Hey Girl

Sometimes I’m not sure how female I want to be.

I mean, if we’re having an either-or conversation, it’s pretty clear which side of the line I fall on. And I love both my X chromosomes very much, but sometimes I get this really intense guilt about one fundamental aspect of being a girl: how much should we be spending (money and time) on improving our appearances?

Maybe it would be easier to find an equilibrium if the women around me had a more consistent set of beauty values. But they run the gamut, and I can completely identify with all of them. It is obnoxious to spend precious funds on waxing and salon haircuts, and wouldn’t that money be better spent on traveling? And blow-drying my hair after.every.shower. just seems like such a pain. But then I go to work (or school) and feel so frumpy amid the throngs of shiny-haired, manicured girls who clearly didn’t get dressed in the dark. We’re only young for so long, and at 50, I’d like to look back at pictures of myself now and say, “Damn, girl” …and not because 2012 fashions then look totally ridiculous.

I had a friend in college who was very beautiful, in a way that I can only describe as “well taken care of.” Hair like spun silk, luminous skin. The shelves of her bathroom were lined with a staggering amount of “product”…cleansers, toners, hair masks, all of which multiple trips to Sephora have taught me were extremely expensive. But she looked so wonderful! All those products really work! And when I mentioned that bathroom beauty shrine offhandedly to M, his response took me by surprise. “Why don’t you get those things too, then?” I had expected him to reject that level of self-care as frivolous, but he saw it as just part of the territory of “being a girl.” Why don’t I? Why when I try to order makeup online does some bizarre part of my brain shriek, “Selfish! Children in Africa!”

One thing I know for sure: nothing you can buy at a Benefit counter makes as much of a difference in how I look as getting a lot of sleep, working out like a beast, and eating like a cave dweller. Fact. So this is pretty much a fourth-tier consideration (and a first-world problem). And it’s all been a very long-winded way of saying that I have a pretty sexy NARS lipstick in my online Sephora checkout bag, and I can’t decide whether I need it or not. Where do you guys come on down on this issue?

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