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You Are Beautiful

Posted by Jaime Purinton on Feb 16th 2019

I keep seeing an alarming discussion pop up over and over in some of the online women hiking groups I am a member of. The post comes in a few forms, and are equally ugly. They may change slightly in wording, but the core of all the posts is about wearing makeup while hiking with a barrage of women shaming other women for wearing makeup while hiking. I am shocked to see a normally supportive community of uplifting women hikers turn all colors of snarky when this topic comes up. What is so upsetting about someone wanting to wear makeup hiking?

Interestingly enough, a 2016 study published in Sage Journals discovered how straight women perceive other women’s makeup and it helps to explain why there is such a strong reaction on this topic. The top findings of the study were:

1. Women view other women who wear makeup as more dominant.

2. Women are more jealous of other women who wear makeup because they are seen as more promiscuous.

3. Women are naturally drawn to other women who wear makeup the way they do.

When we delve deep into this, it seems to boil down to the fear many of us have of not being good enough. We’ve been taught we must have perfect make-up, hair, and clothes to be beautiful by the mainstream media. We’ve learned that unless we are beautiful, we won’t get that job we want, or the friends we want, or the romantic relationship we want. According to the Association for Psychological Science, people that are seen as more attractive are treated better in most areas of their life than those deemed not as attractive. It’s a tough standard to live up to, and then throw in the other additional stresses of life and we get resentful, worn out, and maybe even a little bitter. Check out these seriously astonishing statistics posted on https://heartofleadership.org/statistics/ on just how we feel about ourselves:

  • 74% of girls say they are under pressure to please everyone (Girls Inc, The Supergirl Dilemma)
  • 98% of girls feel there is an immense pressure from external sources to look a certain way (National Report on Self Esteem)
  • 92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with body weight ranking the highest. (Dove campaign)
  • 90% of eating disorders are found in girls (National Association for Self Esteem)
  • 1 in 4 girls today fall into a clinical diagnosis – depression, eating disorders, cutting, and other mental/emotional disorders. On top of these, many more report being constantly anxious, sleep deprived, and under significant pressure. (The Triple Bind, Steven Hinshaw)
  • By age thirteen, 53% of American girls age 13 are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to…78% by the time girls reach seventeen. (National Institute on Media and the Family)
  • And this is where hiking comes in for so many of us. On the trail we get to escape all that and just be ourselves- in our most natural form. Stripped down of life’s stresses, demands, and expectations, we feel a freedom we only feel while hiking. So, maybe we feel that our “safe space”, where we can get dirty, let our rolls hang out, show off our less than perfect skin sans makeup, and embrace our messy hair is in danger of being infiltrated by perfect, lipstick wearing, curled hair beauties. And when we see that version of ourselves on the trail, they become a mirror reflecting back to us what we have been feeling inside for so long, and we don’t like it. That coupled with our perception (conscious or unconscious) of them being more dominant, sexy, and unrelatable creates strong feelings.

    What if we can just be thankful for those feelings instead of allowing them to turn into disdain for a fellow sister, friend, mother, wife, grandmother, hiker? What if we could feel those feelings of not being good enough and just let them go? Imagine the true freedom you would have if you could do that. Be thankful you’re you, makeup or not, and that you are in the perfect place of your journey learning how to be a better and kinder version of yourself. And if it takes a beautiful, strong, sexy, makeup wearing woman to remind you of that, be thankful for her, and lean into it with an open heart. Your life will change in so many magical ways if you can do that.

    Learn to love that part of yourself that doesn’t feel good enough, the part that compares, the part that may feel envious or judgmental. Forgive yourself for being hard on yourself and others. We need to love and support other women, makeup or no makeup, and choose not to contribute to this societal programming of forcing our perceptions of how someone should look onto someone else. It just furthers this deep-rooted fear of not being good enough, of not being the beautifully celebrated individual we all are. If we could get this part right, the amount of love being shared would alter the entire world.

    What if we replaced “makeup” with fat, disabled, black, white, childless, poor, or gay. Would you still think she doesn’t belong on the trail? We all have a place in nature, regardless of race, sex, social status, and how we look.

    You are beautiful, makeup or not, and I love you.