I was in my shop yesterday helping a woman find the face-cream she was looking for when she said to me “I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but I care about my appearance. I want to stay looking young as long as I can“. I laughed and told her, “You do not have to be embarrassed because you care about looking good, I certainly do!”
While having this conversation; which evolved to embrace the other women sitting in my cafe/wellness center @ the time, we discussed how it has almost become taboo to say such things, that the popular belief is that those of us who like putting on make-up & dying our hair are really just a short clip away from a 1950’s housewife who makes sure her make-up is perfect before her husband gets home from the office. Somehow in our pursuit of liberation, we have found another group of women to shame….’ those poor unfortunate souls, who are still trying too hard’.
I tried writing this article last night, but the words; which came quite freely on my way home from work, we’re not giving over as I sat in front of my computer. I thought maybe this is not really worth writing. Then the first thing I saw when opening Facebook this morning was a blurb on how women were ditching hair-dye and embracing their gray as the biggest power move ever. Really…our biggest power move ever as women is to decide we are no longer going to hide our gray. I think that’s bullshit…what about people like Hedy Lemar who was both an actress known for her great beauty and a brilliant scientist. I am pretty sure her contributions to science were not deterred by her love of lipstick. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr
Now I do not believe this is being done purposely, I believe it is the unspoken shame delivered by all the articles talking about how powerful it is to let your hair go white, and how women should accept themselves how they are, that size, age, and appearance are unimportant, that real feminine power comes from stepping into the world as you are, without worrying how society wants you to look…unless that means you like to spend an hour every morning getting ready for the day, because then you’re somehow shallow, and repressed by the world of man.
Personally, I have never felt repressed by men. I know I am fortunate in being able to make this statement, and by no means am I shaming anyone for the road their self-freedom takes them down. I am simply saying, I was raised in a family with a strong matriarchy and have never had a relationship of any kind with a man or woman who made me feel I was less because I was female…and yet, I love to do my hair, enjoy choosing my outfit for the day, love make-up and jewelry and frankly love the act of ‘getting ready’. The moments spent in the morning admiring my favorite muse in the mirror are playful, creative and in some way an expression of the art & magic that is uniquely me. I do not have the time or skill to create great masterpieces of art, but I do have the time to put myself together smartly and depending on the day that can mean a lot of different things.
I think the real lesson of it all, is that we are often unaware of what is silently being communicated when we stand on our soapboxes or repeat the same statements over and over again. Is there something being left out, that in its absence is communicating unintentional volumes?
When I was a kid my father used to compliment me and my sister Sandy in very different ways, always repeating the same kind of statement, which was different for each of us. He told me regularly, that I was a pretty girl and that someday someone would take care of me. Meanwhile, he told my sister that she was smart and could do anything she set her mind to. Now neither of these things were inherently wrong or insulting. In fact, they could be seen as complementary. But the result of such specific and repeated compliments was that at some point in our young adult lives, my sister and I each had to deal with the vacant part of the statement…the part that was left out of the compliment. If I was pretty, did that mean I was stupid, that some guy was going to have to take care of me? What if I got fat, or didn’t look good, would I have no worth? On the opposite side of the fence, my sister had to deal with the fact that she had been told that she was smart, and could do whatever she intended…but no statements of beauty. Was she lotted for a life as a woman who had to do everything for herself? These unsaid things were never intended to harm, nor did my dad think I was stupid or that my sister was ugly. She is a beautiful woman, and I am an intelligent and capable woman who most certainly can take care of myself. My father’s statements were not meant to cause absence, but they did.
We people are complex, we are always in some state of liberation, expansion, contraction, or breaking down. There is so much to learn and expand as we grow as a species. We need to stop shaming, passing judgment and assuming we know what someone is like because they say or do such and such. Granted if their actions are hateful, well that’s a different story. I have absolutely no tolerance for haters. But there is a lot to be said about the old adage of not judging a book by its cover. Not all women who spend hours getting ready in the morning are doing so for a man, in fact…I am willing to bet that most of the Divas out there are doing it for THEMSELVES! So rock on with your beautiful selves ladies (& gents). Put on the eyeliner, color your hair whatever fucking color you choose and allow yourself to explore who you are. That being said…I do recommend using ethical cosmetic companies, you will feel better about it and you will most likely be healthier.
So for all you ‘Pretty, frilly, sparkly, juicy, girly-girls’ out there…keep on doing what you’re doing. Your beauty (and however much time you put into it) is determined by the eye of the beholder…who is oneself. If you feel good doing it, and it makes you feel more confident then all the power to you!