I often wonder what my life would be like, for just one week, if I had to go about my usual business, but minus hair products or make-up. It was quite ironic, that just as I was having these very wonderings, within 24 hours, Facebook was being hit with several photos of women who had been asked to go without make-up and post a pic to social media for charity. It is a terrifying prospect to a lot of us.
Oh sure, we can go a few hours without our beauty products, but we disguise it with gym clothes or a bathing suit. But imagine going to the office, or Bad Mom-style, to a PTA meeting! (GASP!) I admit, it gives me anxiety to think of it. Nobody wants to be judged, especially for the way God made us. And we teach our children that they should not “judge a book by it’s cover”, or discriminate on appearance (or any reason for that matter), and that it doesn’t matter what brand your clothes are as long as you’re a good person. I believe all of this. I want the world to be this way, but the truth, the very sad naked truth is that it does matter.
I had just been laying this harsh reality out for my kids. Telling them that, yes, it is wrong to judge people by their clothes or hair, but you ARE judged for those things. Those that dress “nicer” are assumed to be smarter, more trustworthy, and more successful (whatever that means). Think about how you have to look if you’re going for a job interview. All things being equal, the candidate that “looks the part” will get the job.
The very next day after this conversation with my kids, I went to a higher end tile store to pre-shop new backsplash options for our kitchen. (There’s that reno again.) I had recently had knee surgery and decided to hit the tile store on my way home from physical therapy. I roll into the store with no make-up, hair in a tiny pony (I have short hair – it’s really a little nub and 7 bobby pins), sweatpants, and running shoes. I walked that store for 15 minutes and not one person asked me if I needed help. I finally went to the desk to see if I could get some assistance. They assigned a designer to me, and right from the start, this girl was not interested. It wasn’t until I had to yell after her that I was sorry I couldn’t keep up as I had just had knee surgery that she even looked me in the face. I explained to her that I had just come from PT and was still moving really slowly. Well, we were fast friends after that. I heard aaaallllll about her knee problems from a ski accident and what a great skier her son is….blah blah blah. It was disappointing, to say the least, but a great lesson for me to bring home to my kids. (The timing was so perfect after our conversation.)
For those that have known me from my younger years, you know that I have very curly hair (which my beautiful little girl has inherited). My curls reined supreme in the 80’s. I could not have been born during a better time, as girls back then paid mega bucks to have their hair chemically treated to look like mine.
But times have changed and fashion changed with it. My natural 80s hair is no longer coveted, but feared. I’ve tried many times to embrace it and say “screw you fashion!”, but the comments hurt. I remember once, deciding not to torture my hair before going to work. I walked into the office, curls in all of their glory, and one of my male coworkers said, “Oh Jenn, what did you do?” It was crushing and embarrassing. And although he saw the error of his ways and later came to me and apologized, the damage was done. We are still friends and I have forgiven him, but the sting is still there, as fresh as it was that day.
I joke that my hair demands so much attention from me, that it’s practically a member of the family; that we might have to start hanging a stocking for it at Christmas time. I also made sure, very early on in our dating, that my husband (then boyfriend) got a gander of the real, curly me. Thankfully he was not deterred. Turns out, he’s a curly head too, just keeps it so short, that you cannot tell. (But boy, those soccer pics from the 70’s tell a different tale).
So I still ponder what it would be like to actually be able to “wash and go”. I’m even currently growing my hair out just a bit to try again at a wavy do. But in the mean time, I will continue doing what I do. It’s a tightrope we mom’s walk when we go to lengths to alter our appearance either through flatirons, tattooed eyebrows, hair dye or those weight loss shakes. Are we telling our daughters that we are not good enough? Are we saying that God made a mistake that must be corrected? Are we foreshadowing that they, one day, won’t be good enough either? It scares me, but apparently not enough.
2 Pic from Pinterest. This is real.
4 Senior pic circa 1987
5 Pic from Pinterest
6 Stocking from www.aliexpress.com . Text was photoshopped in.