by Cate Linden (Kentucky)
When I talk to women about beauty and style, one motif surfaces again and again:
“I feel like I missed a class all the other girls attended.”
The first time a woman said this to me, I didn’t know how to respond. I was that girl too, and I thought I’d struggled uniquely.
I remember sitting behind a classmate in middle school, looking at her perfectly messy bun and wondering who taught her how to do that. My messy buns looked like I was renting to birds.
Who taught the other girls how to apply their mascara and lipgloss just so? How to shape their brows? To take care of their skin?
Who taught them to pair accessories with their outfits? How to put together an actual outfit in the first place? Or what constituted a good fit?
My mother was faultlessly groomed, but she taught me little about beauty or style. Maybe I didn’t ask, maybe she thought I wasn’t interested. But in my heart of hearts I was always looking for answers. I fumbled along, a bookish, imaginative child who became a teenager and desperately wanted to know how to define myself as a woman.
I didn’t know how to style my hair, how to dress my body, or how to choose and apply makeup. I looked to what other girls were doing for answers, but their hair wasn’t my hair, their bodies weren’t my body, their coloring wasn’t my coloring. This would be so much easier, I thought, if I just looked like someone else.
That belief led me, and so many women, down another twisted path, where you are afraid to even attempt to dress more stylishly, or try a new lipstick color, or style your hair differently, because if you don’t try, you can’t fail…or so the thinking goes.
And that’s how, all these years later, you’re a generally confident woman. You have a career, you have kids, you’re intelligent, and you feel worthy, and you’ve read those quotes about how comparison is the thief of joy, and how flowers in a garden don’t compete, they just bloom, and yet here you are, still afraid to wear red lipstick to the grocery store, because what if someone looks at you and thinks,
“Who does she think she is?”
I don’t want that fear for you. I didn’t want it for myself, and I don’t want it for my daughter either.
I want you to have the tools and the confidence to put on that lipstick, to rock that skirt, to flaunt that hairstyle, and know that all of them are absolutely perfect for you.