When I was younger, I struggled with some really serious anxiety. It's gotten better in the last couple of years, but I still have moments, days, and weeks where my brain sort of claws at it itself from the inside for a while.
I'm not a doctor (I can barely multiply) but I know enough to tell you, if anxiety is affecting your ability to function or feel happy, you don't deserve that and I urge you to seek counseling. Therapists are rad and always on-trend. It is very chic to casually mention your therapist in conversation! My therapist is the best, and she's always draped in, like, Eileen Fisher linen shell tops and these really beautiful scarves that she "picked up in Nicaragua."
It's way easier said than done, but conquering my anxieties meant working with my counselor and my brain to focus on letting go. I had to really just stop caring about so many things. I still care about tons of stuff, and I really like that about me. I like the part of myself that cries when I see stray cats because I don't know where they go during snowstorms. I just don't like the part of myself that couldn't function for a day or two afterwards because I sent myself spinning into the boring and staticky depressive void again.
Now that I'm turning 26, I'm very wise and I know the secret of life is learning what to put your energy into and knowing when to let go. My parents are the masters of this. If I had a penny for every time my dad told me to "let go and let God," I probably wouldn't have to spend so many pennies on a therapist teaching me how to let go.
This aspirational attitude of "letting go" extends towards my approach to beauty as well. Much of my life anxiety is directly related to my physical appearance. I mean, I've pretty much hated and tortured my body for the past 15 years. I went on my first diet at age 11. At some point, I picked up a pretty awful binging and purging habit. Most of the math I've done in my life involved maniacally calculating calories. If you've ever looked up the calorie count of Nyquil, maybe you can relate.
I've spent too much of my short life obsessively measuring each crevasse of my body, pinching any angle where skin dares touch more skin. I've cried in fitting rooms and on doctors' exam tables and on the beach and pretty much anywhere else where I've been forced to acknowledge my physical existence.
And a few years ago, when my face decided to develop some intense hormonal acne, my self-esteem took another less-than-graceful nose dive. It sounds so stupid to say out loud, but there were nights I canceled plans with friends and instead just stayed in and cried in front of the mirror like some tweenage Lifetime movie character.
ANYWAY, I've spent a lot of time working on improving my mental well-being, and my skin. (Turns out, they're totally related. Who knew?) Now, as I lean into my *insert Seinfeld audience reaction audio when Kramer enters* late twenties, I'm ready to officially stop caring about some stupid shit because, like I said, it's been exhausting. And I have better things to devote my energy to, like my career or my relationships or learning what kind of beer do I actually like or memorizing Drake lyrics.
So, in honor of surviving 26 years thus far and beginning my next year on this silly planet, here are 26 beauty-related things I am officially done worrying/stressing/caring about:
1. Under-eye bags
I've pretty much had bags under my eyes since puberty. (Seriously, they developed years before I developed any sort of boobs.) I've spent a lot of time trying to get rid of them or cover them up, which is always just a waste of money or minutes.
My under-eye bags are genetic, and I'm always going to have them. Most of the time, under-eye bags are not a symptom of any sort of health condition, and I have them regardless of the amount of sleep I'm getting. If I'm sleep-deprived or dehydrated, they get a bit worse, but so does the overall condition of my entire face. I'm going to keep caring about getting enough sleep and drinking enough water, but I'm done caring about under-eye bags. They're stylish and mysterious, if you ask me.
Frizz is often a byproduct of hair that's dry or damaged, which my hair occasionally is. But even when I'm taking great care of it, my hair is still going to get frizzy sometimes, especially when inclement weather comes to town.
And you know what? It's cool! I'm rebranding my frizz as volume, which is something everyone wants. From here on out, I'm very Roseanne Roseannadanna-chic.
3. My f*cking thighs
If we could take back all the time women in this world have spent stressing and talking about our thighs, and the gap or lack of gap between them, we could have probably conquered the patriarchy 30 times by now!
I've had a thigh gap and I've not had a thigh gap, and life was pretty much just as dull regardless of the state of my thighs. My thighs work and they get me up and down hills and they are relatively strong from years of squatting to pee in parking lots (shoutout to college/last weekend) so I'm done worrying about them.
4. My fat fingers
Is this a weird, nitpicky insecurity? Maybe! Probably! But I've always been insecure about my pudgy fingers. I wish they looked longer and more elegant in rings. It's one of the reasons I got acrylics a few months ago. My long, perfect nails definitely help elongate the shape of my fingers but they're still not thin.
But like... who cares? There are more important things to worry about. In the immortal words of Kourtney Kardashian, "Kim, people are dying."
5. My short, thin eyelashes
Really, my eyelashes aren't even that pathetic. I'm just brainwashed and I always compare them to the (fake) lashes used in mascara ads or the eyelashes (extensions) on people with more money than me.
To be clear, there's nothing WRONG with fake eyelashes, but my real lashes will never look like that. And, you know what? It's fine. There's a reason God made mascara.
6. Armpit fat
If God made mascara, then Satan made armpit fat. Like, no matter what I do, it's always there. And it's only my right armpit. Like, get it together, right armpit. I am done worrying about you, right armpit.
7. My thin hair
The other day, Kara was lamenting that she needed to get her blonde bob thinned again. I sighed and said, "I wish I had that problem." I've always had thin, fine hair, and I'm pretty sure the stress of the past few years has only made it thinner. I've spent a lot of time feeling insecure about it. I rarely wear ponytails because I think they look weird.
But the grass is always greener, I guess. If I had super-thick hair, I know it would drive me crazy, too. My hair is nice. It might be thin, but it's still pretty and also, it's hair. What. Ever.
8. My janky teeth
I had braces for SEVEN. YEARS. It was hell. Even after all that, I still don't have the perfect teeth of my dreams. My teeth are small, there are some gaps, and they aren't movie-star white.
But, they're my teeth and they help me eat Cheetos, and for that, they are perfect.
This year, I started noticing very fine, faint lines beginning to develop on my forehead. Immediately, I ordered a tub-load of anti-aging products, serums, and what-have-you. I was really distraught over these lines no one other than me could notice. I googled Botox and chemical peels.
And then I just got really annoyed with myself. I really do not want to be a person who grows more worried about my appearance the older I get. Aging is cool! I grow exponentially smarter and more confident every year, and if a few lines are the price I have to pay for such wisdom, that seems like a fair trade-off.
It's not like I'm going to stop wearing sunscreen and moisturizing daily, but I don't want to stress about stress lines. I have more important things to worry about.
10. The fact that my body grows hair, just like every other body on earth
I'm probably never going to be the kind of woman who completely foregoes shaving my legs or armpits (though if it's your thing, more power to you) but I would like to become a little less obsessive over it. Who cares about a little stubble? It's hot on dudes. Let's make leg hair stubble a trend, too. We can do it.
But really, there's no need for me to feel "gross" or like a monster between shaves. It's hair. It grows on everybody's body. It connects us to animals. And I love animals! All the cutest animals are very fuzzy. Fact.
11. What men find attractive
Honestly, I never cared about this. Have you seen a man? Have you seen the way men dress? I mean, if you've ever worn cargo shorts, your opinion on anything aesthetic is irrelevant, OK?
12. The expensive products celebrities are using on their faces
I love reading stories about the skincare, hair, and beauty products celebrities use. It's fun for me. I like rich people! I will always get excited about a good Top Shelf.
But I really need to stop buying skincare products just because some celebrity with perfect skin says it's what they use. First of all, most people with "perfect skin" don't rely on one product to achieve it. Most of them were born with it. (And we all agree to hate those people, right?) Second of all, celebrities have tons of money and unlimited access to dermatologists and cosmetic procedures I can't afford and don't really want.
That said, I will continue buying literally anything Gwyneth Paltrow tells me to buy.
13. My height
I've been 5'7 since around the 6th grade. Back then, I despised my height. I towered over the boys and most of my friends. I felt like a big, lanky weirdo. Eventually, the boys caught up and my height became less of an issue.
But these days, I often wish I was taller. I have this idea that if I were 5'9, I'd be so tall and willowy, I'd probably be in TSwift's #squad by now and wouldn't have to worry about money anymore. Maybe I just wish I had longer legs.
Whatever it is, I can't change my height and I really actually don't want to. My height is a good height to be. It's tall enough that I can usually reach things on shelves really high up, but not so tall that I can't fit into standard airplane seats.
14. Leaving the house without makeup
I've only recently started doing this. Is that sad? I mean, it's a little sad. I used to, like, take the trash out without makeup on, but that was about it. Nowadays, I will fully run all my errands without a trace of concealer or mascara or anything! It's so liberating! Also, time-saving.
Mostly, I started going to the gym more and I never wear makeup to the gym. I realized, at the gym, I was makeup-free in front of a bunch of people and it wasn't scary at all. And then I was free!
Side note: one of the best parts of growing older is realizing how very little other people in this world notice you. We're all minding our own business. When you figure out how tiny you are, only then you can feel very strong.
15. The fact that my curls aren't perfect and never will be
You know all the beauty articles online and magazine ads for "curly hair" featuring models whose hair was clearly blown out and then curled with a curling iron? Yeah, no one's hair actually looks like that.
Embracing my curls took me a while in life, and while I still only wear it natural about half the time, I've grown to be cool with the fact that I'll never have bouncy, uniform, perfect ringlets with no effort whatsoever. Because, literally no one does.
16. The number on the scale
Like I said, I've always dealt with some serious body-image issues. My therapist tells me I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which means I have a really hard time knowing what my body really looks like. When I see my body, I apparently see something very different (and much less appealing) from what most people see. But it's hard for me to believe my therapist because I literally don't understand! Hence the "dysmorphia." My brain's a bitch.
One thing that's been really useful for me in my struggle with hating my body less is getting on the scale as little as possible. If I gain or lose a substantial amount of weight, I can generally tell by the way my clothes fit or just the way my body feels.
Sudden weight gain or loss can be a sign of a health issue, so it's important to stay in tune with your body, but there is no need for me to step on a scale every single day (and let's be honest, sometimes three or four times a day) just to base my sense of self-worth on whatever number pops up. No more.
17. Getting back down to my "lowest weight"
When I try to remember the times I was at my skinniest in recent years, I realize that it was either when I was dumped in 2015 and was too sad to eat and lost 17 pounds in a month, or when I got a stomach bug in 2014 and lost 14 pounds in a month. I don't really want to recreate either of those times if that's what it takes to get down to my lowest weight.
I know the weight I feel best at, and that's a good place for me to hang out. I really shouldn't be fantasizing about another stomach bug that will help me vom my way down to a size 2 again.
18. The size of my boobs
My boobs have been firmly at a B cup since I was around 21 and got on the pill for the first time. (Shoutout to hormonal birth control for giving me the body puberty failed to!) B cups are pretty average, but I live in a family of LARGE-breasted women. Seriously, when I stand next to my sister, I might as well be a scrawny teenage boy.
But there are blessings to smaller boobs, and I've grown more thankful for them over the years. I can go without a bra if I want, and I never have to deal with the stress of boob-induced back pain or finding a sports bra that can handle me.
I love you, boobies. Thanks for being you.
19. Period bloat
While I've dealt with body-image issues my whole life, never are they more pronounced than during the day or two before my period starts. I get very bloaty and my self-hatred soars to unknown levels. Once a month, I consider literally throwing away my entire closet because everything looks terrible on my stupid body and I hate it.
It's exhausting. In the future, I want to be gentler with myself and more mindful in those moments of self-consciousness. It's important to ask myself where this feeling is coming from. When I really take the time to sit down with myself and analyze my feelings, I can realize those self-inflicted insults are coming from a place of turbulent hormonal shifts rather than anything actually based in reality.
20. Whether my makeup is "feminist" or not
I honestly don't have any energy left to decide what's "feminist" and what's not. I believe in the equality of men and women, in every way. And that makes me a feminist. And my eyeliner in no way negates that belief. End of statement.
21. Men who like women who "don't wear makeup"
If I hear one more dude say he doesn't like women wearing "tons" of makeup, I will burn a GameStop to the ground.
22. Looking great in every photo
Even Beyoncé takes unflattering photos sometimes, y'all. Go easy on yourselves.
23. Taking too many selfies
My Instagram is, like, mostly me. But also, it's my Instagram and I can do with it what I wish. I always forget to take photos when I'm out doing things or hanging out with friends, but when I'm just lying on the sofa and I like the way my skin looks, you better believe I'll snap a quick pic and post that shit. I feel no shame, and I never will.
24. My top lip
My bottom lip is very full and I've always been insecure about the way my top lip sort of disappears above it, especially when I talk or smile. I've often daydreamed of lip injections, but I think I'm actually too chicken-shit (not to mention broke) to really try it, so I'm stuck with the lips I've got.
And they're not even bad! It's a nice mouth. It's great for lots of things, like, as with teeth, eating Cheetos! (P.S. If you want to buy me anything for my birthday, Cheetos are a great idea.)
I have several scars on my body from various things, like injuries and surgeries. I've always felt weird about them and occasionally even used makeup to cover the scars in visible spots like my arms and legs.
But maybe I shouldn't, because they're kind of cool. Every scar is a story of something I survived and I should feel proud, not embarrassed.
26. How anything about my face or body compares to anyone else's face or body
This is what it all comes down to, really. There are always going to be people who have things I don't have. Whether it's more money or less money, bigger boobs or smaller boobs, they will always exist. And I can't spend all my time and energy wishing I had what they had. I'm tired of it and I'm done.
Comparison and envy can be useful tools, but when it comes to things related to physical appearance, it just does more harm than good.