What Men Have Taught Me About Appearance

When I was younger I was constantly dying my hair. In high school I wanted my golden blonde to be lighter. Bleach, peroxide, dye, you name it. I used it all. I wanted to be Marilyn Monroe blonde. Then I went through a phase were I dyed the bottom half of my hair a medium brown (it’s called a peek a boo and it was pretty popular but one of my worse ideas). If I wasn’t dying it I was permanently curling or straightening it. I was never happy with my natural hair. One day my dad had had enough. He walks into the bathroom as I am dying my brown back to blonde. The bleach stench could be smelled throughout the whole house. “Enough, all of your hair is going to fall out,” he told me. “You were always beautiful, you don’t need to do this to your hair, let it be natural.”

I thought about it while my scalped burn and itched. He was right, I needed to stop this crazy obsession with my hair. That was the last time I ever chemically changed my hair.

A few weeks later I went for a routine haircut. My stylist told me that I had about 6 inches of dead hair. All of the at home dye kits I had used over the years had killed my hair. She told me for it to be healthy I had to cut it off. 6 inches on the ground and once sob fest later I walked out of the salon with above the shoulder length hair. I was so upset, but I learned something that day. Appearance is something WE ALL obsess about. I wasn’t going to do that anymore.

My golden hair began to grow and I accepted the color it became. But my next appearance hurdle was just beginning. I was deeply in love with a boy and I would have bent over backwards for him. He was always worried about appearance. He took longer to get ready than most girls I know. He always smelled good, his outfit carefully chosen and ironed and his hair was always freshly cut. Because he held himself to such high standards I felt as if I had to look as good too. My makeup had to be perfect, my hair always had to be done, outfits were vetoed by him and I would change again and again.

He even went shopping with me to pick out the wardrobe I would wear when I was with him. At first I loved it because I thought he was just taking an interest in me and wanted me to be the best version of me. I was sadly mistaken.

I began to notice that it wasn’t about me. It was always about him. He was worried about his appearance. He had to keep up his reputation. He taught me a valuable lesson in that relationship. Never be with someone who is more worried about your appearance then you are.

Now that I am in a different place in my life I view appearance differently. I take care of myself the way that I want to. Now when I workout its not for vanity but to be healthy and strong. I wear makeup only to work and to go out with my friends. On the weekend I don’t wear it at all. I go food shopping or run to the mall with a clean face and in yoga pants.

I get dressed up for me and no one else. My hair is natural, my skin is more clear, now that I am no longer trying to impress someone. I pick my outfits for comfort and for style, but mostly I pick them out for myself.

My younger brother is another funny story. He follows these twitter pages that are dedicated to female appearance. These people post pictures of slim and fit girls for their many followers. Girls with abs and big boobs, girls with long perfect hair and faces full of makeup. He loves retweeting and reposting these girls. He makes me wonder if society only thinks you are pretty if you look this way. He tells me that he wants his next girlfriend to look like one of those girls. I feel bad for the girls he meets because he is going to hold them up to that high standard, and it’s just not fair.

Society is so obsessed with appearance. In the past I was obsessed with appearance. The men in my life have taught me many important things about vanity. Men place such a high standard on beauty and appearance. But women take this standard and turn in ton insane pressure. My dad told me I would be more beautiful if I was my natural self. I now believe this to be true. But my brother is obsessed with body shape and long hair and I want him to see that there are more important things to look for in a girlfriend. As long as I am happy with myself and understand that vanity isn’t the most important thing in life then I believe that I can be happy.

I hope that the men in your lives can give you a different perspective as well. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Flickr / dbrekke

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