Today I was complimented, and it got me thinking…
So today I was complimented by a customer, a woman, and it isn’t the first or even second or third time this has happened to me at work. She told me I have beautiful skin, and asked me what products I use. I’ve had similar situations once maybe every few months for years now at work, sometimes being asked what skin care I use, or complimenting my genetics, or just simply telling me my skin is beautiful.
Every time this happens I thank them, sometimes have a little embarrassed chuckle, but inside I’m wondering, what makes my skin beautiful? Why is this something I’m complimented on rather regularly? It’s funny, I can understand my hair being complimented, and I’m flattered instead of confused when someone compliments my hair, because I do strive to have nice hair. I use good shampoos, conditioners, and I get it cut and dyed, and when I’m not lazy I even style it real pretty. I can see that I have good hair, and I can accept and be grateful for a compliment on my hair.
But when I am asked what products do I use on my skin, I can only answer with a bit of embarrassment that I do not use any products for skincare regularly, or even sporadically. In fact it’s very rare, usually only when I have a pimple, that I will use any kind of skincare. I feel embarrassment because I have always felt I should use skincare like most everyone else, but I’m just lazy and don’t want to invest time and money in it. I really only wear makeup when I’m at conventions or for special occasions, I don’t even use concealer to hide the circles under my eyes for work. I’m very natural. And I don’t say this to put down people who use those products regularly; in fact I envy them. I look at people who take the effort to use skincare and do their makeup every day and I think they’re beautiful, a beauty that I don’t feel I can achieve and don’t try to.
Today I really thought about why it embarrasses me so much to admit I don’t use skincare, and why when I look in a mirror I cannot see the beautiful skin they see. All that I see, when looking at my own face, is that I’m starting to get lines on my forehead. I have circles under my eyes and my cheeks tend to be various shades of pink or red because of my fair skin color. I see that when my cheeks are red, there is a spot in an almost perfect circle that remains white, and I think it looks silly and I have no idea what causes it. I have a chicken pox scar by my left temple and blackheads on my nose. I think my eyes are a very pretty mix of green/gold/blue, but that has nothing to do with my skin. My chin breaks out every so often, and at 26 I find this really embarrassing. Sometimes my skin looks really dry and sometimes my forehead feels oily to me.
This is the skin that I get complimented on and don’t know how to gracefully accept the compliments. But when I think about how gracefully and gratefully I can accept compliments on my hair, instead of my skin, I realize something kind of awful. I think our culture teaches us to be grateful for what beauty we can manufacture. We’re pleased when we put a lot of effort into our appearance that it gets noticed. This isn’t wrong, per say, because hard work should always be noticed, but it IS wrong that we cannot so easily accept compliments on things we have no control of. Or, in better terms, our natural beauty. Yes, we all know the media loves to hype up manufactured beauty, and we all know this is wrong, but there is a difference between changing your hairstyle and using skincare and a bit of makeup to change our appearance to better express our emotions or personality than the photoshopped, airbrushed, surgery induced beauty that the media portrays.
We fight now for “natural” but this natural beauty we talk about includes face creams, hair dye, and mascara. We say, because it doesn’t have photoshop or airbrushing, that this is natural. But it’s still a form of manufactured beauty, and it is something we can more easily be proud of than to go entirely without makeup, without our skincare regimes, without the salon visits.
I have good genetics. My skin is beautiful, even if I’m not the one who can see this. Someone else does, and they felt it deserved to be complimented, and instead of feeling embarrassed I will be proud. It isn’t something I have to work for, but that does not mean I do not deserve the compliment. I know very few people who go out regularly without makeup, and fewer still that do not use skincare. I’m able to do this, and still be complimented, and this is not me bragging but rather me learning to accept this without feeling like I do not deserve it. And this isn’t me saying that everyone who uses skincare or wears makeup is manufactured or don’t deserve compliments, because I am sure that for as much embarrassment as I felt for going without skincare, there are likely those of us who have been complimented on beautiful skin and felt embarrassed because it wasn’t natural.
So, when you get a compliment, no matter what it is for, don’t ever feel embarrassed. Feel proud that someone else liked that part of you enough to want to tell you, in a totally non-creepy way, that you’re beautiful, or talented, or just generally awesome. Because you are, and you deserve that compliment.
And this was much longer than it sounded in my head, so if you read this far, allow me to compliment you. You’re an awesome person for reading my tirade. And you’re beautiful :)