try not to try.

There are some songs that hit us square in the heart; their impact is undeniable, because they pinpoint an emotion or a thought that we might not have even been able to express before.

This is one of those songs. Colbie Caillat’s mesmerizing voice isn’t the only beautiful thing about her. The woman is gorgeous; stunning, really. However, after hearing her new song, “Try”, I feel like she has offered the most beautiful gift of all to her listeners: the opportunity to peer into her soul.

This song resinated with me immediately. I am extremely passionate about inner beauty and body image, so the second my friend, Gabby, told me about Miss Caillat’s new song, I had to check it out.

Not only is the melody enchanting, but the message is positive, encouraging, and liberating. I love this song, because it goes deeper than telling you the typical, “You’re beautiful, everyone’s beautiful”. Hearing a singer who I will never meet sing about how everyone is beautiful is not going to make me believe that I am beautiful. We can hear the words, “You’re beautiful” over and over again, but unless we believe it ourselves, nothing is going to change.

Telling someone how they are supposed to feel, or how they are supposed to see themselves will not further their self confidence; it will not bolster their self image. Colbie Caillat doesn’t sit and sing about how beautiful every single person in the world is while she strums her guitar and flashes perfect pearly white teeth at the camera. Caillat does not bat dark, mascara laden eyelashes and digitally brightened eyes at the camera while she sings about how gorgeous we all are.

Caillat is gets real. The singer removes a mask of makeup as she bares her face, and her soul, pouring every fiber of her being into a powerful message of self acceptance. Take a look at the lyrics:

Oooh
Oooh

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
Yooou don’t have to try

Oooh
Oooh

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
Yooou don’t have to try

Oooh
Oooh

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
Cause I like you

There is a haunting quality to Caillat’s voice; the kind of emotion that is revealed only when a singer shares a piece of their soul with the world.

I appreciate the realness that laces every word of this song together. Even the music video lives up to its message. Too often we are told, “You’re beautiful, no matter who you are!” while our eyes are assaulted by a band of impossibly beautiful 20-somethings beaming back at us. This video shows the before and after of each subject, and it also showcases a variety of shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages. I appreciate the way Caillat and her media crew practice what they preach.

We see curves, we see bones, we see wrinkles, we see freckles, we see aging, we see youth. The message isn’t “You’re beautiful”, the message is self acceptance. We cannot be happy if we cannot accept ourselves. So often, we are told by others who and what we are. We are given so many opinions, whether or not we ask for them.

Like everyone, I feel this pressure on a daily basis. Sometimes instead of asking myself if I like who I am, I think about what others would like. I once met an agent from New York who told me that if he could use me for an ad, he would like me to grow out my bangs and stop running and doing squats, because he was afraid that the exercise would add centimeters to my butt and thighs, which were already too big for runway fashion. You know what I did when I got back from that interview? I went on the elliptical and did squats. Why? Because moving my body makes me feel strong, and I didn’t want to quit my exercising to win someone else’s approval of my body.

Sometimes, like the modeling job, I am told that I am not small enough. Other times, I feel the pressure in the opposite way, like a friend or a family member who will tell criticize me if I pass on a dessert or junk food, saying, “You shouldn’t be try to lose weight, you need to eat more”. I used to make it a point to indulge in the opportunities when dessert was offered, feeling like I needed to prove that I am not dieting.

It’s funny how it’s not socially acceptable to call someone too heavy, but we feel fine about pointing fingers at people and calling them too skinny. Granted, it’s never healthy for someone to obsess about their weight, no matter what size they are, and if someone seems to be paying far too much attention to their size, it’s good to confront them in a positive and polite, caring way, but it’s never okay to accuse someone of being TOO something. Too big. Too small. Too short. Too tall. Too flat. Too curvy. Too edgy. Too girly. Too tomboyish. Too modest. Isn’t it time we encourage each other instead of picking others apart to bolster our self confidence?

Even today, at one of my jobs, I listened sadly as I overheard a group talking about a pregnant anchor on a popular TV show, “Her arms are terrible”, “Her legs aren’t that great either”, “Wow, she’s soooo pregnant”. What gain does it bring to pick others apart? It made me so sad, but even sadder, because I know that I do things like this in my head. I make a mental comparison to others, trying to draw out their flaws, and even going as far as coming up with excuses not to like them when I can’t find any. Why is this a natural response? I’m not sure. Maybe we feel better about ourselves when we can explain our faults by highlighting someone else’s.

This doesn’t make sense. Have you ever met someone who looks up at the sunrise and says, “The clouds are okay I guess, but the sun sure could be brighter, and I’ve definitely seen the sky in a more vivid shade of peach and gold than that one…this sky is just kind of bland.” Ridiculous! No one looks at the ocean and says, “Meh, this ocean is a grayish color, and the waves aren’t even making whitecaps today. This ocean is boring. I’ve seen way better bodies of salt water.” Whenever I think a negative thought about someone, I think of this, and I can learn to love and appreciate someone’s beauty instead of depleting my own energy and their humanity by searching for their faults.

I like how Colbie Caillat faces the camera and takes off her makeup mask; she bares her real skin. Caillat is real with herself about the things she is hearing and feeling. Once we understand why we are feeling the pressures to be a certain way, it can help us fight back and embrace who we are. Caillat verbalizes the messages we receive every day, whether it is from the media, our friends, our family, or ourselves.

Caillat explains that we don’t have to work so hard to make ourselves into something that we are not. We face so many expectations in the way that we “should” look, talk, think, act, dress, and behave. Part of embracing yourself is realizing that not everyone is going to agree with you. When I was in middle school, I wore fake purple Ugg boots and giant peacock earrings to school, and my mom looked at me and smiled; not because I was the picture of fashion and beauty, but because I was being who I wanted to be. It was 7 years ago, but I still remember her words and her smile today: “Kelly, I love that you are brave enough to dress and be who you are without worrying what others think of you. I appreciate that you are yourself.”

This was probably the best compliment I ever received. Someone loved me and appreciated me for who I was. Did I look ridiculous that day? Probably. Could my mom have rolled her eyes and given passive aggressive incentive for me to change my outfit? Easily. There is so much power and beauty that comes from accepting others for who they are, and appreciating them for the things that make them purely themselves.

Caillat ends her song singing, “Do you like you? Cause I like you.”
We don’t have to try so hard to make others happy. We are the most ourselves when we are not trying to be. I fall the most in love with someone when they have their full guard down, and they freely express themselves without thinking about anyone else’s perception of them. When my mom throws her head back and laughs loudly, when my sister raises an eyebrow and smirks at me as she bakes a batch of red velvet cupcakes. There is a beautiful sincerity that comes along with someone who is in their element, enjoying who they are as a person without taking the fragmenting pauses that come along with considering someone else’s opinion.

Think about it. Do you like you? I’m not saying it’s easy, but once we learn to accept who we are as a person, as a whole, we can freely love ourselves and others.

You don’t have to try so hard.

In fact, try not to try.

Just be you.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14 NIV

 

 

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Flawless?

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flaw·less
ˈflôləs/
adjective
  1. 1.
    without any blemishes or imperfections; perfect.
    “her brown flawless skin”
    synonyms: perfectunblemishedunmarkedunimpaired; More

    Flawless. How do we summarize such a loaded word? Dictionary.com lists the description above to encompass the powerful adjective…but really, what does that mean?

    Flawless isn’t me. It isn’t my mother. It isn’t my sister. It isn’t the lady down the street. It isn’t my best friend.

    And yet…I am bombarded by “flawlessness” everywhere I go. Standing in line at the grocery store, images of women with piercing ice blue eyes, glossy hair, and radiant, tanned skin stare me in the face. Browsing through Pinterest, thin, toned models wear the outfits I try to imagine on my own body type, but I have to close my eyes and clear my mental canvas in order to do so. When I go shopping, models with curves in all the “right” places fill my peripherals as I stroll through the mall.

    Every image sends a message: “You should be tall…but not too tall. You should be thin, and toned…but not too muscular. You should have curves…but only in these places. Your hair should be glossy. Your lips should be full. Your skin should be glowing. Your nose should be narrow. Your eyes should be bright. Your waist should be tiny. Your feet should be small. Your brows should be neat. Your clothes should be expensive. Your neck should be elegant. Your jaw should be defined. Your teeth should be white. Your lashes should be long. And then….you will be special.”

    Women and girls are told by every form of media that in order to be special, they should fit a cookie cutter image of beauty that society has constructed for them. Now, this is nothing new. Ask any female you know to describe the overwhelming feeling of social pressure they encounter to live up to standards that are unattainable…even by the models themselves. Because of photoshop, I know that I have trained my brain to understand that the images I see in magazines and dancing across my TV screen are not real.

    However, lately, “Flawlessness” is becoming more attainable to women everywhere. No, I do not mean that the standards are becoming attainable in reality. There is no magic pill you can take to clear your skin, gloss your hair, plump your lips, whiten your teeth, and carve your proportions. No. But there is the selective portrayal of social media, and even the extent of photoshop apps and websites.

    Have you ever scrolled through your news feed on Facebook and noticed how perfect your friends seem be on social media? Part of it just has to do with the fact that people tend to post their life’s highlight reel on social media. No one in their right mind is going to post an unedited selfie on their way to their 8am…I mean, unless they are really confident. The pictures people tend to post are those where they are dressed to the nines; from their shoes to their confidence level, everything is top notch. We see images posted of people branding themselves. I know I am guilty of this. If something doesn’t appear on social media, it’s almost like it never even happened…and heaven forbid my loyal followers are deprived of the photos from my birthday party/dorm banquet/spring break trip!

    Every day, we are hit with images of our friends at their finest, and of course, what do we do? We compare ourselves. Maybe it’s a girl thing, or maybe it’s just human nature, but sometimes when we see someone looking fantastic (especially when we are not feeling particularly beautiful ourselves), it’s easy to compare ourselves to that person, almost wishing animosity on them for their perfection. Social media makes it hard to feel happy for people who always appear to be so…well…perfect. It can quickly turn into a game of comparisons: “She looks so skinny…well…at least I went to the gym today…and my legs are probably more toned…” It’s so sad how quickly we can plummet into a spiral of analyzing someone’s appearance.

    Now, how real are these “perfect” images? How real are these circumstances? My Facebook and Instagram followers get weekly doses of the glamorous aspects of my life. They see pictures of me dressed at my finest, and feeling my best: they see me in my cobalt cocktail dress, beaming at Evan while holding roses…but there’s no way they saw me the night before, slaving over my homework in my pajamas with a crooked greasy blonde pony tail, stressed out of my mind with one fist in my roommate’s peanut butter jar. So does everyone really know Kelly Doles? Or do they know the social media Kelly Doles; the one who always seems happy and put together? The one who is excited about everything, and loves everyone?

    Example:

    IMG_9614 - Version 2        IMG_8346

    Unedited picture I would post                     Unedited picture I wouldn’t post

    The photo on the left is exciting; it’s glamorous, and it makes my life look fun and entertaining. It sends a message that says, “Kelly Doles is a girl who loves to dress up and have fun”, which, although it is true, it is not what my life looks like all the time. The picture on the right says, “Kelly Doles is your basic college kid. Behold her participating actively in her exhilarating daily life”. Both pictures are real, and both pictures are me, and yet one picture is much more likely to show up on Instagram for “Selfie Sunday” (Although, I do not condone or participate in #selfiesunday, this is just an example). We like to market ourselves through posting only our highlight reel, creating a somewhat skewed representation of what our lives actually look like. Do I love to dress up, put on makeup, and dance in high heels? Absolutely! Does it happen very often? Unfortunately, no, but that’s what I market myself to look like on social media.

    It is one thing to have control over which content we post on social media, but now we can even go as far as skewing the content itself. Photoshop has become more accessible to everyone. Have you ever taken a cute picture with one of your friends, but that unforgiving fluorescent lighting kind of makes your teeth look yellow? Well, there’s a solution for that. Photoshop! We know that we have the easy ability to conveniently and quickly “improve” these images, so we slide some pixelated whitener across our teeth, and upload it to Instagram. What people don’t know won’t hurt them, right? Or will it?

    There are hundreds of apps and websites people can use to touch up their images. Online, users can find simple editing sites, such as “Ribbet”. However, simple photo editing systems likes Ribbet are mere child’s play to some of the apps out there. Recently, I discovered an extremely powerful editing app called “Facetune”. Facetune can do it all. Want to cinch your waist? Facetune will take care of that! Want to clear up some blemishes? Piece of cake. How about accentuate your eye color? Facetune has a solution for that too! Need to make those brows a little bit fiercer? Easy achievable. Facetune is an app that anyone can purchase for  $3.99, offering editing similar to that used in fashion magazines. That’s right folks, the ability to airbrush any image to an unrealistic and unattainable product is now available to the masses.

    What’s so harmful about this? Just like it distorts proportions in an image, photoshop distorts our perception of reality. We are used to magazines using photoshop to “improve” their models, but when we use apps like this, we are reinforcing the harmful message of flawlessness…on ourselves. It places “perfection” in the fragile hands of its victim, who then takes it upon herself. Why? Because it makes us market a thinner/prettier/flawless brand of ourselves. This makes no sense, because it allows the victim of impossible standards to enforce those same standards on a physical image of herself, affecting herself and others. It puts the ability to twist reality in the hands of those who have been hurt by it. My Digital Media Communications class is currently learning about the ethics of photoshop, and so for an experiment, I downloaded the Facetune app. I was blown away by how easy it was to complete twist and touch up an otherwise “real” photo. Here is an example:

    2014-03-06 09.57.23-2

    That picture isn’t Kelly Doles. Other than a product of immense cultural and social expectations, the girl on the right is a stranger. I don’t know who she is; she is not real.

    And yet, anyone who purchases an app like Facetune is granted the ability to create a Barbie-like avatar who might be accepted more by cultural norms, but strays far beyond the realms of reality and digital ethics. The girl on the right might have perfect skin, long and slender limbs, a tiny waist, and defined features, but she is not real. She doesn’t have a soul; she has manipulated pixels. But how is everyone else supposed to know that? I would rather have someone look at a picture of me and say, “Oh, Kelly’s skin isn’t that great today”, or “That’s not a very flattering angle for her”, than  see an overly edited and tweaked picture and utter,”Wow…she looks perfect. How can I attain that?”

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to reinforce a pressure of realist expectations on people who encounter it every day. On social media, we get to carefully craft the way we portray ourselves- but is that honest? As my square inch of rejecting the societal beauty myth, I only wear makeup for special occasions. In all of my years of school, I have never worn even a stroke of mascara to one of my classes, but when I browse through my Facebook profile pictures, I have to admit, what am I wearing in the majority of them? Yep, you guessed it…makeup. If the real Kelly Doles doesn’t wear makeup, then why does the Facebook Kelly Doles? Why should she be any different? These are the questions I have to challenge myself with. If we are constantly marketing a “flawless” representation of ourselves on social media, we are contributing to the beauty myth. Oh, I’m not saying we should all change our profile pictures to a picture of us wearing baggy sweatshirts and doing homework, but we should be careful in the way we try to “brand” ourselves. Before before casually whitening your teeth in your posts, or digitally zapping away your blemishes, ask yourself: “Is this real? Is this honest? Will this hurt someone?”

    Bombarded with images of perfection, we are much more tempted to compare ourselves to others and alter our own digital reality. Think twice before you contribute to creating the standards that are hurting you.

    We were all created differently, and I know we were not meant to be compare ourselves to others…whether it’s an image on a magazine, a screen, a form of social media, or in person. Why can’t we just appreciate others (and ourselves) for who they (and we) are, instead of turning it into a mental competition? I cannot go through society’s book of cultural beauty constructs and highlight every desirable trait, and apply it to myself. I know there are some things I will never have. But here is the catch…we can’t blame society when we ARE society. We create society, and each of our actions contributes to social norms. If it becomes a social norm to portray a “flawless” version of ourselves on all social media,  we are tainting our representations, and adding another straw to the camel’s back.

    How beautiful that we are all so different. How wonderful that we are different heights and sizes and souls and colors. How beautiful and how creative! Every person is like magnificently unique flower contributing to a beautiful bouquet; bursting with detail, life, and color.

    So why do we try to cram ourselves into an unattainable cookie cutter mold? I’m not really sure.

    What I do know, is that I want to do my part to shatter my own mold. So here is the Kelly Doles that you don’t always see on social media. Here is the Me that hasn’t put any makeup, editing, or planning into the way I  want to present myself: uniquely “flawed”, perfectly imperfect, vulnerable, honest and real.

    IMG_2260   561709_10151250897818777_822651985_nIMG_9434

    Please just be the beautiful you that you were made to be.

Beautiful Girl.

IMG_0528

Baby girl, pink blanket.

They say you are beautiful…

and you are

but you don’t know it yet.

Little girl, pink dress.

They say you are beautiful…

and you are

and you know you are too.

Growing girl, pink backpack.

They say you are beautiful…

and you are

and you want to believe it.

Tween girl, pink polish.

They say you are beautiful…

and you are

but you don’t believe it.

Teen girl, pink lips.

They say you are beautiful…

and you are

when will you believe it?

Fresh Face: Be you, be natural.

“I believe that the happiest girls are the prettiest girls.”

-Audrey Hepburn

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Makeup was never something I got into. I think part of it has to do with the extra time that it would take to put it on (who wants to get up an extra ten minutes earlier anyway?) and take it off, but the main reason goes deeper than that.

When I hit middle school, all of the sudden, almost everyone started wearing makeup. Now, when I was in 7th grade, I still looked like a 5th grader, so it would have been weird for such a scrawny and young looking girl to start smudging on the eyeliner or applying the mascara. It might have made me fit in with everyone else, but it definitely wouldn’t have made me fit in with myself and who I was at the time. I would have created the sad evidence of a girl trying too hard to grow up too fast. I decided that I wasn’t going to try to “catch up” with my classmates. As a result, they looked older, and I looked younger, but I was okay with that.

The biggest reason why I decided that I didn’t want makeup to become part of my daily routine was because of this: Makeup becomes a part of a girl’s daily uniform…her identity. It seems like makeup is one of those things that once you start, you can’t stop. When makeup becomes a part of your daily look, it’s the way that people picture you; they get used to seeing you at your best ALL the time. If you have one of those days where you oversleep, and you rush to your 8am, and you don’t have the time to “put your face on”, people are surprised to see your untouched and natural face. We all the sudden appear to look less put together and even more tired to everyone around us. It makes me sad to think that girls (no matter how slightly) revise their natural appearance on a regular basis. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t look nice! I love dressing up, and putting on a cute outfits makes me feel good and increases my confidence. But what I am saying is that I don’t want you to find your confidence in your makeup. I don’t want makeup to be a crutch. It seems like these days there are so many girls who refuse to leave the house without makeup, even if it makes them late for their destination. Why should we feel naked with our natural face? It just doesn’t make sense.

God designed you with a creative look. He crafted your face to be different, and the things that you might view as flaws may very well be the things He added to give you that unique edge; to set you apart and make you an individual. I think that makeup is a great thing. Makeup is a fun way to give yourself slightly different look every single day. Makeup is a tool that we can use to boost our confidence or make us feel more grown up, so we will apply it before a job interview, or when we go to a wedding. I think it’s absolutely fine for people to wear makeup! What I do NOT want is for you to become dependent on it. I never want any girl to reach the point where they feel apologetic for their appearance without makeup. Makeup should be a confidence booster, not a confidence creator. If you can wear makeup every day, and you can still leave your room without feeling self-conscious without it, then go ahead and rock the makeup! But the second that you feel hesitant or self-conscious without your makeup, that’s when I want you to start thinking about the way you might be using it as a crutch. Makeup is not your identity. Makeup is a fun way to add to the identity you want to create for the day, but it should not define who you are. Have you ever noticed that there are some girls who will pile on the makeup to the extent that it covers up their features instead of enhancing who they are? If you like to wear makeup, go ahead and play up those beautiful hazel eyes with some mascara! Do you have amazing full lips? Go ahead and slide on a colorful lip stain and show them off! Rock what God gave you! Just make sure that you’re playing it up, not covering it up. If you already have a flawless complexion, then don’t put on copious amounts of foundation. If you have adorable freckles, don’t try to hide them under layers of concealer. If you use make up, use it to bring out the natural beauty that you already have, and don’t try to create a face that you don’t have. Dark liner can be awesome for a night out with the girls, but do you really need to rock it on a daily basis? Let makeup boost your natural beauty, not hide it! Let it up your confidence, not create it!

I knew from the start that if makeup became a daily routine of mine, I would feel self-conscious when I went without it. When people think of Kelly Doles, I want my natural, untouched face to come into their mind, not some “enhanced” version of it. It’s so easy for us to go be under the impression that we have to have this perfect, airbrushed looking face, complete with bright wide eyes, full lips, long and dark lashes, defined eyebrows that are perfectly arched, and flawless glowing skin. I mean, that’s what we see every single day on the magazine covers, right? We start to hold such high expectations for ourselves, that we believe that is what everyone else around us expects. Break those expectations. The more girls who are okay with accepting “imperfection”, the easier it is for everyone else to feel confident with a fresh face.

I was blessed to grow up in a home where my mom set the standards of confidence for me. My mom only ever wears makeup on special occasions. Seeing my mom on a daily basis (without her makeup), I never once thought “Oh, she looks old”, or “Oh wow, she looks tired”…no. What I did think was, “She looks natural. She looks real.” I had evidence that someone could be beautiful without being airbrushed. Since I am adjusted to seeing a woman without makeup on a regular basis, THAT became the standard of beauty for me…not the image of an expensively airbrushed model on a magazine. I didn’t live with that airbrushed and revised woman. I lived with a natural woman, and one who found her confidence in loving who she was naturally. I remember when I was little, I was going on a tangent of beautiful princesses and Barbies that I wanted to look like when I grew up, and my dad told me, “Well I married your mom, and she is the most beautiful girl in the world.” She is not only beautiful on the outside, but she is beautiful because she finds her confidence in who she is naturally, and she doesn’t use makeup as a crutch to create that confidence. She taught me to stand up straight, have good hygiene, look people in the eyes, address people with their names, have good manners, dress appropriately for the occasion, and treat people with kindness and respect. Those are the things that give me my confidence; not the “perfect” appearance, or the “ideal” face.

I take this into my life wherever I go. I don’t want to become accustomed to wearing makeup on a daily basis and have my sister, my cousins, and the little girls I babysit think that they should put on makeup everyday. I NEVER want one of the girls who I babysit to think, “Well, if Kelly’s a grown up, and she wears makeup every single day, then that’s probably what I should do when I grow up.” Little girls are so malleable; so easily influenced. I want them to pick up on the way that I treat them, and the way that I carry myself. I want them to think, “Kelly looks into my eyes when she talks to me, and she calls me by my name. I want to do that when I talk to people.” These things might not be at the very front of a child’s brain, but they subtly pick up on so many things that we are unaware of. I want to set those kinds of standards for the people who look up to me, not standards that they are already receiving from the media. I want them to see someone who is okay with going about their daily routine without mascara. If I have a blemish, I would rather have one of my little cousins say, “Kelly’s skin is not perfect”, rather than to think, “Kelly’s skin is perfect…mine should be perfect in the future too”. I want to be a picture of reality for the world, not an image of ideals…the world already has enough of that from the media. That message is already received by every single angle.

Be real. Be natural. I am not saying that you can’t wear makeup. I am not saying that makeup is bad. I am not saying that makeup should be banned. I am saying that makeup should not define you, and it should not create your concept of beauty. You are beautiful. I know that everyone denies this. We are our own harshest critics. I have days where I wake up in the morning, and my skin is a hot mess. I have days where I see the bags under my eyes as marks of imperfection and ugliness opposed to a badge of the hard work I put into studying a little extra for my midterm. We all have days where we feel less than perfect. If makeup genuinely makes you happier, then wear it! Makeup is fun, creative, and expressive! Neve feel guilty about expressing yourself! Wearing makeup has never been the problem, but when you start to let your makeup define you; now, that is a problem.

So please don’t be afraid of leaving the house without your BB cream. Don’t look down on your way to class as an attempt to hide the “nakedness” of your face on the days that you just didn’t have the time to slip on some mascara. Find your identity in being a daughter of God, not a product of cosmetics that imitates that model on the cover of your magazine. She doesn’t even look like that. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, with or without your makeup.

“Never lose an …

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“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote. We live in such a busy time with a strong emphasis on due dates and deadlines. It seems like everyone is in a whirlwind rush, and we often zoom through our days, so fast until they all blur together like a child’s water color painting. It’s so important to take the time to notice the simple beauty in a day. Not only does it teach us to slow down and absorb the creation that God continually lays out before us, but it makes each day more enjoyable. Look for the beauty in life, I promise that it’s there. If you have to wake up for an 8am class, take a look at the beautiful sunrise in the sky…not even the winner of art prize could paint it on his or her canvas. Appreciate the delicate petals of the flower growing between your sidewalk crack…beauty appears in unexpected places as a blessing. I honestly think that God sneaks these beautiful things into our days like a mom slipping a note into her child’s lunchbox so they can read it at school. It’s like God is deepening His dimples and beaming at us as He creates beauty in our day; I can only picture how much joy it brings Him when we discover it. So open up your lunchbox today; you might be surprised to see what you find.

-Kelly Doles