Monday, October 30, 2006

Makeup and Mirrors

Confidence is a strange thing for me. I tend to believe that if I am not perfect, than I have failed. All I see when I look in the mirror are my flaws (the acne which is worse than any I have ever seen on an adult woman, the five leftover pounds from pregnancy that won't move off my thighs, the jawline which really should be less strong, the shoulders which should be less broad). It isn't just my appearance over which I obsess, I also am highly critical when it comes to my abilities, my intelligence, my personality, and, yes, I always find that any and all flaws are grounds for self critique and hatred. It is exhausting, this exacting standard by which I measure myself (and to which I can never measure up) and the subesquent lack of faith this inspires in me.

Whenever I get down about my physical appearance, I try to remind myself of one very simple truth: beauty is not merely skin deep, it is pretty much achievable by almost anyone. Of course, I have my doubts about this some days. And then, sometimes, I mention my belief to other people and get a resounding "so not true" and then wonder if maybe this is just massive arrogance on my part.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to read (in an article about the proliferation of same-sounding, blonde-girl pop records) the following sentence:
If there is one thing we have learned from great Hollywood makeup artists like the late Kevyn Aucoin, just about anyone without severe craniofacial deformities can look TV sexy with enough lighting, spackle, tweezing and shellac, if they are properly blow-dried and in a comely mood. Add D cups, rhinoplasty and peroxide, and the world is your birthday pony.
What I find amazing is that anyone takes much pride in their appearance at all. Or rather, I can't imagine why anyone would think their "hotness" means anything more than their willingness to invest in maintenance to a degree that others are not, it's like taking pride in having a really nice lawn--sortof understandable, but do you really think it makes you different from other people?

I wear glasses most days and really only wear makeup if I think it is professionally necessary (i.e. will I be dropping off headshots at my agent's office that day or will I be running into someone who may cast me in something a few months from now?) Some days when I am getting ready for an audition, I look in the mirror and I almost see what other people tell me they see and I think perhaps I ought to make the effort and do myself up regularly. However, deep down, I am not sure if it would make a difference in how I see myself.

When I was younger, I was made to understand (by my high school drama teachers) that I was a character actress, that roles like Juliet and Portia would be played by pretty girls so I should just forget about even auditioning for such roles. It didn't matter that some people called me "beautiful" because, you see, I wasn't "pretty" (which in the 80s meant too ethnic and too goth-though we didn't call it goth back then). Add this to my flat out fear of auditioning and my lack of confidence in my abilities and suddenly my lack of motivation as an actor makes quite a bit of sense. I tend to beat myself up when I think of all the things I didn't even try to do as a teenager and young adult because I was so afraid of failing, so afraid of being told I had no talent or that talent was superfluous in my case, I still could never get the role. So here I am, at 34, realizing that not only are there roles I will never play because I am just not right for them (Blanche Du Bois, for example), there are roles that I, perhaps, could have played when I was younger if only I had believed in myself, but now I have grown too old for them.

I envy the girls who believe so much in their own beauty that it doesn't even matter if it is true or not, their belief makes it real (even if an objective look at reality would reveal their lack of pulchritude). I wish I could have been like that twenty years ago, ten years ago, yesterday. I can't help but wonder how many more opportunities, doors I will not even recognize as such except when I look back and see they have closed, I am denying myself because I still can't find it in my heart to take that leap and have faith that I may fly.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous kim said...

I'm much prettier in my head than in reality. I did not always feel this way, but somewhere over the past couple of years I have become extremely comfortable with myself. So pictures tell a different story, but I think the girl I see in the mirror is pretty.

9:22 AM, November 01, 2006  
Blogger tammara said...

My daughter is heavier than I was at her age, but she doesn't worry about it or let it stop her from being waaaay more in shape than I was. She isn't the perfectionist that I was about her looks, and therefore she believes she is attractive, even while she'd gladly take a smaller waist or longer legs. She is so much more confident, and I love this about her - but it makes me a little sad for my high school and early 20's self - that I was so sure I wasn't perfect enough at whatever, and therefore I didn't try. I wasn't a good enough writer, though I had novels brimming in me. I wasn't good enough at sports, though I wanted to run track or join recreational softball teams. I wasn't pretty enough, and I spent years staring at the floor instead of looking people in the eye.

You and I both know our self-critical sides well. We need to tell them to stick a sock in it. You don't want to look back in ten years and realize what you could have been doing at 34 that you aren't doing!

(Now, go write that novel, young lady!)

9:26 AM, November 01, 2006  

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