I’d call this a confession, except that it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me. In many ways, I’m not very “girly” in outward appearance and behavior.
- Can’t stand the sensation of makeup on my face; don’t wear cosmetics.
- Don’t apply lashes or artificial fingernails.
- Stopped using any hair color; let it grow out flecked with grey.
- Just wash ‘n go for the hair styling (don’t even blowdry, curl or brush it).
- Wear skirts occasionally; and dresses, hardly ever.
- Don’t pad anything (have enough natural for wherever it’s needed, and then some).
- Choose to avoid wearing heels (hurt my feet, can’t walk, can’t stand very long, back hurts, knees hurt, lose my balance, sprain ankles, that kind of thing).
- Refuse to weigh myself. (I am what I am.)
- Shave legs on an urgent as-needed basis only.
There’s some hope, if you’re feeling concerned about my professed lack of “girliness.” To be clear, I’m discussing this in terms of appearance; presenting myself or undergoing salon treatments to achieve what we culturally perceive as a feminine style. This is in contrast to talking about “girliness” in reference to biological gender or sexual orientation, which are separate items. (As I was reminded last weekend during OWL / Our Whole Lives training, human sexuality and gender roles and cultural typecasting and body images and our ideas about femininity are all very complex.)
What I do like, that might be considered “girly?”
- Enjoy wearing bright colors.
- Enjoy loose, flowy clothing. (Girly?)
- Recently underwent my first bikini wax. (Wow, that’s an experience all by itself. Do research if you want more details. Otherwise, just imagine a really friendly woman working around your naked nether regions with hot wax, chatting and then giving you a quick warning as she uproots hair follicles. You consent to this procedure, by the way. And you thank her for her expertise.)
- Enjoy pedicures: relish some aspects of getting my toenails trimmed and polished, though my soles are ticklish and I won’t let salon staff use nail files (can’t stand the sensation).
- Love massages.
- Feel naked without a pair of vivid earrings (also collect them from wherever I travel).
- Fond of henna tattoos.
So there’s a modicum of “girliness” going on in my life and self-care, if that’s how you define “girly.” (And remember, one of my daughters was a princess in style, and I cheered her for that approach to life. So don’t think I’m setting up the pros and cons of this style. I’m not.)
My older daughter Sarah learned to apply makeup without any help from me. Years ago. Maybe friends advised her? At first, her application (mostly around the eyes) was extreme: dark and thick. It made a definite statement; it also suited her age and mood in middle school. Now she wears a more neutral palette: open and confident and attractive in a different way. Like many women, including my friends, she prefers to travel with mascara, eyeliner and lip balm, at a minimum.
Lots of my friends feel that way. Practically naked without some cosmetics. The baseline depends on the person. Some just need lipstick and mascara. Some need foundation, eye liner, mascara, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencils, lipstick, blush and whatever else might go with all those layers. Emergency touch-up supplies packed tidily into compartments and available as needed while on the go.
A few friends have even had their eyes tattooed with eye liner (kohl-style). Or had lashes glued on in a more permanent way. Hair extensions. Or parts of their bodies slowly defoliated with treatments that are relatively permanent.
Everybody feels differently about what they want and like to do to their bodies. Some of it seems like torture to me, and yet we enjoy the results, if not the process. Some of it is easily removed or reversed. Some lasts a while. Some, I suppose, is permanent, but that’s probably in the realm of surgical alteration and not what I’m thinking about right now.
I found a picture of me and our exchange student Chicca. Our feet, actually. With newly painted toenails. We sipped Zumis and finished pedicures, got some White Farms ice cream, and went for a walk on Crane Beach.
Walking in sand is a natural exfoliation treatment, right? As if I needed a reason to walk there. Or to feel good about myself while doing it.
I don’t. I do.
You? Me? We are beautiful, however we choose to make ourselves up. Or not. To be “girly” or not. To be whomever we are, in whatever ways we want to be. Inside. Outside. Painted. Bare. Perfect. Flawed. Me. You. Just ourselves.