beauty. She has long flowing hair past her waist that she never cut as long as I've been alive. She never spent time in the bathroom putting on make up. She was a wash and go type of woman. She had a glow of love and contentment about her that no amount of makeup could ever give her."
    Thank you!

  5. "I also grew up looking through my mothers perfect wedding photography. Flawless brides in soft lighting getting ready the morning of the big day with friends. Makeup. Brushes. Jewelry. It’s a small memory, but I knew from a young age, they were gorgeous, and one day, I want to be like them."

  6. // “Oh look at you, very pretty… but you look even better without anything you know?” that would be my mum’s standard sentence when she sees me pampered up for a night out or special event.
    My upbringing has helped me grow up with an idea of beauty as an effortless and natural thing, that does not follow “fashion” rules and that values authenticity. //
    Lovely prompt Danielle, I love journal day... thanks for thinking all these prompts!!

  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on beauty! I really love reading everyone's thoughts on this topic.
    Here is a little snip of mine: "I don't remember learning specific lessons about beauty from my mom when I was young, but I have a sense that I didn’t know or care what society thought about it."

    Read the rest here:

  8. "It took me quite a while to think about this one, as the two females that I had around while growing up (my Mum and my sister) had two very different styles when it came to makeup and beauty ...... When I first started my beauty journey, I was in 5th grade. It began with only a black eyeliner, and I went overboard. I used it to death..." Read the rest:

  9. My story was completely different from yours at the beginning, but I think now we're at the same place! Yay, I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing! You can read my post at:

  10. I feel like I could talk about this subject all day long too, but I think I managed to cut it all down into a few paragraphs! "

    Beauty is a concept that I feel is so incorporated into our society today. And yet it seems a little odd to me, because it's so subjective. Of course, it's incredible to have those moments where you stop and think 'wow, that truly is beautiful' and I personally think no compliment matches the one of someone telling you you're beautiful. Because, for me, beauty is about more than the physical, it's about being beautiful to someone, both in looks and spirit. And I don't think there's a greater compliment than that."

    Anna xx | The Girl In The Moon

  11. Thanks for these lovely prompts every week!
    "It's funny to think that my idea of beauty evolved over the years to wind up right back where it started. I love the idea of finding beauty in strength. I'll never have tiny little toothpick arms but these arms of mine do a lot of awesome things. I'm learning to love that. "

  12. I grew up surrounded by women in my family. Each had her opinion--often strong--of what or who is beautiful.

    Among them, my mother has the most open-minded and worldly view of beauty. It has rubbed off me and gave me a healthy self-esteem. We subconsciously and unknowingly pick up little details as we get older or reach that same age as when we remember our mothers dressing up or looking their best in a certain way.

    I learned about beauty from her definition and exemplification of it: that which is not so much about the physical aspect as it is in the aura exuded by a woman. By that, I learned that beautiful is understated, elegant, confident, talented, unassuming, engaging, not contrived.

    I learned about make-up and waistlines from fashion magazines, Lynda Carter, and Jacklyn Smith ( I still adore these two beautiful women), but my profound concept of beauty comes from my mother's very relaxed idea that I am fine just the way I am.

    I wrote a piece related to beauty and confidence called 'Dark and Proud' which you can read here:

    Thank you for your journal prompt which gives readers a chance to share their thoughts with you.

    Happy Easter!


  13. "I didn't really grow up caring all that much about what other people thought of the way I looked, or didn't look. I was raised to be true to myself, and if that meant being a Tomboy, or wearing David Bowie makeup, then that's what it meant. We all go through different seasons of life, and our appearance tends to reflect those seasons."

  14. I'm a little late to the game (busy life!) but here is my contribution:

    "Over the last few years, I have learned that none of that really matters--that I am pretty enough, and good enough, and that this body of mine is perfect in its imperfections. This is the only one I'm going to get, anyway, and I should treat it with respect and goodness. I know I am a beautiful woman and I am capable of amazing things! As we all are."

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well!

  15. My interest in makeup also started in the 8th grade. Of course, mom was my biggest influence. In a few years, I will influence my daughter - and hopefully do a good job. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I think you do makeup brilliantly.
    Beauty Fashion Skin Care Blog -Girlie Blog Seattle | Casual Chic Style

  16. "I still blame the fact that I don't know how to properly french braid my hair because I was homeschooled."

    I am loving this. Thank you. Sorry I am always behind.