I could probably count on one hand the number of friends who veer anywhere close to sharing my obsession with beauty products… either they’ve perfected the natural beauty thing, just aren’t into make-up, or feel unsure where to begin. This is part of the reason I started Strawberry Blonde Beauty, a little corner to share my interest with like minded people and guide beauty novices towards products that really work. Sometimes it makes me feel a little bit guilty... I mean I’m not exactly saving lives, but if I can help someone find a product that encourages them to hold their head a little higher, then that’s enough to make my day.
So why *do* we put so much effort into make-up, skincare, hair, nails, the whole shebang?
There are bigger, more important things in life. Of course there are. And these are often the very things that have driven my beauty obsession over the years, whether to conceal red eyes with the right eyeliner, soothe woes with a bubble bath, lift my spirits with a bright lip, or create a moment of precious me-time to paint my nails during ‘so this is what being a parent / grown-up is actually like’ moments.
It’s quite a deep rooted thing for me (yup the irony), but essentially, I enjoy it and it makes me feel better. Sure I’d love to be the type that rolls out of bed looking like she just stepped out of a photo shoot (I have 3 friends like this: Ali, Priscilla & Tania - if I didn’t love you so much I’d hate you *jokes*), but even if I didn’t need make-up, I’d still wear it - because it’s fun! Show me a girl who disagrees that half the pleasure of going out is the getting ready… (admittedly moreso pre-kids, with a leisurely glass of something sparkly in one hand and lipstick in the other). Often that 10 minute skincare and beauty routine is the only me-time any of us mums have in our day, so why not enjoy it?!
And if we’re being completely honest, I feel unattractive without make-up. Close friends and family see me make-up free all the time, but beyond them, I feel that The Real Me is unacceptable. Not cool, I know. And I’m not looking for a sympathy vote, just trying to explain… I grew up as a Frizzy Ginge in the days when red hair was absolutely not cool and Frizz Ease had not yet been invented. I was also painfully thin and very self conscious about it (the reason I could slap people who feel free to comment on my child’s ‘skinny legs’). I also towered above my friends, had buck teeth, transparent lashes and was ghostly pale... painting a pretty picture, huh? Let’s just say there was name calling (probably not that much, but it felt like it at the time) and the insecurities stuck.
So aged 13 I’d pinch my cheeks on the school bus to try and introduce some shade of Alive; by 14 I’d discovered blusher (a super flattering orange shade, obvs); and at 15, added Rimmel Pink Shimmer lipstick to the mix - in attempt to conceal lips that I thought were too full (not cool then either). You get the picture. Make-up was a lifeline to me. Thank God my beauty-savvy big sister soon taught me how to use it.
All of that seems like a lifetime ago (it is!) and of course I have a whole other set of insecurities now, but my attitude has changed. I feel good some of the time and when I feel rubbish I know how to take things up a gear. Mostly I feel quite sad for the time I lost worrying about how I looked back then and wish I’d appreciated what I had. I will do everything I can to encourage my 9yo daughter to accept her beautiful self - inside and out - and am careful not to mention my insecurities in front of her. Growing up is hard enough these days without me pre-empting her awareness of lines and muffin tops. I love that she has zero interest in the plethora of beauty products gathered on every surface of our home, refuses to let me even paint her nails and tells me off for putting on make-up Every.Single.Day.
The truth is that ‘Perfect’ is completely and utterly subjective. One person’s perfect is another’s imperfect - and vice versa. All that any of us can do is make the most of what we’ve got and where we’re at right now. And if healthy skin, pretty make-up and a gorgeous fragrance can help us towards achieving that, then so be it.