For the most part, living on an island has brought out my inner beach babe in all the ways I dreamed it would. The endless sun gives my skin that healthy, year-round glow that friends back home can only attempt with a spray tan. My closet is packed with cute dresses, boyfriend-style shorts, and playful, printed hats. I’m never forced to throw on a frumpy coat or cover myself in down just to stay unfrozen.
But as with everything in life on a rock, for every positive point there is a concession. While I realize there are many more important things to care about than whining over beauty debacles, I think these tropical trade-offs are still worth mentioning – if only as a means for a little island girl therapy session. So tell me – can you relate to the following?
Here are 7 Unavoidable Island Beauty Disadvantages I’ve come to realize:
1. Endless Summer = Endless Shaving
This is something I truly did not think through properly before moving to Curaçao: living on an island = shaving every single day. Year-round summer weather means I literally have to be ready to potentially be in a swimsuit 365 days a year. Back in the Netherlands (my home country), I could easily not shave my legs for weeks (ok fine, even months) during the winter. Even my underarms and “downstairs” could be skipped for days at a time, especially during my boyfriend-free stretches. But on the island, it’s almost impossible NOT to shave. During weekdays, I sometimes try to smuggle in a few shave-free days by wearing long pants and a blouse in the air-conditioning at the office. However, on the evenings and weekends, it’s unavoidable if you want to enjoy the pleasures of tropical living like impromptu beach days, pool parties, sailing trips, and hot summer nights without looking like a hairy monster.
2. Bikini Body Always on the Brain
I used to be so lazy in the winter, skipping the gym and hiding extra kilos under big sweaters and oversized pants. Now? What happened to my winter hibernation months? They’re gone. Wearing all these short shorts, sundresses, and bikinis means I’m confronted with my bad food choices, cellulite, and stretch marks every damn day. It’s not so easy to get lazy around here, which may be a good thing for my health, but definitely a loss for my inner lazy girl who just wants to lay around and eat pizza for a few months.
3. Entanglement in the Wind
On Curaçao, surrounded as we are by ocean in every direction, the wind blows heavily almost every day of the year. While the high winds definitely make this hot desert rock more bearable to live on, they do make it near impossible to maintain any kind of polished hair style. The wild, out-of-bed look works well for the beach, not quite for the office. Whipping strands of hair wreak havoc on the eyeballs and I must say I spend a ridiculous amount of time pulling hair out of my lipgloss (not sure why I even bother with it in the first place!). Experienced island girls therefore know exactly which seat to take during a dinner outside. So, no guys – we are not cheeky because we always pick our seat first, we just want to be able to look at your handsome face instead spending our meal fighting back our mane.
4. Blonde Hair, Like it or Not
One day, I decided to walk over to the brownies camp. I wanted a more grown-up look, which I thought could be achieved by coloring my light blond hair to a darker blondish brown. Out of the salon, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my transformation. Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple weeks. Due to the overwhelming amount of sunshine I spend my time in every day, my hair bleached itself back at a rapid pace. Before I knew it, I had been kicked back into the blonde camp. The island made its point – I’m stuck with my “girls just wanna have fun” look for now.
5. Yellow is the New White
On this sweaty, dusty rock, the color white doesn’t exist; it has been replaced by yellow. Things that once were bright white – from tank tops, t-shirts, bikinis, to the pillows on the couch – have all been yellowed here in the tropics. The combination of perspiration, sunblock, skin flakes, dust, and happy hour spills are so persistent, that even the washing machine is no longer effective.
6. Unsightly Soles on Display
Perfectly pedicured feet are what one wants to see in flip flops – generally what the tourists possess, fresh out of the pre-vacation trip to the nail salon. The feet of an island girl are much less pampered… quite the opposite, actually, and yet still out for all to see all the time. Dry, rough skin, callused cracks, and fungal nails are all the unfortunate side effects of all this barefoot beach walking.
7. The Raccoon-Woman Look
Waterproof mascara tends to be thick, sticky, and unnatural – not to mention, terrible for your eyelashes when used frequently. So I prefer natural mascara, when I wear any at all. However, even if I stay out of the sea, all this humidity and sweating means I risk (and by risk, I mean, it’s a sure thing) having raccoon eyes by the end of every day.
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Despite these beauty disadvantages though, there’s still nothing like coming home after a long day’s work, taking a seat at the pool and popping my ugly feet and hair-free legs in the water, pulling my sunglasses ever-so-carefully out of my tangled mass of very blonde hair, and soaking up the sunset with my raccoon eyes. Being in a place that’s warm where people care so much less about all of the above is freeing.
In the end, feeling happy and at peace inside makes me feel my prettiest on the outside. I’d still prefer to shave less – a lot less – though.