Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

When my daughter was 7, she wanted to be a rock star for Halloween. We bought her a sparkly outfit, and I got the idea of a make up and a hairdo which she agreed to. I was pretty happy with my accomplishment, especially given that I am not all that interested or experienced in creating make-ups and hairdos. I was anticipating her looking in the mirror and giggling happily ... what a cute little glamorous rock star she was. 
Anya looked in the mirror and instantly broke into tears.
- What's wrong? You look so pretty! Don't you like it?
- No! I like MY face!

A similar thing happened when she was 4 - an artist painted a butterfly on her cute little face at the summer fair we attended. As soon as Anya looked in the mirror, she started crying and demanded to wash her face. Of course, we did, as soon as we paid the artist for her pretty amazing job. 
"I like my face!" 
How often do you say things like that looking at yourself in the mirror?
I admit, I don't do it very often. Not as often as I want to. 
But I know that when I am happy and content with myself, I like my face just the way it is. Not because I am such a striking beauty that people faint just having a glance at me.
Not because I have a flawless skin (I don't - when I do in some of my photos, it is only a trick of light).
Not because I am fresh as a 20 year old can be and ready to conquer the world as soon as I jump out of bed early in the morning. 
Especially not early in the morning.

I once took part in a psychological/transpersonal training (I was about 25) and lived for a week in a camp where we weren't allowed to use any make-up. I was such an obedient girl, I didn't. It was very difficult at the beginning, especially in a group of total strangers. So difficult that some women, not as obedient as myself, couldn't resist to put at least mascara on before they faced the group. Somewhere in the middle of the week camp, we had this mirror exercise which I believe changed my understanding of myself in just a few minutes (an hour? half an hour? we weren't allowed to have watches either). As we sat in a circle after the exercise, we shared our experiences with the group, and my friend and I went first because it was our turn in kitchen, and we had to prepare a meal for everyone before the group finished exchanging their experience. I said that by the end of the exercise, I did not want to leave this person. I felt so much love, I really liked the person who I saw in the mirror. I left to the kitchen, so I will never know what experiences other people had when they sat in front of a mirror for quite a while, in silence, being able to see only their own face in a dim candle lit room. But I knew that what I experienced was love.

I believe that as little children, we have this amazing ability to really accept everything about ourselves. We know no shame, we know no imperfections. We have no idea about any "standards" of how we are "supposed" to be - our appearances, our likes and dislikes, our interests, our curiosity about the world. Everything is new, fresh, everything is a wonder, everything provides endless possibilities of exploring. All we know as little children is the miracle what is life. Until some grown ups start changing it for us. Suddenly, or not so suddenly, there are things about us which need to be corrected, improved, changed, sometimes radically. This resentment which we start feeling about the outer world, creep into our inner world as well... Suddenly, our eyes are not big enough or a wrong color, our lips are not full enough, and our nose is enormous and such a wrong shape. Skin, teeth, body shape, signs of aging, likes and dislikes, interests and passions... everything becomes a question mark. Not a wonder, not a miracle, not a pure innocent, unconditional acceptance of who we are - rather a sharp, unforgiving questioning of everything around and inside of us.

Those tears of my little one, just like millions of other little things about raising her, taught me more than any smart book on psychology could ever teach. "I like my face." My face is me. It is as beautiful and sacred part of me as my heart, and my legs, and my soul, and my skin, and my likes and dislikes. It is a wonder and miracle that is me. Little children know it before they know how to speak. One of the very first things they do as they are born is exploring their body - look at those hands! wow! they are amazing! Then feet... aren't they fascinating?! Fingers! Who knew fingers can be so entertaining! Mirrors and everything that sparkles and shimmers are endless awe - reflections start to interest us almost as soon as we are born into this world. Reflections of ourselves in everything we can see.

Now, when she is 11, my daughter is fascinated with all the make up tricks she can learn via YouTube, and I don't mind. It is another phase of exploring and fascination with who we are. I only want her to forever be in love with her face as she was as a little girl - not in a self-absorbed way, but in a deeply loving self-accepting way when you don't need a make up trick to convince yourself you are beautiful. In a way animals and nature and art which comes from the depth of the artist's being are beautiful just the way they are, with no corrections, standards and criticism of a harsh expert jury. 
I like my face.
Not because it was on the last edition of the Vogue magazine.
Not because round faces are very "in".
Not because my hair color is trendy.
And not because people faint when they see my amazing beauty - they really don't.
Just because it is my face.
As beautiful and sacred part of me as my soul.

Trench - Michael Kors (via Nordstrom Rack, clearance). Jeans and tee - Lane Bryant. Scarf - thrifted. Shoes - Toms. Purse - B Makowsky.

I wear a foundation, a little eye shadow and clear lip balm. :)

The horse is made of drift wood - I don't know the artist's name, but isn't this horsey a beauty?


  1. Oh Natalia this is such a heart warming and eye opening post. Really great, isn't it just fantastic when we accept ourselves for who we are and pay less attention on what everyone else thinks? Hard but it can be done and you are living proof of that! You look beautiful on this outfit. Love the shade of the trench coat and shoes.

  2. What a wonderful post, Natalia. To truly appreciate how we look, not to judge ourselves against anyone else or some external standard of beauty; this can be such a hard thing to achieve, and yet you are so right, as young children, we all manage it easily and naturally. And yes, there is a world of difference between a loving self-acceptance, and being vain or self-regarding. I think I have a way to go before I can honestly state that I love my face; I can live with it (I always have!) but I don't especially like it. I think that's why I have an interest in clothes. Clothing, I have control over, I can change, experiment, do something about how I dress; but I can't change my face, so I make the best of what I have and then try to ignore it! I think I can settle for acceptance, even if it's not quite love!
    But I do love to read about your experiences, observations and thoughts, Natalia. And I always love to see your gorgeous face (you look serene - perhaps it's because of that true contentment you feel with yourself?) and you look especially good in that shade of bright green. Justin's photos of you are perfect! xxxx

  3. the story with the little anya is soooo touching! i like that you let her experiment with makeup without judging.
    thank you for sharing your experience in the camp - that has really impressed me.
    your face shows so clearly your warm hearted soul! your smile is something that i wish i had too. and your face IS very beautiful - such symmetry is not often seen :-)

    makeup was always a fun for me - I have used it to intensify the look I have created with my dresses. but since i´m over 40 i can see - on tired mornings - my mothers unsatisfied, unhappy face in the mirror. uh. not that i´m unsatisfied or unhappy, only tiered. but depletion has the same impact on my face, of cause. so what to do? heavy, changing makeup! but honestly - i don´t like it - where is the fun when i HAVE to wear make because i can´t stand my face in the mirror?
    lately i said to my self: try to smile more, loose 2 kilos, exercise more - then you don´t need so much makeup!
    i work on it. True beauty comes from inside - from your soul and how you treat your body with food and aktivity.......

    the green coat is just gorgeous! personification of spring!

  4. Have not to agree with you Natalia about kids. In such early age of 4-5 years old kids already have their standards of beauty, I've seen it so many times. A bunch of boys in a kindergarten is attracted to one girl because "she is beautiful". Another boy is bullied and avoided by everybody because "he is ugly". I remember myself at the age of 6 looking in the mirror and not liking my brows (but liking my eyes and lips). But of course I agree with your conception - that we need to love our faces because they are part of us. And actually not just faces, our bodies as well. Great post, Natalia. And yeah, you look fantastic in this green trench.

  5. What a lovely well written post. It is true as children we are so much more accepting of ourselves and we learn self hatred.
    As we age it seems to intensify. Learning to love and accept ourselves is an on going process for me. This has given me much food for thought.

    Loved it!

    PS the green is gorgeous on you!

  6. This is a great post Natalia and very interesting to hear about the camp you went on and your experiences there. We all have our own insecurities I think about the way we look and have to learn to live and deal with those insecurities. Some really struggle with it.

    I was listening to the radio this week while driving to work and there was a piece on the rise of cosmetic surgery in younger adults. I think this is such a worrying trend when young people undergo an anaesthetic and a procedure to change something about their appearance.

    The driftwood horse is a thing of beauty.

  7. Oh dear what a lovely post. You are such a gifted writer and this piece of writing shows the gem that is your soul and heart. I spend a lot of time at a nursing home with my Dad who is 90. I see some of this acceptance in individuals who are at the end of life. All that you have said is such a good reminder to be kind, not only to others, but also yourself. The green trench is beautiful on you!

    blue hue wonderland

  8. This is a beautiful post, Natalia. Your message is a really good one and you have expressed it so poetically. I can sort of relate to Anna's earlier experiences of not feeling right when her face was changed and didn't look like her. I usually don't wear makeup at all and if I do it doesn't make me look much different. I like my face too, in that it is familiar, it is me and I don't want to be anyone else. I often thing it must be peculiar to be one of those celebrities who look so drastically different with or without makeup. To look that different they certainly must be wearing a lot of it. I would not enjoy that at all but it would also be really annoying to be make up free at the grocery store and then see your face on a tabloid the next day with a headline about how you look shockingly different without makeup.

    The driftwood horse is quite amazing! I would like one in my living room. :-)

  9. Well then, Natalia, we agree,, because I love your face too. It reflects your probing intelligence , and your sweet beauty . I love the stories of your disinter, especially the first one. It is so funny that the younger generation learns everything on You Tube!
    I love that great green jacket on you and the soft blue scarf.
    Lovely, so lovely.
    And well written, too!
    XX, Elle

  10. You write so eloquently, Natalia.
    My mum told me when I was young that I'd never be Miss World and rather than waste precious time worrying and comparing myself to others instead to concentrate on dressing originally and uniquely so people would find me interesting. I enjoy the process of applying eyeshadow and lipstick but rarely think too much about the face beneath it, its mine and I can't change it.
    You look gorgeous in green! x

  11. This is a brilliant post Natalia, and I love little Anya's comment 'I like my face' as a Mum its a wonderful thing to hear, utter acceptance of their beautiful little selves - I don't ever remember looking at my face much as I grew up and one of the side effects of blogging is that I look at mine a lot now, there are times I'm bored looking at it! but learning to look at myself kindly is something I'm getting a lot better at - and these are gorgeous pics of you x x x

  12. I could give you a big, big hug right now, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh
    sooooooooooo lovely

  13. This post was so inspiring- especially the bit of that week experience you were part of. It's so strange to think how insecure we are about our natural face, and I know 100% of that is all in our heads. For example, my boss almost never wears a stitch of makeup and I think she's very pretty- and when she does put some make up on she just looks slightly enhanced. Not even prettier, just more defined. It's so easy to use that mascara as a crutch and put yourself down, and that's just so sad. Loved this post and your inspiring and lovely message! (Also, your daughter rocks)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

  14. Looking great, Natalia. Love the color of your coat, so fresh, so spring-y.
    It's fascinating -- the experiment you participated in. So unusual, but so powerful... Thank you for sharing.