Proud2Bme | Reclaim Your Beauty Routine (Or Lack Thereof)

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Reclaim Your Beauty Routine (Or Lack Thereof)

By Pooja Patel--We all have our daily rituals—whether it’s using a particular lotion or applying a certain makeup, there is some sort of routine we often choose to subscribe to. When I wake up in the morning, I brush and floss my teeth, wash my face with the same Clean & Clear face wash I’ve been using since I got my first pimple at the age of 13, and pat my skin dry. I then put a healthy dose of baby lotion on my face, and sometimes I’ll put on a lipstick, gloss or stain.

This is my daily beauty routine and I know I will feel uncomfortable if my routine isn’t met. I feel unsightly without clean skin, scared to speak without minty-fresh breath, and sometimes I feel small without my lipstick or stain. In contrast, when I follow my routine, I feel strong. The question is: who is this daily routine for?—is it for me, or is it for a societally-embedded idea of achieving a male gaze, or for receiving affirmation or acceptance? Moreover, what makes a beauty routine empowered or subversive?

When considering a beauty routine (or perhaps lack thereof), it is always important to point out that comfort and empowerment are the most crucial factors to consider. If, on Monday, I feel kickass in my NARS lipstick, then I’m going to wear it—even if my grandma thinks it is way too bold for the occasion. If I don’t feel kickass in my NARS lipstick on Tuesday, then I’m not going to wear it.

On a given day, deciding what I need to feel empowered changes, and I think that’s okay. When you are the one choosing what makes you feel badass, smart, powerful or chic, and are willing to acknowledge that the things that make you feel that way are subject to change, then that defines empowerment.

However, this concept becomes slightly more complicated when societal norms are considered. For example, I like washing my face twice a day and applying lots of lotion, but I am not quite sure if I actually like the feeling of clean skin because it makes me feel good or because the idea was reinforced by the societal norm of cleanliness being ideal.

I am aware that clean skin makes me feel good and that others appreciate it, and while that is not ideal I think it is unfair to say that I am not empowered in my decision. Yes, products like makeup may have stemmed from a society—built for males—that urges women to attain the male gaze or please men, but that doesn’t mean that it has to remain that way.

I think it is vital to reclaim, or take back, makeup, take back sexuality, take back whatever was used to make us subversive. I know others may like my clean skin or lipstick (and part of me does appreciate that because it is okay to give and receive compliments), but I am sure as hell going to make sure that my beauty routine is for me by reclaiming the products or tactics once used to make women feel small. So go ahead girl—reclaim, reclaim, reclaim.

About the blogger: Pooja Patel studies neuroscience and philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. She does research at a CU neurobiology laboratory, which emphasizes anticipation behaviors, circadian rhythms and biology. She has interned off and on at the National Eating Disorders Association for about two years. Pooja enjoys reading, dancing, watching mindless TV and keeping up with fashion trends.

Also by Pooja: 

Dress Codes Are Body-Shaming and Sexist

Lauren Conrad Bans "Skinny"

Lena Dunham and the Body-Positive Workout Selfie

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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