Do You Care About How Others See Your Appearance?

by GEM Magazine / Sep 02, 2015 / Comments

I never wanted to be that girl. You know, the girl who wears dresses and make up and looks 'done up' all the time. I thought that girl was shallow, that she was an 'airhead', so of course I didn't want to be like that at all.

I was taught to look down on that girl, but as I grew up, I was able to see through the veil and even found comfort in the practicality of dressing up and the art of make-up.

I began to fit into society’s view of what a woman 'should' look like. I have followed many beauty trends and valued other peoples' opinions.

Then, I dared to cut my hair.

I never really cared too much when it came to my hair. So when I made the decision to cut most of it off, it was more or less a spontaneous one. I woke up that morning, saw my reflection in the mirror and knew that I wanted to cut it off.

Honestly, I didn’t like the way I looked. I didn’t feel confident presenting myself in public, and as someone who has struggled with accepting themselves, I couldn’t bare it any longer. An hour later I was sitting in a salon chair.

I requested my new pixie look but the hairdresser didn’t fully understand. When she asked if the length was short enough I said “no, shorter.” She tentatively cut off another half inch and asked me again. This time I pulled up photos on my phone. She looked unsure, but kept cutting.

When she was finished, she made a joke about me not being recognizable anymore. I smiled and laughed along, but it was the start of something I didn’t expect.

What was supposed to be something I was doing for myself, to help me feel more comfortable in my own skin, turned into a huge controversy. Everyone had an opinion, whether it was good or bad. No one held back, and in turn, it made me even more self conscious.

I felt as though strangers were staring at this girl with a pageboy hair cut, and I could see the people I knew looking at me differently.

I categorized people into three basic categories;
Those who gave backhanded compliments, such as; “I usually don’t like short hair on girls, but you totally pull it off!”
Those who encouraged me to go shorter, because my ‘bold’ look wasn’t bold enough for their liking.
And then there were those who would blatantly ask what happened and why on earth would I do something like that to myself.

I have never felt so insecure and confident at the same time. I loved how my hair looked, but with every nice thing someone had to say, there were two more questioning what I had done.

Some saw it as this great injustice, and they seemed almost offended. I no longer fit into the box they had placed me in.

The bottom line was, I didn’t cut my hair for them, I did it for myself.

Is it okay to have both welcomed and unwelcomed comments made because it's just hair? We can change the colour, cut or do whatever we please and it will grow back.

I realized there is often a sense of entitlement we have when it comes to how others look. If they don’t match the perception we have in our heads, it becomes harder for us to accept.

How they look isn’t up to us, they do not dress themselves for us, they look how they look for themselves.

Everyone wants to feel comfortable in their own skin. Who are we to question that? Whether it be changing their hair, or clothes, getting tattoos or piercings, or whatever they choose, it is not up to us.

Others will not abide to our ideals, and we should not expect them to.

The amount of times I have received comments about my appearance because someone else found the way I looked not to their liking, is a lot more than I care to admit.

Society has focused on certain ideals when it comes to appearance and beauty. Not only for women, but men too. Those who haven't conformed to the ingrained perceptions of beauty have been seen as 'different'. I believe it's time for this to change.

How we chose to define ourselves through our appearance is up to us. We get to decide how we look.

There is no shame in liking make-up, doing your hair and wearing dresses. In the same way that not liking all of those things is equally as valid.

Creating your own style and feeling comfortable in your own skin is what's most important. The way you define what ‘feminity’ looks like or what being ‘feminine’ means is completely up to you.

The way I dress and the way I look makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. Albeit, a thicker skin than I would care to have. I try to not let other's comments get to me.

How other people choose to define you is not how you should define yourself.

We do not owe anyone anything.

So let's be unapologetically confident in the way we look.

After all, beauty comes from within.

By Danika Enad.

Danika is a young writer from Calgary who believes that words have the power to change people for the better and encourages all forms of storytelling. Being truthful to oneself is something she aspires to maintain while still trying to grow as a person. When she is not at school, or doing one of her many creative projects, she can be found spending copious amounts of time with her family eating at their favourite Pho place.

Twitter - @DanikaCEnad

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