When I hit tween-hood, I had what I’d call a healthy curiosity for beauty products and accessories. I remember in grade five or six occasionally sneaking makeup to school, applying it in the washroom, and then taking it off before I got back on the school bus home. Though it’s now often overridden by an unending pursuit for comfort, over the years I’ve experimented with high heels, skin-tight jeans, push-up bras, etc.

Over the years I’ve also found myself caught up in mini-obsessions to do with how I look, focusing on one self-dramatized flaw for an amount of time, then finding something else wrong.

It started with acne as a teenager—countless formulas to try and fix it, and when they didn’t work, products to at least try and cover it up.

When I was in high school I needed dental work; when my parents asked if we could wait a couple years for dental coverage, I threw a fit because I felt having braces at my high school prom would be a tragedy. Skip ahead to the end of grade 12, I have a faux-hawk and I’m too self-proclaimed punk rock to go to prom anyway.

When I was in college, I endured five stitches to the forehead after a melodramatic, completely sober crash in my dorm room, leading to years of bangs, vitamin E, and emu oil. At one point I even consulted a dermatologist to see if they could laser flatten out the little raised scar tissue, to no avail.

Through it all, I have to credit my parents for humouring my coming-of-age vanity. They took me to cosmetic appointments and even offered beauty advice when neither of them really had any.

Since having all these appearance concerns, I’ll admit now most of my focus is just on giving myself enough time to do personal hygiene practices, never mind beauty routines and fix-me-ups. So, bearing that in mind, I’d like to offer my opinion on looking your best. Here are some beauty secrets I’ve learned over the years:


Beauty is comfort

To quote Vancouver-bred author, Michael Hingston, from his book The Dilettantes: “Sweatpants, flip-flops, golf visors—I’ve seen yoga pants with a dress shirt. Tucked in. In Vancouver, casual is a right.” And on Vancouver Island, surrounded by some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, we push that right to its limit.

Beauty is creativity

Your face is a canvas and it can be fun to paint it up. Using makeup as a creative tool can be as rewarding as any other creative pursuit: the process is therapeutic and it’s satisfying to have a final product at the end.


Beauty is embracing, not hiding

It’s sad when beauty products are used by women to hide instead of enhance or just glam up. Looking back at all the products I had used to cover up my teenage skin, I now even find the name “concealer” pretty disarming.


Beauty is routine

We are creatures of habit, especially when we’re settled in one place for a while. There’s a certain amount of ease in knowing that you’re going to wake up in the morning and do the same routine day to day, whether that ranges from a quick shower and getting dressed to something more complex.


Beauty is bumps, bruises, scars, and chips

In the era of snapping every new outfit and hairstyle to share on Instagram, I think it’s important to remember that pictures are a moment in time, and that beauty is not stagnant. How we look changes day to day as we age, grow, and experience, and that’s a beautiful thing.


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