In Da Club, Wit Da Peeps

OK, in Da Bar. But still.

I've been putting off writing this because a lot happened on my first night out with friends in the wilds of young, well-off, mostly-white Atlanta, and I'm not sure how much of it was imagined. I do know that my good female friend, N., told me that my blog changed her everyday life: she said that she had a big ol' cold sore and was considering skipping out on this bar party thing we were going to, but thought, "Lauren's going out completely without makeup. If she can do it, I can do it too!" That made me immeasurably happy, because N. is one of those women that I've compared myself to. She's really beautiful, and she never looks like she's wearing makeup, so when I was thinking about taking this Experiment on the Evil Voice in my head said, "But you're not as naturally beautiful as she is. Look at that skin!" Turns out, she never goes out without top-of-the-line coverage... who knew? She wears it so well that no one notices. Moreover, even though she's "way more perfect" than I am (again, the Evil Voice), she still dreads going out without makeup.

Because of the Experiment I'm starting to notice just how much pressure I put on myself, and how often I tell myself that I'm not "whatever" enough. It's usually not even words in my head-- it's just that gnawing feeling of less-than-ness. You know what I'm talking about? And then I fill it with some shade of Something that will completely change my appearance and make me "whatever" enough once again, which allows me to then go on doing what I was doing before I decided that there was something about me that needed immediate fixing.

It's creepy, if you think about it... although I can't figure out why that's the word that comes to mind.

Anyway, it made me happy that I inspired her to go out when she might have stayed in. I dressed... meh. I figured, "I shouldn't care anymore, so why try at all?" First we went to a place that, to my horror, I would have been fine in... if I had been in New York Mode. In other words, if I had done my hair so it looked choppy and edgy, wore lots of eye makeup and dark, fashionable clothes; or maybe if I had my long blond hair back with lots of expensive smelling hair product, I would have strode in there and showed all my "never lived in New York" friends how a city girl rocks it. This is ridiculous and insulting to the people around me, not least in view of the fact that I left NYC because I hated it. (Apparently, New York-itis-- "All things New York are inherently better than anything else"-- is a chronic illness.) But in this bar in Atlanta, I would have walked in and strode about like I was on the catwalk, if I had been polished. Instead, I faked confidence in my floppy hat, plain brown pants, practical shoes, and no makeup. I felt.... shame. Pure and simple. I felt like an eighth-grader at a high school seniors' party, and I felt like everyone was staring at me, and I was relieved when we couldn't get in due to an I.D. boo-boo (not mine).

Eventually the group went to a different bar because my peeps didn't like the crowded, money-saturated ambiance at the first place, and at the next stop once again I felt totally out of place. I sorta-flirted with the bartender because I wanted to feel a tiny bit attractive (even though I never would have dated him even if I had been single-- he had a huge beard and wore skinny jeans... eeeew), and when I walked up to a tableful of women I had no grace at all because I felt stupid. They turned down my request to use the table they weren't using, and I imagined that it was because they didn't respect a woman who wasn't polished, like they were. During dinner, the waiter flirted with N., and I never got up the courage to look him in the face. I didn't resent her-- I just felt so ugly I didn't want to look at him because I'd risk seeing him look right through me.

I learned something important that night: I can look modest, but I can't give up looking stylish. I don't see this as a betrayal of the Experiment, since its purpose is to reduce my dependence on cosmetics and revealing clothing; but when I look put-together (even modestly), I move through the world differently. Another part of the Experiment is to get a more solid sense of self-esteem, and if I spend nine months thinking, "Don't look at me, I'm hideous," I can't imagine that that would be good for me. Finally, human beings judge based on appearance-- it's just part of how we roll. I don't think I want to see what happens in nine months of people not taking me seriously because I look like I hate myself. Also, see this blog about women in ministry and professionalism.

In any case, I have certainly decided that when I preach a sermon in front of a bunch of people on 2/3, I will be wearing minimal makeup because I'll be in "professional" mode. It wouldn't do not to look polished, and in the West that means makeup on a woman. I feel guilty for making this choice, which is interesting.

At the end of the night, N. graciously agreed to store my makeup for me, which was awesome. She's so encouraging, and I'm glad to have that stuff out of the house because I was REALLY REALLY tempted, every single day, to make myself up. Just ONCE. I've also decided not to cut or dye my hair during the Experiment, which will save me $65 every six weeks. So... $65! Saved! BAM!

I still can't wait until this is over.

1 comment:

  1. there's a new show about our culture's terrible body image. go to hulu and watch it right now, it's only a half hour long.

    "how to look good naked"

    seriously, watch it.