The Right Way to Be an Island Girl

Have you ever wondered if you’re trying something new and doing it wrong? No? It’s just me? That’s ok…I’m full of life confessions and I’m not afraid to admit them.

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Coming soon to an island beach near you. Island Girl v. 2.0.

When I moved to my rock all those years ago, I thought being an island girl was just about changing one’s latitude (and attitude), tossing out my make-up and curling iron, putting on a bikini and…voila…an island girl is born. And to some extent that is true. After all, if one lives on a rock (especially in the Caribbean), one is (or becomes) – by default – an island girl.

And for six years, I thought my way of island life – no makeup, lots of sporty endeavors, zero concern for hairstyle (after all, isn’t that what a messy bun is for?) – was the only way. After all, that is pretty much how the ladies here on my rock of choice do live. At least the ones I hang with. After all, it is too bloody hot, humid, dusty and windy to concern yourself with the usual tasks of “first-world” day-to-day living. And we’re always in the water anyway…diving, kiteboarding, windsurfing. I also assumed this was how all tropical island girls lived their daily lives. As it turns out, I was caught in an island girl bubble. *gasp*

And all it took to burst this funny bubble was a trip off my rock of choice to a new, more sophisticated rock. And meeting an amazing group of fellow island girls – each of whom rock their rocks in very different ways.

It was on this shiny, sparkly new rock that I began to understand the variety of ways one can choose to wear the title of island girl. And while it still involves bikinis (duh!) and cocktails (always) and shenanigans (the more, the better), it also involves an appreciation that there is no single right way of being an island girl.

Throughout the tropics, there are as many kinds of island girls as there are rocks to call home. From the places where glam is the order of the day (and looking your best is NOT a crime) to the places where it is perfectly fine to never see your friends in anything other than bare faces, baseball caps and board shorts – even at the local bar on a Friday night. And, of course, every degree of lifestyle in between.

And armed with this newfound wisdom, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt for me to put a tiny bit of effort into my island girl style every once in awhile. Because, TBH, I have let my personal style slide (disappear?!) more than just a little over six years. There, I’ve admitted it. Out loud.

So on my planned shopping spree on my temporary rock’s impressive malls (yes, they had US-style shopping malls – two of them – I was in my element once again!), I eschewed my standard black, navy and neutral choices. Instead, thanks to some frank observations from my newfound island girlfriends, I embraced some pretty, colorful, dressier options.

And then, because all bets were off and shit was getting crazy on my one-woman-shopping bonanza (and my Visa still had some spending power left on it), I also visited Sephora for a few essentials. Don’t freak out, I didn’t go crazy…my final purchase included a few sparkly, sweat-proof goodies. And my favorite Urban Decay eyeliner…when the hell did it begin to cost $22USD?!…let that sink in for a moment. I paid $22 for a single eyeliner. What the effin’ eff happened to my common sense in Puerto Rico? But I digress…

The truth is…I was inspired (in many ways) by my fellow island girls on this getaway. They could pull off pretty and polished and styled, while still being real island girls – whatever that meant to them. I decided it was time for a change. Time to stop believing that being an island girl meant trading old habits that I enjoyed (like styling my hair or wearing a bit of makeup or sporting a pretty outfit) for a more disheveled, “fresh-off-the-water” look.

Because the two aren’t mutually exclusive. At all. In fact, island girls truly shine when they can embrace all aspects of their personalities without fear. Favoring one over the other creates an imbalance that stealthily sneaks up on you and changes you. And not in a good way.

With all this said, will I be doing a blowout before a kite session? Don’t be ridiculous. That would be the definition of insanity. But it does mean that maybe, just maybe, I won’t settle for running errands looking like something the cat dragged in. Or that a nice dinner out will involve more than a quick shower and tossing on the nearest clean outfit I can find. Especially since it is guaranteed that you will see at least 10 people you know when you’re out and about.

So cheers to all island girls and however they choose to rock their rocks. Because there isn’t one right way after all. And don’t worry if you’re doing it right. It’s right if it makes you feel good. And that is the essence of being an Island Girl.

Now to dig out my hair dryer and round brush…I do need to go grocery shopping today.