When I was young, I was very much the epitome of a Plain Jane. I was always looking for a way to fade into the background. I had been something of a social outcast up through middle school, and I think that manifested in trying very hard to ensure people never looked my way. Because “invisible” was a much safer label than “target”.
And I certainly never put myself in the box labeled ‘beautiful’. It wasn’t so much that I agonized over my reflection in the mirror or plotted ways to change myself to get there. It was more that I never even imagined that word edging anywhere near my person. I simply counted myself out of the beautiful category – sure it was reserved for those around me who fit in. Who were confident and laughed along with the crowd and always seemed to know the right thing to wear and the right thing to say.
I was a bit mistrustful of beauty – as a young girl, there was (and still is) an all pervasive message to strive for it and turn yourself inside out to become it; but this coincided with a seemingly conflicting message on every television show and movie screen that the beautiful were also the mean, the spoiled, the shallow. That they didn’t study or get good grades. They couldn’t be kind or thoughtful. They could only be pretty. And if they were kind and beautiful, they had to have some awful tragedy in their lives (like every Disney Princess to waltz across my youthful retinas, who managed to be both, but had to lose their parents for it to be allowed). And so, I believed I had to choose.
When I was growing up, I remember how much I loved daisies. During these tumultuous, formative years of seeing so many conflicting messages but not being able to articulate them, I think it had a lot to do with my perception of beauty. I remember writing in my journal, as all angst-ridden pre-teens do, about how all the girls in my class loved roses. And I scribbled away in furious hormonal woe, that roses were the obvious choice. They were so beautiful, and fragrant, and perfect. But because of their beauty, they needed thorns to keep back their many admirers. But to my 11-year-old self, daisies were unassuming. Not flashy, not clamoring into the spotlight. They simply seemed happy. Comfortable in their own skin.
Although I didn’t know it back then, I think I loved daisies because they could be both. Beautiful and sure of themselves. Smart and not apologetic. Sweet and sassy. Fashionable and driven. They came in every color of the rainbow and could take over an entire field just as easily as they could sit contentedly alone, a single stem gracing your countertop. Waking each day and stretching their arms towards the sun, intent on spreading a little joy.
And when this daisy-flecked dress from Wanderlust tumbled out of my closet this morning and into my vintage-loving arms, I caught a glimpse of my 11-year-old self in the mirror. With hormones raging and coke bottle glasses brushing against the bridge of her nose. Unsure of her own beauty, her own power. Struggling to navigate in a world that told her she had to choose. Grimacing at her freckles, at her body, certain that her path was The Smart Girl.
But as is the wisdom that only comes with age, she didn’t know then that could be pretty and smart. Kind and ambitious. A daisy and a rose and a venus fly trap and any other flower she darn well pleases. That she could be beautiful, yet unassuming. One in a bouquet, but one in a million. Full of joy and full of stories. And with a flick of my eyeliner and a matching flick of an impeccable daisy print dress, this Professor reminded her that she could be both.
I reminded her how much she used to love daisies.
Lip Color: Centrifuchsia