How I Learned to Stop Apologizing for the Way I Looked
By Thao Nguyen
I recently took a trip back home to Seattle during the little break I took before starting my new job. Every time I’m there, I try my best to spend time with all of the relatives I don’t get to see throughout the year. I love doing doing this, but something I did this time around became a cause of concern for me. I found myself apologizing for looking like myself.
This trip was somewhat impromptu, I had decided to quit my old job at the last minute and didn’t book the tickets until a few days before takeoff. Since I flew out right after my last day at the old job, I didn’t really have time to properly pack, and left behind most of my makeup and makeup brushes. So, every time one of my relatives texted me to let me know they were on their way to pick me up, my standard response was “okay! Can’t wait to see you. BTW I look gross today lol.”
BTW I look gross today lol.
To make it clear, the only thing different about my appearance on those days than what I look like normally was that my eyebrows weren’t filled in and I wasn’t wearing eyeliner and blush. So, when I was saying “BTW I look gross today lol” what I was really doing was apologizing for looking like myself. Warning my own family members that I wasn’t a sight for sore eyes without artificial enhancement.
As my fellow Polarity staff writer, Alisha, has so well put it, “There’s a huge difference between wearing makeup because you want to and wearing it because you feel like you need to. I know makeup isn’t always about hiding and insecurity. Sometimes it’s just a fun and creative way to express yourself…” I honestly thought that I was part of the group of people who wears makeup for fun, but the more often I wore it, the more I began to fall into the group of people who feel a need for makeup to be attractive.
It’s not a pretty thought to contend with - finding out that I wasn’t as confident as I thought I was. But I forced myself to stop apologizing and go out into the world with a fresh face every day for two weeks. At first, I would flinch every time I felt someone was looking at me for longer than they needed to. Was it because I had nearly invisible eyebrows? Was it because without blush I looked like death warmed up? Or was it because without eyeliner my eyes looked buggy?
It took me awhile to realize that no one was really looking at me anyway. And I don’t mean this in a negative way. People weren’t really as judgemental and preoccupied with my, or anyone else’s looks, as I presumed. Of course, just because people weren’t judging me doesn’t mean my self-consciousness was cured. In addition to needing to learn that it didn’t matter what people thought of me, I also needed to learn to love all of the aspects of myself more. It’s been a learning process, and I’m still figuring it out as I’m going. But I do know that I’ve never going to apologize for just looking like me from now on. If you find yourself ever doing that, stop. Take a hard look at yourself, perceived flaws and all, and make a firm resolve not to do it again. Because there is never anything wrong with looking like yourself.