For so many years I have fiercely compared myself to so many other people.
Be it other women, other couples or just other people I thought were so much cooler than I was/ am. (Ok…am)
Let’s go way back to the 80’s. I was a little girl who was all about making up dance routines to the Locomotion and my Cyndi Lauper vinyl, creating super awesome trampoline tricks and learning how to plait my hair. I wasn’t a girlie girl and I wasn’t a tomboy. I was a healthy combination of a bit of everything. We were outside kids. We played in the yard, I danced in the yard, my brother and sister made BMX jumps in the yard. I pulled out two chairs and practiced ‘elastics’ over the weekend in the hope that I’d be really awesome at the knees and hips level at recess on Monday. Everything we did was outside and everything we did was about just being ourselves.
My mum never let us wear make up. I was allowed to have my ears pierced but was never allowed to wear anything dangly and outrageous. My mum also made a lot of our clothes. We got around looking a lot like the Von Trapp family but we were always well dressed and a little bit unique. I was never in danger of being told to ‘turn right back around young lady and change your clothes, you’re not going out dressed like that’. I just never dressed ‘like that’.
One thing my mother instilled in me was that natural is best.
She is 100% right.
The world we live in now is vain. We all get sucked into it. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, how you grew up or what values were instilled into your mind- we are all vain.
Why do we worry so much about changing every part of ourselves. Why do we dye our hair, wax our eyebrows, buy ridiculously expensive active wear brands, shave our legs, cut our hair, get botox, have our boobs done, paint our nails…. you get what I mean.
Hardly anyone gets around in their most 100% natural state. We all change things about ourselves. I do it.
Lately I’ve been wondering why.
What’s wrong with my eyebrows the way they are? I mean, no one likes a mono brow… or do they? We wouldn’t even know because everyone alters them to be two eye brows…
What’s wrong with a few strands of grey hair? Whats wrong with your natural hair colour the way it is?
My hair is, and only ever has been, my natural colour. Ok except that one time I left the Army and wanted to be outrageous so I dyed it pink for 5 days.
Anyway, I’ve always had blonde hair. Hair that people are envious of. Hair that women pay hundreds of dollars to replicate.
I feel like I’ve spent the last 20 years beating myself up over who I am and how I look. I do, however, honestly feel like I’ve spent the majority of that time in my most natural state. Sure I get my hair cut, the occasional eyebrow wax or spray tan. If I get my make up done it’s for a serious occasion like my school formal. I don’t wear a lot of make up- but I still wear it sometimes. I’m not into fancy hair and clothes. I have a lot of clothes but they are all sale rack things. I don’t look after stuff so I can’t justify spending thousands on a pair of socks. I like things to be simple.
I feel like I’ve always had at least 10 things I would change about myself in a heart beat. Heres a quick list;
Botox for forehead wrinkles
Stop biting my nails (which I did last year- WIN!)
Grow my hair longer
Cut my hair shorter
Get more tattoos
Dye my hair (still in an attempt to be outrageous)
Wear nicer clothes
Actually own a pair of heels.
Now? I feel like all of that is just so ridiculous (except growing hair… because that just happens).
Over the last few months I stopped comparing myself to other people. It wasn’t something that I worked up to, I just got tired of doing it, so I one day recently I just stopped.
I decided that that girl who is prettier than me, well that’s all she is… she’s prettier than me. So what? That girl who has bigger boobs than me…yep, fact. She does. Who cares. She probably wishes she had my natural blonde hair. I realised that that girl who always has perfect hair probably spent 90 minutes of her day getting it that way. I have an extra 90 minutes I can spend doing a work out, or cuddling my boyfriend, or just chilling out. She probably wishes she had my legs.
We’ve all wished that we had something that someone else has. We’ve all looked at someone and thought ‘I would kill for her eyelashes’ or ‘I wish my skin was tanned like hers’. That same woman is looking at you wishing she had your eye colour, your ass or that top.
I’ve realised that Im fine the way I am.
I’m more than fine. I am perfect. I am beautiful.
I am a woman. I am proud of who I am, where I have come from, what I have learnt and the things I have achieved.
I am proud of my natural skin. I wish that I didn’t have acne scars. I wish that I didn’t have forehead wrinkles. I wish I didn’t still have break outs at 32 years old. I wish that I didn’t have hunchy shoulders.
I will say this again. I am proud of my natural skin. Every part of me tells a story. Every one of those things represents a time in my life.
So what is this all about….?
I want women to realise that being natural is ok. You don’t need make up to try and change the way you look. You don’t need fancy clothes to make you feel good. You don’t need to disguise yourself with stuff that hides how beautiful you really are.
Natural is best.
NATURAL IS BEST!
Of course I still like to wear foundation occasionally. Mascara makes a regular appearance. I’m not all about throwing away the make up kit. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be afraid to show off our natural beauty.
This is where I asked for the help of a gorgeous woman around my age to put herself out there. To not be afraid to be her most natural self in front of the camera and allow me to write about it.
I’m so glad that my gorgeous friend Claire volunteered. Claire is the same age as me. She’s been my friend for 20 years. She originally told me that she wanted to be a part of it because she believes in ‘loving thyself, worts and all’.
Claire is a mum of two. She’s also an extraordinary women who is a lot of other amazing things as well as being a mum. Before her two crazy cherubs came along she was (and still is) a very well established nurse. Her dreams of being a nurse have always been strong. She knew she wanted to help those in less fortunate countries all around the world. She knew she wanted to work with people in Africa. Make a difference.
Claire studied and became a nurse. She lived and worked in the UK in her early twenties. Right before she left to go to the UK, she met Chris. They’ve now been together for well over ten years. They travelled together, they’ve done life together. They’ve grown up together. They have evolved together. Chris proposed to Claire in Venice and they were married at a beautiful winery in Brisbane 5 years ago.
Life works in crazy ways. These two were meant to be together. They are awesome. The best part about these two is that they are completely themselves within their relationship. It’s awesome. They’ve been through a lot of ‘stuff’ together and are just completely accepting of the other one ‘worts and all’.
I think that this is incredibly important in life. Relationships.
Relationships are hard. No matter what anyone says, they are hard work. It’s important to be with someone who loves everything about you- just the way you are.
The person you are with should make you feel like you are enough. That you are ok just the way you are. I see that in these two- massively.
I also see it in my own relationship which I am so grateful for. I can be a dag and that’s ok. I am adored for the person I am.
My partner prefers it when I wear no make up. When I just throw my hair up into whatever it lands in and go out in shorts and a singlet. I never feel any pressure other than the pressure I put on myself. I never feel like I have to impress. I still love a nice dress and dressing up cute- but it feels like it’s all the more special because it doesn’t happen all the time.
So now these two have two kids and life can be really crazy at times. They are awesome parents and they run their lives in a way that allows them to be awesome parents.
Being a parent means that you become a role model. It means that your behaviours are mimicked by these little people. It means that everything you say and do has an impression on young minds. So what message are we sending if we constantly cover up who we really are? What message are we sending to these little people if we stand in front of a mirror saying ‘oh I hate my wrinkles’ ‘my ass looks huge’ ‘I need to lather my face in chemicals to look like a plastic kardashian’?
We’re not sending any sort of decent message at all…
‘ I just want my little girl to grow up and be proud of herself in her own skin! I also think I have scars and I can either choose to hide them or be proud of them because each one tells a story and reminds me of how brave i can be! Soppy I know but it’s my little positive self talk’
– Claire Marks, 2015
I think we’ve forgotten about our responsibility to ourselves as well as our responsibility to the little people of the world.
We owe it to ourselves to love who we are, because we are beautiful.
We owe it to the little people to show them that being yourself is absolutely ok. Being natural is the best way.
So what does this all mean?
I think that we’ve forgotten how to stay true to ourselves. We’ve forgotten how to love the skin we’re in. We’ve forgotten how to look at ourselves in the mirror with a positive mindset and love what we see.
Go look in the mirror now (if you can). Smile at yourself.
Name three things you love.
Do not prefix the statement with a negative. e.g. ‘I wish my boobs were bigger, but I guess they look nice in this top’. Just say ‘My boobs look nice in this top’.
In my relationships I’m not allowed to prefix anything with a negative. I’m not allowed to say anything negative about my body, my skin or my hair. I don’t get away with anything negative, and I’m grateful.
I think that everyone should do the same. Don’t allow yourself to be negative towards you. Be positive.
Don’t allow yourself to be convinced that you need all that make up. That you need a $200 outfit to feel pretty. You don’t need to change anything about yourself because you are beautiful.
You should stay true to who you are and own it.
That is the biggest message I am trying to get across here…
It’s important. Give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack and be positive.
Love who you are. Set an example to those who are growing up… and watching us.
Thank you to my beautiful friend, Claire for helping me out with my project. This was so important to me and I am so glad I had the help of someone so naturally beautiful. Someone who is so comfortable with who they are and who shares the same values as me.
So for a bit of fun I tried to recreate a photo of Claire. This was taken in London over ten years ago.
I reckon that she is as beautiful today as she was back then. She’s natural, she’s confident and she’s real.