What Smart Beauty Means to Me: Very Careful Tweaks and Additions
Sometime around when the hormones come rushing in and the training bras are first purchased, there’s a newfound love and devotion to one’s appearance. I know it was around the beginning of middle school for me, and somewhere around eleven and a half years old I suddenly found myself reading Teen magazine, studying the images of who and what was beautiful, and figuring out what it all meant to me. I remember running to one of my older cousins with a ripped out page of some then-starlet and quickly saying “this is exactly how I want you to make my makeup look! And my face. All of me. I want to be just like this!”
My cousin was about 23 and stopped me dead in my tracks.
“You’re never going to look like anybody else. I’ll help you with your makeup and outfit and all that stuff, but if you want to be happy for a long time you just need to be smart about it - focus on liking the way you look, and then you can add some oomph.”
Add some oomph? What did she mean? Well, I think I ran through that conversation about 1,000 times more in my head before I realized what she meant. Minor tweaks here and there are just fine, as long as your head is in the game. It was around that age, the beginning of sixth grade, that I realized exactly what smart beauty was — it was the pursuit of making the most of the ingredients you already have. You need to still be recognized as you, to both yourself and the outside world. Fast forward about 20 years, and I’m now a mom in my 30s, trying to preserve the features I learned to love, appreciate, and add some oomph to. That desire to appreciate myself before adding any bells or whistles (which now come in the form of a few injectables here and there) was possibly the greatest gift any cousin or friend ever gave me, and completely formed my entire philosophy on beauty in general: smart beauty is simply playing up what you’re already working with.
I remember relaying this information to one of my friends years later. She was about 27 and looking into breast augmentation options. I supported her entirely, I mean, boobs are great and I could totally relate to the feeling of wanting something bigger and better. She was mulling over going from an A cup to either a C, D, or DD. It was this exact philosophy of being rooted in the real that helped steer her to a basically perfect C cup that has worked so well with her small body frame that nobody would ever think to even ask if her breasts were faux.
Last year we sat for a latte at one of our favorite coffee shops and she said to me, “remember when I got my boobs done and you told me to go for the slightly smaller size and more natural? It was the best decision I ever made. I still feel like myself. I wasn’t reinvented into some other person — I just became the version of me I expected to see when I looked in the mirror.”
We obviously shared a good cry because that was pretty deep, reminding me to constantly remind myself of what smart beauty is really all about — tweaks and additions to the real versions of ourselves. Those tweaks and additions can be as simple as some hair color or lipstick, or obviously as well planned out as injectables to keep youth intact just a little bit longer, or surgical procedures to enhance one’s natural look.