I spent this whole past week cooped up because of the snow on Sunday, which turned into, as people called it, "Snowpacalypse" because the city of Atlanta a) doesn't have the equipment to clear snow so it turns into infinite planes of ice for a whole week and b) does not have drivers who are willing to slow the **** down when driving in the snow. Also, ATL is really hilly and when those hills are slick, unless you have winter tires and a whole lot of finesse you can't get up or down them safely if at all. There was little to no social contact this week, so there was less opportunity for me to feel self-conscious.
When I finally did go out, it was to get crafty things with which to decorate my hats! It was fun, and I feel more put-together now when I wear them. I think it also satisfied my urge to make pretty things, the one I used to take care of with makeup. However, the money I saved on not worrying about my hair ($65) was spent on said crafty things. So. Then I went to get groceries, and a remarkable thing happened. As I carried my plunder out to the car I saw my reflection in the window of an SUV, and without realizing it I thought to myself, "I have good bone structure."
Later this week, after the ice had melted a bit, I went to start my class readings at a coffee shop. (I could have stayed home, but even the cats were starting to look at me like, "You should get out of here. You're starting to look... insane.") It was an excuse to go do something. Anyway, I curled up in a flannel shirt and newly-decorated hat and read Job for two hours, noticing how much more relaxed I felt than usual. I didn't want people to look at me, but I was OK if they did, so I wasn't nearly as self-conscious as I am even when I'm dolled up. I was just dozing off...
"Excuse me," said a voice above me.
I looked up to see a rather large, well-built youngish man looking down at me. He asked me about the Kindle I was reading on (the second person to do so lately, which makes me wonder whether I should learn more about it since I have one). I told him what I could, and he offered to buy me a coffee in exchange for the "help" I gave him. I was starting to think maybe this wasn't about the Kindle at all, so I politely refused. He chatted with the staff, then walked out and said goodbye to me.
About 45 seconds later he walked back in. "Hey Lauren," he said, "Can I get your number in case I have any more questions?" I gave him a card for this blog since I'm not single, and in mid-sentence he muttered, "Your eyes are amazing." I almost uttered my stock response, which is, "Thank you. A lot of it's the makeup I accent them with," but of course... it wasn't true this time. So I just said, "Thank you."
I got a very well-thought-out message about my last post and my assumption that wearing makeup is required to look polished in all professions; she also challenged my equation of not wearing makeup to self-hatred. I think I should acknowledge that she's right, and that my experience of times in my life where I didn't wear makeup are different than other women's. When I was in high school before I moved to Florida, I did hate myself (as many of us did) but I also wasn't allowed anything trendy on principle (my dad and stepmom were militantly counter-culture).
Teaching a teenager that what's popular isn't the most important thing in the world is one thing; forcing a female adolescent to wear bizarre clothes that don't fit are a different animal. I suffered a lot for standing out and "looking like I hated myself"-- kids know pain when they see it, and people in pain (as I'm sure you remember from high school) are persecuted first.
Well, that's interesting. I think somewhere in my subconscious I see not looking "polished" as making me a target for exclusion and humiliation. Explains a bit of my "no one will like me if I don't look good" thing. Of course, my being singled out back then was a lot more complicated than that, but you know the human subconscious: it installs emotional "buttons" around things to help you avoid pain, and after awhile the button stays but the reasoning behind it is long gone.
I seem to be getting evidence to the contrary, however, in the form of my thought about my bone structure and that guy who went way out of his way to hit on me. That hasn't happened in awhile.
Next time: other women's experience that I've talked to about makeup. Turns out, the way I think isn't the only way to think. Imagine that...