The Beauty Secrets My Mother Didn’t Teach Me

…And that’s totally fine

Everything I know about beauty, I learned from Seventeen magazine.

And Teen. And YM… Remember YM? Growing up, I was the odd duck of our forest-loving, outdoorsy family. I loved nature, sure, but I was also born with a seemingly random and insatiable blood lust desire for all things fashion, beauty and avant-garde. When I was five, I renamed myself Dolly and made an outfit entirely out of scarves. As a twelve-year-old, I discovered Rocky Horror and spent weekends learning the Time Warp while practicing the perfect Tim Curry-approved red lip. As a teenager, I dyed my hair and the bathtub a deeply satisfying and deeply permanent shade of purple. There were few limits placed upon my siblings and I — fabulous for creativity — but also no guidelines given. While I was taught to identify a variety of mushrooms, cloud formations and soil horizons while simultaneously chopping wood and building an acceptable fire, my more pressing teenage questions largely went unanswered. Questions such as, how does one shave? What’s foundation all about? And, eyebrow plucking? That’s a thing? My mother was always there, standing over the fire, axe in hand, bare-faced and beautiful and offering zero guidance when it came to outward appearance.

Some girls sat at their mother’s vanity, playing with makeup. In my house, there was no vanity to speak of. And if you were to ask me about the beauty tips, tricks and secrets my mother imbued, my mind would draw a blank. Beauty secrets? No. Those were left to the pages of magazines, skilled college roommates, and my own inexperienced fumbling. I applied the same DIYODS (do it your own damn self) philosophy — also known as hard-headed self-sufficiency — to solving these beauty riddles as I was taught to apply to other areas of life. However, anti-beauty secrets? Yes. Those I did learn from my mother.

Makeup isn’t necessary to know the value of yourself in the world.

If you don’t know how to do something, learn.

If you’re feeling anxious, drink some water. You’re probably just dehydrated.

…OK, that last one might sound random, but I had to throw it in because it works.

While I may not have appreciated it at the time, growing up under the care of a mother who was too busy being creative and curious — and teaching my siblings and I to be the same — to care much about outward appearance allowed us to fully explore our own capabilities, minus the pressure of perfection. We could learn about the world around us, learn to chop wood and be self-sufficient, while also exploring the interests that were all our own. Minus the makeup tray, my siblings and I discovered who we were before we decided who we wanted to project to the world, and I will forever be thankful for that. Now, who wants a bonfire?

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