A blog post in which Shannon (who is currently in our Yoga Teacher Training Program) reflects on her yoga journey via the curious path of lipstick and birthdays. She recommends reading the book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown.
I turn another year older. Big deal! Right?
I decided in the wee hours of my newest year of living that I was going to make a change.
Ridiculous? Brave? Random? (UN)Necessary? Who knows what you call it…
A little background for you…late 1980’s-90’s. Having always heard what beautiful and luscious lips I had, naturally I wanted to hide them! Not just my lips, but my less than perfect, crooked, teeth that goes with them. I don’t know how you react when someone compliments you, but I feel we all know a little about how uncomfortable it is to receive a compliment about ourselves, we may not accept them with grace, or with ease, and if we do, it’s been work for us to get to that point.
When I was a little girl, I heard Brooke Shields got noticed for her eyebrows, as big and bushy as they were, they were bold. They set her apart. I wondered a lot about my defining feature, and if it was my lips, would I be noticed and become famous too? I dreamt I would. After all, isn’t that every little girl’s dream, to be a movie star, rock star, runway model, or public figure?
As I got a little older I contemplated a lot. Why would it be a physical attribute that might make me famous? Why be famous at all? I became more and more uncomfortable accepting compliments about my lips, and other physical traits people admired. Get this, I tried to scheme up ways it might be possible to hide my lips, down play them, or perhaps peel them off altogether. Impossible of course! Ever hear of someone getting a lip reduction? I’ve painted this picture of a girl with giant bodacious lips the size of bananas, Which is funny to me, it’s not even that mine are all that big, I just got sick of hearing, “you have perfect lips Shannon!”
Lipstick and Yoga Teacher Training
Then I started the YTT program. My YTT experience has been transformative in ways I cannot begin to express in words.
I consider myself a fairly ‘low maintenance’ wash and go girl. I don’t give tons of thought to my physical appearance, or how I am perceived, or my style and whether I even have one!? I don’t know that it’s even important? What does it all mean anyway?
Confession: I have always loved and admired women wearing lipstick. Secretly. Why secretly? I am critical of my taste. Do I not value natural beauty? Of course I do! Why do I think lipstick looks so damn hot on women then? Lipstick isn’t natural. Of course I felt silly and embarrassed to ever admit my admiration of women and their lipstick, or talk about it with anyone. I kept it quiet. Silenced those beastly thoughts!
Years pass and my admiration for women wearing lipstick does not fade, so I decide this: “What better way to mark this new year of living then to embrace the lips and crooked teeth I was born with, and start wearing lipstick!?”
Embracing Lip Colour
Fast forward to a few months later and wow. I didn’t realize it’s a world of learning out there, from glosses, to mattes, to stains, to sticks, to shimmer, to applications over lips before applying the actual colour! Yikes. And the names they have for lip colours these days…hilarious! But what did I get myself into!?
BAM! It really makes my lips pop! It also makes me feel pretty. I shouldn’t be embarrassed to say that, but a little part of me is. To apply it I have to take time and look at myself (or at least my lips!) in the mirror each morning. If someone compliments, or notices, I feel it necessary to retell this story, and explain myself. Like it needs some justification, and they are asking, or I begin to feel like I shouldn’t be wearing the stuff at all. You know, that little inner voice that tries to take over, telling you untrue things when you’re interacting with others!?
To Wear Lipstick or Not to Wear Lipstick? Definitely a First World Problem
I realize as some of you read this, you’re thinking this is a first world problem, what the hell is she going on about!? I’m sure some of you will relate, and understand in your own ways. It goes a lot deeper than what I’m sharing clearly, but this is just one blog post.
The moral of this story is ‘self acceptance’. Of course it might seem trivial to illustrate it with lipstick, but it’s relevant just the same. And I know everyone out there has a set of their own hang-ups they are working on letting go of, or accepting. No matter how big or small they might be they matter!
I look forward to the day I can just say “thank you”, and receive a compliment with grace and ease. I recognize it is a process, and like learning to apply lipstick, I will with intention, learn to accept compliments fully. Til then, I’ve embraced learning how to love and accept myself wholeheartedly, it really is a blast! So is choosing what colour lipstick to wear every morning.
With love, and a little lipstick,
When Shannon isn’t refining her yoga poses in our 2014 Teacher Training Program she can be found teaching at UW in the recreation and leisure studies department. She has many loves in her life: hiking and backcountry canoe camping, travel, food, riding on two wheels, playing with her nieces and nephew and sipping hot tea.