It felt like putting on a mask

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?

I just turned 30 and actually still feel in my 20s although my view on “beauty” has developed. In my teenage years and early twenties I acted as if it’s not important how one looks. Bigger-sized clothes felt comfortable, make-up took too much time to put on and my hair had to be fixed quick and easy.

Gabbers

Around me there were different types of people: “Modepoppen” – always following fashion/trends and a lot of make-up; “Kakkers” – expensive clothes (brands), rich parents; “Gabbers” – track-suits, listening to House-music; and  “Alto’s” -alternative clothes, organic food, blowing. I decided it didn’t bother me and I didn’t want to belong to any group, but I also liked to wear the specific Levi’s everyone wanted and the Olily shawl (Kakkers), so I ended up also wearing this. The same with shoes…a special trend and a year later I had those shoes. For clothes I looked for which colours suited me and which didn’t. Wearing bigger-sized clothes felt good but also camouflaged my female figure (which I was insecure about).

My eyesight isn’t that good. I needed glasses at the age of 12, but I refused to admit I couldn’t see that well. The moment I took driving lessons I had to wear glasses, which meant I only wore those during driving and watching TV. I didn’t like spending much time doing my hair, but I noticed I spent more time than I would admit. I also tried to wear high-heeled shoes, to look taller and also because I heard “men like women in high-heels”. For accessories I wore long colourful earrings, bracelets and necklaces which were cheerful and feminine.

I liked nail polish, but “make-up” was not for me…too much work and it felt like putting on a mask. People need to like me as I am. Sport? What’s that? No, not for me, I didn’t see the value.

In my early 20s I told myself “beauty isn’t that important”, but I thought about and acted more on it than I would admit. I also thought outer beauty is worth nothing when you don’t have a good character. Some girls looked beautiful but were very annoying to get along with. I wasn’t jealous at all.

What does beauty mean to you now?

The new millennium just started when I was in my early 20s. A lot changed around me concerning the beauty-image. The bigger sizes became more tight. I followed the trend. My insecurities about my image began to disappear as I got  older. I found my own style,  more feminine clothes. No more wide-leg trousers or bigger-sized long sleeves but stylish trousers, funny skirts and colourful blouses. I noticed I had a good figure and didn’t need to hide it.

I also noticed that by wearing feminine, colourful clothes (colours that suit me), I feel better. I decided that glasses can be a nice accessory. Now I wear contact lenses (no more wet/damp glasses) because actually I don’t want to hide my beautiful eyes, ha, ha. I wear a little make-up, like  mascara , because I think it looks good and accentuates my eyes. It doesn’t feel like a mask; it’s subtle but effective. I put lip gloss on for parties and holidays. Very impractical but it looks festive. Putting a little make-up on I feel a bit more beautiful and polished. Nowadays I use organic skin cream (for very dry skin) because my health is more important to me.

I have long hair and usually wear it in a ponytail, sometimes loose; most important is that it has to look clean. I often polish my nails and toenails transparent, sometimes colour. It looks good and I feel better. Now I also see the value of sport, not only to maintain my weight but also to feel fit, have more energy and because it’s healthy.

(Outer) beauty  isn’t that important. Above all, I want to be healthy and happy. Real beauty comes from within; that’s clear to me. When I feel good and cheerful, I radiate that. A cheerful and friendly face is more beautiful than an angry or churlish face. The more time I spend to relax, visit friends and family, and be helpful to others, the better I feel and look.

 If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

The fun part is, when I accept more who I am, I take better care of my looks. I believe in God and believe he made me beautiful the way I am/look.  I honour Him by looking well and taking care of myself. That means I don’t only take care of how I look, but I also take time to relax and be there for somebody else. I notice that by doing this I become really beautiful.

I also really enjoy elderly women who are cheerful and enjoy life; that’s how I want to grow older. Outer beauty declines, but a good character lasts and that is an invaluable beauty!

Hanneke, 30

Holland

Mom

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?

Beauty to me in my 20s had a lot to do with my physical appearance. I wanted to look attractive so people would notice me, especially men. I teased my hair into a fashionable bouffant style, wore eye-makeup, blush, lipstick & 3″ high heels. I looked to fashion magazines for my ideal of beauty. I also strove for some inner qualities of beauty–patience,not arguing, criticizing or gossiping (sometimes). I finished off my beauty with a smile which “revealed” my inner cheerfulness.


What does beauty mean to you now?

My ideal of beauty has changed over the years. I found a definition in the Bible which became my new ideal:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, instead it should be that
of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands like Sarah.. . . you are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear”  I Peter 3:3-6
I also found a man who loved & appreciated me for who I was. He found me attractive without bouffant hair,eye-makeup, lipstick or 3″ heels.
Another fact which contributed to my change was placing my trust in God. He has given me hope because He is guiding me as a shepherd. He supplies all my needs (I shall not want), and He protects me(even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death). He has forgiven my sins (through the death of his son Jesus which paid sin’s penalty).Therefore I am free from guilt, regret, & fear. I think these are aging & disfiguring qualities. I strive to do what is right by obeying Him. My mirror is found in God’s words in the Bible. I have peace & joy in my heart.

If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

The difference between my 2 ideals of beauty is because of my love relationship with Jesus Christ, my shepherd. He gave His life for me & loves me. I desire to reveal His beauty.

Linda, mid 60s

Beauty is more inward than outward

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?

In my twenties I enjoyed wearing clothes that were in style. I liked changes everyday, pretty colors, and things that were unique and made me stand out a little. That  was quite important to me. I wore little make-up; it wasn’t that popular then. I was always rather thin and active. I didn’t have to worry about my weight. I was quite proud that I was thin. But I also was very small busted (almost non-existent) and was neurotic about that fact.  It took my self-esteem down a lot.

What does beauty mean to you now?

 Now beauty is more inward than outward. I’m a little happy that I have my gray hair and don’t have to spend time coloring it, and the Bible says its a good thing. That was all I needed to know. My clothes  are about the same. I  watch my weight and try to stay fit. I realize now that frame is inherited and not to be proud of the fact that I’m thinner than most woman my age. My body image is more normal, and (ideas about) bust more normal too. I wear more make-up too, to accent my eyes. Otherwise my face looks very blah. I still like to look by best.

If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

The Bible has influenced my thinking  tremendously. I now believe inner beauty is the real beauty. Kindness and a smile are more beautiful than gold or silver and an expensive outfit. Goodwill (store) here I come!

Mara

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