vanity! (sung to the tune of “agony” from “into the woods”)

I am actually more on the girly end of the spectrum than the tomboy side, though I think that binary is absurd. I refuse to leave my house if I don’t look showered and generally put together, I own a ton of hair products, and I’m happy to get free makeup samples when I buy my Clinique moisturizer twice a year. But I’m also very forgetful, so my relationship with makeup is generally the kind where I’m walking to the T and then I remember, “Oh, shoot! I was going to put on mascara today so that I would look pretty!” I own a lot of it, and I’m always happy when someone competent is playing with my hair or putting my makeup on for me, but I guess I don’t have the gene where you naturally know how to do your hair and makeup yourself. Also, not being particularly gifted with my optic sense, I am fascinated by people who cut my hair or people who can look at a magazine photo and copy a celebrity’s makeup, because I honestly don’t know what it is that they’re seeing in the follicles or eye folds, because I literally cannot see that kind of detail.

Anyway. This summer, when I was teaching high schoolers, I noticed how much makeup they were wearing. And I came to the realization that at 22 (now 23), I have reached the point where it really is important to kind of bow to society’s demands and wear a little makeup and present myself in a way that will not hinder my ability to get job interviews, be taken seriously, be seen as my age (I got carded for buying a lottery ticket on New Year’s Eve and was told I didn’t just look under 21; I looked under 18). Also, my body seems to have gotten confused about when you’re supposed to have acne, and instead of giving it to me when you’re supposed to get it, when your life already sucks as a teenager, I have it now. Anyway, I’ve now gotten mostly used to being a little more primpy on a somewhat regular basis. My eyebrows are always at some level of plucked, which is good, because I actually like the way they look now. I also wash my face at night before bed. In summary, I do all kinds of things that normal American girls have been doing since they were 12, except I started when I was 22.

I used to find makeup-ing and hairdoing and shaving a hassle. To be honest, I still forget to shave for, like, two weeks at a time, and by saying that I now have a primping “routine,” I mean that I wear makeup at least once a week, and I take better care of my skin and hair daily. But I’m now getting more and more used to it, and I keep things like lipstick and mascara in my purse rather than hope that I’ll remember to pull them out of my Caboodle (yes, I still have a Caboodle) in the morning while I’m getting ready.

I can’t believe I found it all so difficult before. And I can’t believe how just a small amount of girliness (I believe I’m still far from the point of needing to have makeup on to leave the house, or of thinking that it’s fair that I will be judged on, say, my ability to do my job based slightly on how I look, but that’s life) actually has improved my moods. Having that small amount of routine in the morning and evening helps me feel in control, and, like exercising regularly, makes me feel like I am doing things that will ensure a happy, healthy future–is that weird?

Right before I left Tucson, I got a smoothing treatment that ended up totally straightening my hair. I (and the hairdresser) expected wavy, because I just wanted a slight change and longer hair, but now it’s totally straight. I didn’t mind, partly because it was already done, so there was nothing I could do, but also because it means I’ll stand out a lot less in my very white area of Boston. But now that it’s been nearly two weeks with this hair, I’m still not quite sure how to deal with it. How do people live without putting tons of product in their hair every morning? Also, now I don’t get compliments on my hair. Which, of course, was the point, not to be noticed, but now I’m thoroughly confused. I wanted long, wavy hair because that’s what I felt like inside, but now I can’t tell if this new hair is me.

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4 thoughts on “vanity! (sung to the tune of “agony” from “into the woods”)

  1. Ha, in the course of organizing all my belongings, I put all my makeup/toiletries/hair stuff into one bathroom at my mom’s house in an enormous pile, and my first thought was “Wow, I should really be a lot prettier.” Not that I’m not, but seriously, I own like thousands of promises of better hair, better face, better skin, etc. I do kind of wish I put product on my hair, but I’m starting to think it’s too hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

    • It’s a relaxing treatment with keratin instead of chemicals, so it replenishes the protein in your hair rather than stripping it of moisture. It’s like the Brazilian Blowout, but without formaldehyde.

  2. “…be seen as my age (I got carded for buying a lottery ticket on New Year’s Eve and was told I didn’t just look under 21; I looked under 18).”

    I can relate. I’ve been carded for lottery tickets, movie tickets, and other nonsense, and I’m 30. People think it’s a compliment to be mistaken for younger, but I don’t think so. I want to be seen as an adult, not a little girl, thanks!

    I notice I don’t get mistaken for younger too often when I’m wearing lipstick, but I don’t like the hassle of it rubbing off or it getting on my teeth, so I prefer to go natural. The beauty routine can sometimes be a chore!

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