I often catch myself looking at my reflection whenever
I walk past shop windows.
I then proceed to internally curse myself. Am I a
narcissist? Self-absorbed? Self-conscious? Am I just obsessed with myself?
There’s a fine line between caring about how you look and
caring too much about how you look to others. It becomes all-consuming. For me,
the idea of being obsessed with beauty automatically makes me think back to the
hours I’ve spent pulling clothes on and off in frustration, straightening every
last natural wave out of my hair, meticulously dabbing concealer over pimples.
One last check in the mirror before I leave, as though anything has changed
since I checked a few minutes before.
And as much as I hate to admit it, I wasn’t doing these
things for myself. I would do them for the boy I liked, for my friends who I
thought would like me better if I was pretty, or for the photos that would be
taken and plastered all over Instagram. It was an endless, fruitless search for
validation. Because at the end of the night, I’d get into pyjamas, whip my hair
into a bird-nest bun, and douse my face in micellar water. And then I’d get
into bed and go sleep, and nothing would have changed. Still the same person
with the same insecurities and no more fulfilled than before I’d left to go
Sometimes I catch myself falling back into these old
patterns. I think too much about whether people will like me for the way I
look, when really, the people worth keeping in my life are the ones who have
seen me in every state, whether that be fully done up or barely holding it
together. In certain moments, I forget the means by which I should be measuring
my value and instead become obsessed with outer beauty, with maintaining some
sort of façade that I remain desperate to portray.
Beauty is a difficult concept. I’m not going to
condemn myself, or others, for wanting to feel beautiful. It’s the methods we
employ in order to feel beautiful that truly matter. Did spending $70 on
foundation or eating celery for every meal make me feel beautiful? Sure, for
short bursts of time, it did. But the empty wallet and stomach pains and
sleepless nights caught up to me in the end. It’s not always easy for obsession
to be a beautiful thing.
Is it okay to be obsessed with beauty? There is no
definite answer. It really depends on what beauty is. If beauty is an orange
sunset sky or a really catchy electric guitar riff or the sound a puppy makes
when it yawns, then yes, I think it’s perfectly okay to be obsessed with
beauty. In that case, it’s a beautiful thing to be obsessed with the beauty
that surrounds us: in words, in people, in nature. I think I’d like to spend
more time finding beauty in my surroundings to obsess over.