If I had a nickel for every person who has told me that I’d be “so pretty” if I wore more makeup…
…Or that I should eat less because otherwise I might get fat…
…Then I’d actually be able to afford my Chipotle addiction.
As women, we really do a job both on our own and on other women’s self esteems. We carry around this idea that we “can’t be pretty unless [FILL IN THE BLANK].”
And that [FILL IN THE BLANK] is constantly changing.
I’m not just talking about the oft-mentioned complaint that women think they’d look perfect if only they could lose those last ten pounds (those bastards!). What we’re dealing with is an attack that’s not only hurting us emotionally, but also physically.
For instance, have you ever heard the phrase All Women Should Color Their Hair? No? I’ve heard this piece of advice spouted like the secret to happiness on several TV shows, including Millionaire Matchmaker.
How about the intense pressure we have to forego open-toed shoes if our nails aren’t polished? The mani-pedi is so ingrained into our society that, even though many of the chemicals in nail polishes are highly carcinogenic, we hold mani-pedi fundraisers for breast cancer research, and bond with our daughters at the nail salons.
In fact, many cosmetics are untested or believed to be quite toxic. But don’t even think about going au naturale, because that’s a revolutionary new movement, and you still want to fit in and get dates and jobs, right?
And then there’s clothing. Apparently, to be a proper lady, you need to go broke buying shoes and bags. My apologies, but maybe I’d prefer to have one good pair of shoes and purse and save the rest of that money for rent and travel.
Every time I walk down the Upper East Side, my bare face and casual outfit get looked up and down. I have been raised to never go on a date or to a job interview without makeup (though nixing makeup for interviews may indeed be a don’t in today’s society). And I can’t tell you how many times people have told me: “You’d look so nice if only you wore MAKE UP!”
Another phrase I hate? She looks like she doesn’t take care of herself.
And stranger, how do you know she doesn’t take care of herself? Would plastering carcinogens on her face and going broke on designer clothes mean that she actually is taking care of herself? Are we going with the old, outdated motto that red lipstick brings confidence and that beauty means self love? Sorry, but this is something we can’t completely blame on the media.
Let’s all try something. It’s kind of radical, but it’s pretty fun. Let’s just Not Pay Attention To Our Looks.
Instead of spending hours on hair, makeup, and clothes every morning, take the time to read the newspaper before work over a nice mug of tea or coffee. Or engage in new hobbies, now that you’re not worrying about the state of your hair or tummy.
And put down the fashion mags. One of the things I miss about Europe was the paucity of ads and media targeting female insecurities. The less you look and buy, the more likely that these companies will get the picture.
Ladies, let’s stop adding the qualifiers already. In fact, let’s stop talking about beauty in general. Get out of the salons and go live!