My Dad Taught Me What Beauty Means, And I'm Teaching My Sister

My dad may have been anti-makeup, but he was pro-beauty.
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Publish date:
June 10, 2014
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family, fathers day, dad, mom, sisters

Growing up, I was my mother's living doll. She pierced my ears, curled my hair, dressed me in matching coordinates, put me in ballet, and surprised me with pretty shoes and hair ribbons.

My father was a different story. When my mom went abroad to take business courses, my dad had complete sartorial reign. For this brief period, my hair was cut short and I wore golf shirts. I was often mistaken for a boy.


The first beauty moment I shared with my dad was around the time of my first communion; I needed a dress. I remember going to a store filled with white, frilly dresses all lined up in a row. I tried on a few and reluctantly agreed to one that only went to my knees.

"Aren't all communion dresses long, daddy?" I asked.

"No, otherwise they wouldn't sell this one," he replied.

Naturally, all of the other girls at my communion wore long dresses, and I immediately realized mom was the better dress shopping buddy.

Then, when I was a teenager, I started getting acne. My mom encouraged me to experiment with different cleansers and treatments. My dad, meanwhile, insisted I stop "putting stuff on my face" and "just use water."

For some reason, he also had a strong aversion to nail polish. When I got older and was learning to drive, I'd have to hide my polished nails during our father-daughter driving lessons.

He wasn't into noticeable makeup--lipstick, lip gloss, blush, eyeliner, or anything that enhanced my look from its natural state. Oddly, he was totally fine with my ever-changing rainbow hair.

Fast forward to now, my dad is remarried and I have two of the most wonderful siblings I could ask for. It's interesting to watch my 10-year-old sister Justine go through some of the same father-daughter beauty experiences that I went through.

Justine was born with a penchant for all things pink. Her love of lip gloss was practically innate, and her nail polish collection is probably bigger than mine.

My dad still isn't fond of purple manicures, but he has softened the rules. Knowing we were upstairs painting our nails, he'd call out, "What are you girls up to?" My 6-year-old sister would call back, "Reading books!"

Here's the funny part: I'm actually starting to see his side of things. I think the point he was trying to get across was that there's more to beauty than just appearance. I never felt pressure to look a certain way around him, whereas my mom definitely preferred me perfectly groomed. It was (and still is) a nice balance.

Yes, makeup can be a great confidence builder. It can even change the way you feel about yourself, but it can't hide who you are inside. No amount of concealer can hide a bad attitude.

So while I'll be the first to show my sister how to contour, I'm also teaching her the true meaning of beauty: sharing with her brother, solving a math problem, learning from her mistakes, loving wholly and unconditionally, being brave, and having big dreams.

It's character that makes you beautiful, and I learned that from my dad. He'll probably laugh and say, "I just didn't want my daughter to grow up too fast," when he reads this. But I know different.