When I was 14, I spent the summer at an “international leadership” summer camp in upstate New York. The summer was full of learning about the cultures of the campers from around the wold, and reflecting on ourselves. One particularly memorable session was on body image. Imagine a large handful of us adolescent girls piled into a locker room, sharing how we really truly felt about ourselves and our bodies. At the time, I had braces and an unfortunate short haircut. In other words, I was solidly in my awkward stage, and had plenty of insecurities to share. But there were many other girls in the group who struck me as absolutely beautiful: long, smooth hair, clear skin, striking eyes. I wished to look more like them. So I was shocked when, as we went around the circle, I heard them say that they felt exactly the same way about their looks and bodies as I did. There was a strange comfort to know how universal these self-doubts were; there was no objective beauty, at least not one that permeated inside.
A few years later, post-college, Leda and I took a day trip up to Tahoe. As we met up, we laughed at ourselves: we had both put on make-up to go snowboarding. We had grown used to it and no longer felt like ourselves without it.
These notions of beauty, of how we feel about ourselves and how we present to the world are complex, and that’s to say nothing of how we perceive others. We’re interested in learning more about your thoughts and behaviors around beauty and make-up. So we’ve teamed up with research expert Meredith on a survey about the variety of habits and perceptions we all have around beauty. All responses will be completely anonymous.
Take the survey here or use the form below:
Image: “Girl Before a Mirror” by Pablo Picasso.