Countless hours in front of a canvas, layering paint on paint, color on color. What was once a blank page soon filled with something unrecognizable. No one could’ve ever guessed what it looked like prior to me working on it. How could I take something plain and turn it beautiful? Turn it special. Something worth looking at.
I found myself reaching for a paintbrush at an early age. I recall the feeling of each bristle making contact with the rough canvas being a euphoric experience. It calmed me. Fascinated by the transformation, I found myself turning to other mediums of art. Eventually, I refound that love through makeup.
There was something so enticing about the art of recreation. It was almost like taking on an entirely new persona when I caked my face on for the day — I could be anyone I wanted to be.
I spent a lot of time at school watching people trying to find a muse. Sitting back and observing, I picked up on social cues and mannerisms. I noticed how the way someone turns their body towards who they're talking to says a lot. I noticed how someone’s smile brightens ever so lightly when someone laughs at their joke.
Eye contact can intimidate or invite people over. But just because there’s an invitation doesn’t mean it’ll be accepted. I realized how the pretty boys only accept invitations from the pretty girls.
I desperately wanted to become one of those pretty girls.
Countless hours spent in front of a mirror, nitpicking every flaw in my face. I’ve memorized the soft curves, and the way that my nose wrinkles when it scrunches up. The way that a faint upturn of my mouth and a slight squint can make me look kinder — more approachable.
I know my face through and through and I hated the way I looked.
I would set early alarms to go off before the sun rose just to ensure enough time to get ready. My tired eyes looked back at me every morning in the mirror, fixated on my pale lips and sparse brows. But waking up at ungodly hours — despite being able to witness the beauty of mother nature waking up along with me — became exhausting.
I soon learned that caffeine could fuel me but that came at a cost of lacking control. With unsteady hands and a shaky brush, I struggled to apply my makeup with the precision it desperately required.
The layers of foundation soon resembled textured paint strokes. I found that my skin mirrored a rough canvas. The picture-perfect idea of myself that I had envisioned became abstract.
There was no more smoothing over the rough edges — I became the rough edge. A piece of art made by me, loved by me, all washed away at the end of the night where I’m left with what I started with.
When people comment on what they like about paintings, an abundance of things come to mind. Technique in brush strokes, color scheme, meaning behind the painting, it can be anything really. But their favorite part never seems to be the blank canvas underneath.
Why would it be? It’s not necessarily distasteful, nor is it an eyesore. There’s just nothing special to look at or to appreciate.
But what is a piece of art without the artist? An artist whose muse stems from their own conscious thought. Whose muse is essentially their own being, whose bare face is the work of art in itself.
When I look at the people I surround myself with, I can’t help but give myself credit for making connections with kind hearted and genuine people. People whose qualities exceed my expectations for friends.
Often, I wonder what they see in me, what qualities I possess that make it worth the effort to reach out, to invest time into.
Something that I’ve discovered is that you’re a reflection of the people you meet. The interactions made — either prolonged or fleeting — are compiled into the morals you possess, the qualities you take on and how you present yourself to others.
To love yourself is to love the people who have made an impact on you, the people who have shaped you into who you are.
When I look at my bare face in the mirror, I have a stronger appreciation for what I see: a blank canvas without all the makeup. The default version of me without all the things I thought made me special, made me worth looking at.
Bare, untouched and beautiful.
Janea Melido is Copy Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have something to say about this? We’re dedicated to publishing a wide variety of viewpoints, and we’d like to hear from you. Voice your opinion in The Beacon.