In the age of doctored selfies and filtered makeovers, it seems natural to slip into the comfort zone of touching up skin blemishes and perceived flaws. Repeatedly, I’ve allowed myself to fall prey to mass marketing campaigns designed to create impossible beauty standards. I’ve become a victim of my ingrained insecurities. Ideals I impose upon myself, do not apply to others. I was talking to an acquaintance the other day, and she remarked that I seem harder on myself than anyone else. I replied: “Well, that makes sense. I am, after all, my own constant companion.”

Since teenagehood (I’m now 35), I’ve struggled with acne, rosacea and imperfect skin tone, and felt tremendously self-conscious about it, to the point of staying home and avoiding public places during flare-ups. My skin issues are partly hereditary, partly symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and partly from poor diet choices–the constant yo-yoing between binge eating and healthy food consumption has ravaged my complexion. Nowadays, I’m attempting to renounce these misguided perceptions of perfection the media heaps upon us (especially women) from a young age, and declare, “Fuckitall! I am fine the way I am. Makeup-free.”

It goes without saying: cosmetics ooze allure (I love a deep red shade of lipstick, and dark eyeliner for dramatic flair); but those products do zilch to enhance the beauty of my soul. My husband tells me often how beautiful I am, and I know he’s not just referring to my physical appearance. He sees the real me–the one who looks less-than-camera ready on a daily basis, but makes him laugh with goofy antics and silly voices, the one in oversized t-shirts and unflattering pajama bottoms with whom he shares nighttime cuddles; the one who’s quick to become defensive, but softens just as easily, and, more often than not, offers attention, affection, and an open ear–not with the intention to take, but to give.

In an effort to self-love above fickle vanity and idealistic standards, I’m sharing a pic of the natural me, just out of the shower, feeling refreshed.

Nomakeup

Makeup-free © Jane Bled

On appreciating natural beauty: I find people most attractive when they are in their element, being themselves without fear of judgment. The people I’ve chosen to allow into my life beyond surface-level possess soul beauty that speaks to my heart, softens my rough edges, and inspires my compassion. I don’t enjoy interacting with most humans I’ve encountered, so my number of friends falls in the category of single digits. My family is small, but close-knit. As I age, I’m less and less likely to reach out to strangers on an intimate level, and I’ve accepted my hermit-like tendencies. I’m learning to nourish what I hold dear: long-term love; I’m learning how to trust my partner, a feat I’ve yet to fully accomplish, but aspire to achieve with time, effort, and patience.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. — Anaïs Nin

Feel free to post a picture of the fresh-faced you, link to your own blog post on the subject of self-acceptance in the comments section; or tell me about the special folks in your life who have helped you discover your inner beauty.

Be well.

Jane