So many women expect perfection from themselves as they go through their lives.
Most of us, consciously or not, hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, and assume the world does too.
Every day, this idea of perfectionism is reinforced for us in advertising and media. (Think about how many times you see the word “perfect” in commercials, especially ads aimed at women. Consider how tabloids pounce on celebrity “imperfections,” or how public figures are criticized for the smallest human mistakes.)
But human beings are fallible, changeable, and gorgeously diverse. Our beauty lies in our differences, our variability and our ability to learn from mistakes and grow.
If we were “perfect,” we’d be robots—and that would be boring!
I find it a whole lot juicier and more fulfilling to be a part of nature. In nature, “imperfections” create evolution, and make organisms stronger, more vital, and more sustainable.
Since we’ve bought into these messages that we’re supposed to be perfect at everything—from the way we look to our performance at work, to how we fulfill the roles of mom, daughter, partner or wife—we waste energy being hard on ourselves when we fail to live up to this impossible standard.
Think about how great it could be to free up all that energy, and spend it on creativity, appreciating yourself and others, and enjoying life.
It’s very possible! It involves accepting that “imperfections” are part of what makes life—and you!—most beautiful. Here’s how to do that:
As a perfectionist, easing up on yourself can feel a little scary at first.
If you wear a full face of makeup every day, then taking it off to reveal the unique beauty underneath—including so-called “flaws” like lines and wrinkles—can feel intimidating.
If you spend every workday making sure your supervisors know you’re executing impeccably and finishing every project on time, it can be downright terrifying to let folks know you need wiggle room on a deadline.
If you’re used to expecting perfection from yourself as a mom, a friend, a partner or a wife, allowing yourself to make mistakes, apologize, and learn from them can feel super vulnerable.
Being okay with our mistakes and imperfections is what allows us to grow.
And that initial discomfort in facing imperfection is a small price to pay for a life spent evolving, learning and expanding.
(Plus, that initial discomfort passes—pretty quickly!)
It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to suddenly be 100% comfortable with all the things we’ve been told all our lives are “flaws.”
In fact, expecting yourself to instantly embrace your flaws is a different kind of perfectionism!
Getting comfortable with imperfection is a practice.
It happens every time you look at your face in the mirror and get friendly to that new smile line you see.
Or every time you tell yourself “it’s okay” when you make a mistake at work or in a relationship.
Try practicing being gentle and flexible with yourself in little, daily ways. Give yourself permission to be “imperfect.”
In doing so, you might find that it naturally, gradually grows into a greater sense of ease.
When you get down to it, this perfectionistic standard—especially for women—is pretty ridiculous.
Companies and advertising agencies designed this perfectionist idea to play on our fears that something is wrong with us, and get us to buy products that (we hope!) will help us fix it.
If you take a step back—enough to see that this standard is made-up and arbitrary—eventually a whole lot more space and freedom opens up.
That’s when you can develop your own standard for yourself—which is a whole lot more fun than trying to live up to someone else’s.
Try it now: What qualities do you actually admire? Which practices would you like to try? What’s ideal for you?
(Hint: it probably has something to do with what makes you feel really good and connects you to your joy, which inspires people around you and guides you to expansion, beauty and growth.)
“The whole idea of less is more, that women shouldn’t be slaves to dozens of makeup products, is what I really believe in,” said Cindy Joseph, a makeup artist and model who’s pared down her own cosmetics kit to just a few items. Three of them are from her new line of multiple-use cream sticks called BOOM!.
The line is not just for Boomers like Joseph. “BOOM! is the sound of a revolution in cosmetics,” she says. “Cosmetic companies are constantly adding products; I’m taking away. Mine is the only company that is pro-aging, not antiaging.
Jennifer Aniston believes in aging gracefully and not over-doing it on the makeup. When asked by Self Magazine what is in her purse when she leaves for the day, she said, “Boomstick Color: It’s an all-in-one stain for eyes, cheeks and lips that’s so much fun.”
“There is this pressure in Hollywood to be ageless,” said Aniston. “I also understand that age is kind of awesome... Don’t over-product — that’s the other thing.”
The BOOM! Products come in identical chubby white tubes that fit in the palm of your hand. Boomstick Color, a sheer berry for cheeks, brow bone, eyes, lips, forehead and neck; Boomstick Glimmer, a sheer iridescent champagne for the inner corner of the eye, cheekbones, shoulders, decollete; Boomstick Glow an olive oil and beeswax moisturizer for lips, cuticles and around the eyes.
Judging by the photos and videos, Joseph, who recently turned 60, needs no makeup at all. She’s one of those Emmylou Harris beauties with lovely features, luminous skin and long silver hair, who spends just a few minutes a day on her face before she’s out the door. As women age, she says, looking fresh, rather than made up, is the key.
“The biggest makeup mistake that middle-aged women make is putting on too much under eye concealer,” she said. “At home, it might look OK, but in the daylight, it just looks like a bunch of gunk under your eyes. The older you get, the less makeup you should wear. It’s not a blank canvas anymore.”
After growing up in the Bay Area – Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, class of ’69 – she moved to Paris in the early ’80s and later to New York.
“I was a classic California flower child,” she says. “I went to Haight Ashbury on the weekends, the Fillmore West, the Avalon Ballroom. I was at the center of it all. People still ask me to this day: ‘Are you from San Francisco?’”
Joseph married young, had two kids and began her makeup artist career in San Francisco in the late ’70s, working for Macy’s, Esprit de Corp and others.
“I always had the smallest kit and the fewest products of any of my colleagues,” she remembers. She let her hair go gray in her late 40s, and just like that, she was spotted on a New York sidewalk by a scout for the fashion photographer Steven Miesel and has been a model ever since, featured in ads for Target, L.L. Bean, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Olay, Nivea and others.
About a year ago, she went into the cosmetics business herself. “I’d done makeup for two decades and when I created this line, I created what I would want in my own kit,” she says. “I wanted to do a line that was not about hiding, but was about revealing.” The overall effect, she says, is a dewy, glowing face.
“By far this is the best ‘make-up’ for women over 40. I feel the need to brighten up just a little. Time is showing on my face, which is beautiful, but a splash of Boom is the perfect accompaniment of a wonderful life.” — Susan
No extra packaging, no animal testing, no parabens or phthalates. Anyone can have allergies. If you have any discomfort or a rash develops, discontinue use and consult your physician.