My mother always told me, Exfoliate. Moisturize. Wear sunscreen.
It’s hard to say when it really was that I started caring about my looks. I forget what ran through my mind when I first stepped into a parlour and asked to get my eyebrows threaded. I forget if I was shy the first time I let someone wax my legs. Or when it was that a fifteen minute ritual of trying not to blink while shakily drawing my eyes turned into a quick, confident stroke in the elevator on my way to class.
I realize that for most of us, the transition happens seamlessly. Somewhere along the way, between all the classes and lunch breaks, high school crushes and magazine covers, we realized how important it was to look good. Perhaps its inevitable. I would be lying if I said I haven’t spent my fair share of time in the front of the mirror squeezing the blackheads at the end of my nose, applying toothpaste to the stubborn pimples on my forehead or being mildly unhappy with the 5th outfit I tried for a night out.
Roald Dahl, in one of my favourite books wrote – “You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Makes me wonder what it would be like if the way you lived reflected on your looks. Perhaps we would all try harder to be better people.
What if one day, your inner self and physical self were turned inside out, how confident would you be of yourself? Would you be pleased with what you saw?
If for every time you lied to a loved one, it left a scar on your skin, would you still do it? If for every time you were hurtful, your hairline would recede ever so slightly, would it stop you? If for every time you ignored your mother’s phone-calls, it added a new stretch mark to your body, would you still do it as easily?
What if for every time you taught a child a new game, or fed a stray, we’d loose a pound on our waists, maybe we’d be more giving? If taking the time to answer our grandfathers’ questions could reduce signs of ageing, maybe we’d be more patient? If the perfect tan came, not from the heat of the sun, but from the warmth of a hug, maybe we’d be more loving?
I realize that looking good has become so important to us, it could drive us to do things we’d otherwise never have the inspiration for. Maybe if we lived our lives the way Dahl would’ve wanted us to, we’d be very different people. I wonder how radically different our priorities, decisions and personalities would be in a world where doing good was so superficially, yet so tangibly rewarded.
Imagine living in a world where everyone was competing to make it a better place.
Sometimes, I look around me, at my friends and family, people I grew up with, and wonder what they look like on the inside. Sometimes, I look into a mirror and wonder if I could confidently say my inner self is better than my reflection.
But most times when I look into the mirror, I notice the blackheads at the tip of my nose, the stubborn pimples on my forehead, the stray hair between my eyebrows.
And then, like my mother always told me I should, I Exfoliate. Moisturize. Wear Sunscreen.
Painting by Norman Rockwell