Well, it happened. January went and ended on us. It feels like only yesterday I was posting Jewish New Years songs and getting ready to go back to school. Now spring semester is in full swing and it’s hard to believe that today is February.
February. It’s not a bad month. The chill of winter starts to fade away (well, it does if you’re lucky enough to live in the South like I do ☺). A good majority of my friends have their birthdays in February, and I love celebrating birthdays. I’m a total birthday dork! Just let me know when your birthday is coming up, I’ll definitely do a shout-out of some kind just for you. Even if I don’t know you. Because birthdays are special— you were given a life to live! How exciting! I’m happy for you just for that. Also, if you’re having a birthday, you survived another year on the roller coaster of life. Congratulations! Happy Birthday.
Anyhow, I digress. February. February is full of birthdays for me, but it also contains that one over-commercialized and over-pinkified holiday:
Single Awareness Day (AKA St. Valentine’s Day).
Take your affectionate gift exchanges elsewhere, you non-single people out there— couples, or whatever you call yourselves— this post is not for you! This is for all the single ladies (“aalll the single ladies…” come on. You know you started singing it too).
My sisters in single-hood. Let us ignore the heart-shaped chocolate boxes and lacey-pink cards, let us ignore the sappy songs on the radio and the sparkly jewelry. It’s time to take back February! I say we celebrate things our own way: let’s celebrate ourselves.
What does this mean, you ask? It means that I want us to stop trying to change ourselves for the sake of presentation and just love ourselves. No more changing ourselves to try to attract a boy. No more looking in the mirror and saying, “Why? Why don’t I have a Valentine this year? What is wrong with me?”
Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you.
Nothing. Nada. Not a single thing. You are beautiful! We are all beautiful. We’re taught to think differently; we are taught that our natural state is not enough. Change your hair type, says the world. It’s too curly, too straight, too thick, too fine. Change your face, says the media. Your eyelashes are short and thin, your face is flawed, your cheeks are too pale (or in my case too red). Change your body, change your clothes, wear this, don’t wear that. This will bring you Valentines, they say. Boys like this.
It’s all a lie. You don’t need that stuff to be beautiful and attractive. You don’t need it! Put it away if you think you do!
Now if you love wearing makeup and styling your hair and all that, don’t stop reading and shun me yet. Hear me out. I wear makeup sometimes, and I love to do my hair. It’s fun! I do it because I enjoy it. I don’t do it because I think it will change the way people perceive me.
But I used to. I started to use makeup because I thought, “This, this will make me more attractive. My face is a problem, and this is the solution.”
No. Just no. That is such a damaging way to think. Every day you think that about yourself, you add another bruise to your self-esteem. Self-esteem is under attack from enough outside sources already; you don’t need to be destroying it from the inside too.
I was lucky enough to catch this early on in myself and address it by stopping with the makeup for a little while and stepping back to remind myself of who I was: a loved daughter, sister, and friend, and most importantly a child of God. I don’t need to hide myself or pretend to be something I’m not to attract anyone. Those who I need in my life, those who are true quality friends, will find me and befriend me for who I am, and nothing else.
Now here comes the great part. Once I felt comfortable with who I was, I went back to wearing makeup. I started actually doing more to my hair. But my attitude has completely changed, and it makes a huge difference. I do these things because I enjoy them, because it’s a way I can express myself, and not because I feel ugly without them.
I want every girl in the world to understand that you are not a product to be enhanced and advertised. You are a person, a spirit, a soul. You have intrinsic value; remember my birthday spiel earlier? You’re alive! God thought you were perfect for this time and this place where you are, and that’s no small feat; times are hard! He must think you’re pretty special to be up for this job. That automatically should make you feel better than wearing the best most expensive mascara in the world.
I hope no one into cosmetology out there thinks I’m a hater right now. If your talents lie in the beauty/fashion area, if you are passionate about it, go for it! It is an art. It’s “art you can live in,” like my favorite YouTube hair-tutorialist Kaley said in one of her videos (it’s towards the very end). But if you find that without these beauty tools you feel you are ugly and without value, you may want to take a break. You will find that you don’t need those things. And if any of your “friends” seem to think otherwise, it’s them you don’t need. They are pulling you down and probably have their own vices they need to address.
So. Girls. Beautiful lovely girls. Let’s take this February and make it ours. Truly ours. Don’t fret over the lack of a Valentine! Be each other’s “Valentines.” Compliment your girlfriends on how beautiful they are this month. Tell them how spectacular they are and that everything else they wear is just an expression of that, a sparkly shadow. Let’s take off the “I-wish-I-looked-like-her” glasses and realize that we’re all in this together, and we’re all pretty enough on the inside to make anything external insignificant.