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In my early teens I started experimenting with makeup. I remember standing in front of my bedroom mirror lining the top and bottom of my eyes with thick black eyeliner and loving how it looked. I felt different­­—edgy, sexy, older and cooler.

Over the years I experimented a lot with makeup. I even began modelling and had makeup artists applying a million different things to my face. I loved it at times—the times when I felt grown up—and hated it at times—the times it smelt gross and made me break out after shows.

I felt lucky to learn the makeup artists’ tricks on how to contour, apply eye shadow correctly, and lots more. I would sit with eyes closed and try to feel and remember the touch and movement as they applied the eye makeup. I would go home after a show, remove my makeup from one eye and then try to repeat the process, comparing it to the professional’s.

Somewhere in my early twenties, though, having become accustomed to the ‘made-up look’, I remember looking in the mirror bare-faced and thinking I was not attractive at all. I absolutely could not see what people saw, and I had to put on makeup to feel attractive no matter where I was going.

Once I read an interview in the papers where the woman featured was asked what makeup item she would choose if she could only travel with one; I thought to myself, “I don’t know what I would choose. I need mascara as much as I need eyeliner.” This was a thought that bothered me (it boiled down to eyeliner because I could manipulate it more).

Then I started practising yoga.

I have to confess that I used to sneak some eyeliner or mascara on in the teeniest amount before class. I hated going to yoga looking ‘bleh’, then sweating and looking flushed with pale lips… I felt too unattractive.

A few months after I began practising, I noticed that whenever I went out my friends would compliment me on my appearance, even if I was wearing a tiny amount of makeup. They also said I looked energised and healthy—and it was true! I had never felt happier or zestier, and I knew it was because of yoga.

I began taking it seriously, and with the addition of classes, there was a lack of time to apply makeup, I began going au natural! I was not prepared to miss a class because I was late and had to put on eyeliner. I could be five minutes late for work, but not yoga. This was now my time—the thing that took priority over everything else because it affected everything else.

It was only a short while after that I began catching my reflection fresh from a shower and thinking to myself “Damn, self, you look pretty!” Soon, my smile replaced my eyeliner and I can remember looking in the mirror one day thinking that I didn’t need any makeup at all—but I’d still put a little on anyways. Eventually, that turned into not wearing any makeup at all sometimes, even to go see the boyfriend. Shocking, right?

I never thought I could be so comfortable in my own skin. Of course there were and still are days when I think I look like shit but I treasure the days when I feel like my natural beauty is beautiful.

I read a post on Instagram tonight:

“A million men can tell a woman she’s beautiful, but the only time she will listen is when it’s said by the man she loves.”

Of course I got a little teary eyed because I think it’s true and deep. It didn’t inspire what I’m writing but I just remembered it and while I love it as is, to end this story I would like to change that quote a little bit:

“A million men can tell a woman she’s beautiful but the only time she will listen is when she says it to herself.”