The Deconstruction of "Pretty"

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The Deconstruction of "Pretty"

My roots are showing and so are my freckles. My accessories are either non-existent and/or not matching. My nails are the opposite of “manicured” and my toes…well, let’s not even go there.
Just a few months ago, I would not be caught dead looking like this. If I showed up to work with my bare face showing, without a layer of foundation on it, I would get dirty or sympathetic looks. “Are you feeling alright?” People would ask. If you show up to work in the cosmetic industry looking less than picture perfect, something just MUST be wrong. God forbid you come in without perfectly lined, bright and bold lips and eyes.
“You look tired.” Others may say. Fuck. I always hated that one. So, my face- as it is- naturally looks tired? I’m twenty-five years old, how “tired” can I look?  But I was jaded and believed the stigma.  I believed it all.  I wore the need for perfection like a mask.
The world where I worked, and flourished, was built and is sustained on driving the need to achieve physical perfection.  Just pick up any magazine or turn on the television.  See those actresses and models?  They are promoting the products I was responsible for selling and training hundreds of others to sell, since I began my career in the industry as a teenager.  “Don’t they look perfect?  Well you can too!” we said over and over so many times, I believed it.  If I just do one more touch up in the mirror, one more layer of foundation, amp up the color on my cheeks…I, too, could look like the models, right?
I would get up hours before work to make sure every square inch looked perfect before going out the door and into one of my stores to train, manage and sell with them.  I had to set an example.  And I did, but my gosh, was it a lot of work!  Nails, check. Hair, check. A+ outfit (always all black), check!  Shoes (high-high heels), check, check, check!  A leader in this industry does NOT show up half-assed, and I was not going to be the first.  I was attempting perfection every day.  Until now. Oh, if my old self could see me now. She would pout her lips sympathetically and say “time for a makeover, honey. This.  Isn’t.  Working.”  Little did I know at the time, I was the one who was “not working.” 
Leaving this faslely perfect and infectious world to go see the real world, has taught me so many lessons already, namely about myself. The world wants to accept you for who you really are, imperfections and all. People want to know the real, raw, truthful you, and if you can be brave enough to show it, your entire life will change- in the best way.  The connections become deeper, the world around you looks brighter and the world doesn’t seem so strange anymore.
Once I felt brave enough to admit what I really wanted (to travel, to write, to wander) and to act on it, I left my job, got rid of everything and booked a one-way ticket across the world.  I couldn’t fit all the cosmetics I wanted to bring.  I couldn’t bring my beautiful handbags or high heels.  I had to box up my Chanel cross-body bag and my designer jewelry.  It sits in my childhood bedroom in the closet, doing what it has always done: nothing.  When preparing to leave, I had to pack the essentials- only what could fit in my backpack.  Down to absolute basics.  What did I really need to get by?  As it turns out, not much.
When I made the decision to go, I began the process of revealing my truth.  I am knee deep in this process now, and I will be honest, it is hard. It’s challenging- everyday.  Being alone, bared down and feeling vulnerable is not easy.  It is hard work; but the most meaningful work I have ever done, nonetheless.  Everyday I get closer to feeling at peace with myself and the world around me.
I have stopped giving a damn how I look most of the time. The false lashes I packed (Yes, I snuck them in my backpack last minute) rarely come out of the box, unless there is a special occasion, and my skin is no longer masked to perfection. I have deconstructed the image of perfection I always sought after, and have started to re-image myself in another way- a way that doesn’t require any altering at all. I am just me. I wake up and get out the door to go explore whatever city I am in within thirty minutes. THIRTY MINUTES! Unheard of.  How much time I am saving myself for other (much more important) things is truly amazing, in and of itself.
My days have a sole purpose to see and explore the world around me, in it’s entirety. The only thing I require of myself each day is that I show up. I must show up to my own life and be seen- authentically. This was so daunting at first. “What if they don’t like me?” fear whispers in my head, and I choose to ignore the thought. It doesn’t matter who likes me or doesn’t like me or thinks I’m pretty or unpretty. I am learning to like me better, and that’s what counts, because the more you like yourself, the better you are to the rest of the world. Self-acceptance, from what I have experienced so far, leads to outward kindness and acceptance of others. Once I accepted that I could not- and will not ever- be perfect, I realized and accepted that the rest of the world isn’t either. People are flawed. The entire world…is deeply flawed, and that’s what makes it interesting.
We are all carrying around flaws and insecurities we have tried to hide or cover up at some point- either internally or externally. The magic lies in accepting the “ugly” so you can find your true “pretty.”
Headed out the door with no makeup on!  (And no, thank you, I am not tired. I am ALIVE and WELL.)

By |2015-09-16T12:16:12+00:00September 16th, 2015|Dear Diary, Solo Female Travel|0 Comments

About the Author:

On August 14th, 2015 I left my life in the United States behind with the intention to never look back. I had the "American Dream" and I woke up from it, to create a new reality for myself. I sought out beauty in a world that was increasingly dark for me at the time and ended up finding more than I bargained for. With only a backpack, I traveled across Europe, South East Asia and then on to Africa. With over 30 countries stamped in my passport, I've become an entirely new version of myself with a broader perspective on what it means to be a woman in today's world. My hope is that by sharing my stories and featuring women like me from around the world, we can inspire others to break down their own internal barriers and go cross a few international borders while they're at it. I truly believe travel can be healing to a troubled soul, empowering to the lost and rejuvenating for the exhausted. Perspective is everything, and I believe in the power of "going global," what about you? is a site that started out with my stories and grew into a platform for women all around the world to tell their travel tales of trials and triumph. We all believe that the more you see of the world, the better you can be as a person who inhabits it. Women encouraging other women to grow, travel, evolve- that's what SGG is all about. ---> Read my very first blog post (see "Archives" for August 2015) to learn how this all began.

No Comments

  1. Forrest September 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Great great write up. So glad that this aspect has begun to sink in for you! Living and not caring what others think or what others may say is in my opinion one of the keys to living happy. It doesn’t take all the stuff society has forced on us to be the person we were meant to be. It only takes us to be us. Belive me! The more you do it the more vindicated you will feel. Keep up the awesome blog posts and pics! Living vicariously through you!

  2. Rob Lewallen September 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    My friend,
    Well well done. And know this. Since we met, I have always considered you, both inside and out, a truly beautiful person. You have always inspired me and now even more so after I’ve read this post. This new adventure is definitely bringing out the best in you, HOW I wish I could see the world with you! Mean time, every good wish. I thank God that you and I are friends.

  3. Ginger Apperson September 16, 2015 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    So inspiring, Heather. So happy for you! Look forward to more blogs!

  4. Rachel DiMattia September 19, 2015 at 1:26 am - Reply

    This is absolutely beautiful (and yes I used that word on purpose)! I too left my old life to come travel so I completely connect with how you’re feeling, and you explained it perfectly. Good on you for finding your truth and keep up the positive self-image!

  5. purrlaJ September 20, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Heather! Well done! What a brave and bold act. As you travel through your days as a citizen of the world, may you discover more truths and have the adventure you seek and deserve. You are so open to what life is bringing your way. Soak it all in. And thank you for sharing it. I will travel with you and I look forward to reading more!

  6. Caitlyn February 10, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Love this. I still try to look good everyday, but much less than I used to. It’s really tough to accept your own face especially when others have grown accustomed to the made up version of yourself.
    Really enjoyed your post. I want to achieve this self acceptance.

  7. […] My god, so much has changed.  These moments as I’m staring at the Jessica Alba cover in front of me have me wondering how I could have gotten so far from the person I used to be in just six short months.  The old me really cared about all this stuff.  I worked in the beauty industry after all…it was my job.  I was always supposed to look “pretty” until all that started deconstructing shortly after taking to the road with my big ugly backpack.   […]

  8. Ryan Riley November 8, 2016 at 7:52 am - Reply

    This writing is excellent and needs to be compiled and published! Amazing inside look to a woman who is not only trying to internally trying to figure out who she is but overcoming obstacles along the way to endure the journey. Truly remarkable and I want to read more. I believe a compiling of a book would be the best route and I’d be first in line to read. RRR

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