Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Your Eyes

"Heather, you look so much better than you usually do!" my co-teacher exclaimed as I walked in the door.

Unsure as to whether this was a compliment or a metaphorical slap, I simply replied, "Thank you."

She continued as she sat down at the table with a paper cup of instant coffee, "Your eyes, they are...they are..."

"More defined," I helped as I sat down to join her.

"Yes, more defined. Your make-up looks nice."

"Thanks. Usually I do not wear much eye make-up, but I figured that I would for the first day of school."

"Well, you should look this way all the time! You look so beautiful," she exclaimed. Another female co-worker nodded in agreement as she sat down to join us with her steaming cup of tea.

I took a deep breath, weighing the likelihood that what I wanted to express would be received and understood or whether I should just shrug my shoulders and move along, but I leaned in anyway. "I don't really like wearing make-up," I explained. "It makes me feel like I am wearing a mask."

The two women sitting across from me just stared for a moment, computing the words from English to Korean, and continuing to look confused longer than was comfortable.

I tried again, "I don't want my confidence to be dependent upon how I look. I know I am beautiful even when I am not wearing make-up."

"No, you're not," my co-teacher countered matter-of-factly. "Physical appearance is very important. We all need to wear make-up to cover our flaws. It's just what women are supposed to do. And if you don't, you are not beautiful. My husband tells me this all the time!"

Without trying to appear too shocked, I asked, "He says that to you?"

"Yes, he says he married me for my good character, but certainly not my beauty."

"Wow," I say. "Does that bother you that he says those things?"

"Of course!" she responded.

The other woman chimed in, "My husband says the same thing. That I was pretty before we were married, but now I am fat and pregnant. I would not leave the house without make-up because my husband would be upset."

I proceeded cautiously, "Jeremy tells me that I am beautiful with or without makeup."

"He's lying," my co-teacher retorted with a grin. "My husband used to say all kinds of sweet things. But we've been married ten years and now we sleep in separate rooms. We try not to talk to each other."


Nikki said...

wow.. culture difference..? anyways, you know this, but remember beauty is what's on the inside. and furthermore, you don't need make up.. it is a mask.. you're beautiful!

Jessica said...