Set the Bar: Beauty Standards in a Shallow World
I am a t-shirt and jeans girl, always have been and probably always will be. And aside from keeping up my tresses when I was relaxed my beauty routine is pretty basic: face wash, toner and moisturizer finished with lip balm. If you see me any given day that’s the chick you will encounter. I recently had an argument with a coworker regarding appearance and growth in corporate America (cue your favorite black theme song). I work in the fashion industry for a global design and manufacturing company. Our company culture is very relaxed, we dress up for meetings and every other day is pretty much up to your professional discretion. From VP's to the mail room everyone wears what they want. I wear jeans and sweaters with boots most days in the winter and my bare face finished with my fro or braids. To some I've figured that can be interpreted as unkempt with my hair (naturals know our hair is a topic of continuous debate) and makeup free face. Here's the realization I have and tried to relay to my coworker- I don't care. Simply put my hair is not ‘cute’ with silky bouncy curls and I don’t have time for the natural hair community bias. It is very thick, coily, kinky, has its fair amount of shrinkage and I love it and rock it. Wearing make up every day is a choice and I personally choose not to wear it. For me it's time consuming and unnecessary; I prefer to save my beat face for special occasions or when I need a pick me up. And rest assured my makeup collection is legit it’s just not used regularly.
I refuse to conform to any standard just because anyone, especially a man says so. This coworker I had the discussion with is a man that insists I need to have a face of makeup and heels on daily. To prove what I’m still not sure. I undoubtedly fall short of the “perfect” woman cocktail of cute, petite, fancily clad, smart, so on and so on. The day a man wear heels for an entire day he may be able to have opinion on my footwear, until then Bye Felicia.
I know, I know I work in fashion- the most superficial industry there is. Granted there are major names like Andre Leon Talley and Kelly Cutrone that seem to dispel the myth but they are anomalies, not the standard. And on the list of ‘things I'm not here for’ rest assured meeting superficial standards is on the list. I have no desire to try to conform to anything that has done me absolutely no favors and everyone is replaceable. I don’t have the time or money to invest in the things that make people “ooh” and “ahh” at work.
Living your life trying to fit into someone else’s standard of beauty will undoubtedly be destructive in some way, to your psyche, confidence or even your wallet. This is the tip of a large iceberg regarding standards of beauty and superficial perceptions. Instead define you and determine your own standards whether it's wearing heels and a beat face every day or rocking your chucks and sew-in there is no wrong way. Yes, you dress to match or go above business standards but don’t comprise yourself in the process. Learn how to maintain the balance. As we know, I offer no apology for my existence- or my appearance and neither should you.
How do you set your standards yourself at work and in life? What are you uncompromising on? What are your thoughts on clothing, hair and beauty at work? What’s your daily routine? Sound off.