Monday, February 20, 2012

Mirror Work

As I write this, I'm wearing men's socks, no shoes, a pair of knit charcoal-colored elastic-waist stretch palazzo pants a friend didn't want any more, a pull-on poison green belted cardigan sans belt (also free!), and a sky blue t-shirt with "Wholesome Midwestern Girl" printed across the boobs.  I haven't bothered to put in my contacts and I'm sporting what I can only describe as a walk-of-shame-style bun.  What's more, these are not my pajamas.

You expect me to put lipstick on this pig?

It's true: I cannot be saved.  I skulk in the shadows, pale-faced, red-eyed, a member of fashionably damned.  It's true that I'm not working a traditional job today, and that pretty much my only obligations are to practice, write a concert preview, and watch the Downton Abbey Christmas Special. But if I were to leave the house, probably the only concession I'd make to fashion would be to trade the stretchy palazzos for cargo pants.  I'm so far from working it I might as well work out. 

I've written about my card-carrying schlubhood before.  I bring it up again because a fellow blogger pointed me toward this, in which two women actually make a 60-day "project" out of a (lack of-)grooming regimen I've undertaken virtually every day of my adult life.  I should note that these women are still, during their 60-day primping fast, blow drying, whereas I have not owned a blow dryer since 1992.

Suddenly foregrounded, the distance between my normal and everyone else's normal seems disturbingly vast, a continent of serums and straighteners and, god forbid, spanx.

There's an elephantine helping of laziness at work here: maintaining one's appearance to the specifications of contemporary womanhood takes WORK,  and I have long resented work that doesn't come with the prospect of remuneration, monetary or otherwise.  This will shock you, but I find I receive the same hourly rate for doing work with frizzy hair than I would if I were to break out the John Frieda.  I have yet to lose a friendship over my lack of lip liner.  Nor do I find my inability to attract men to be particularly onerous, given that my husband is due home at 6:00.

But there's also, it must be admitted, a tiny fillip of shame to my endeavor -or rather, my lack of endeavor.  The truth is that sometime, a long time ago, I gave up on beauty.  All of us, as teenagers, wanted to be beautiful/sexy/wanted.  And when it dawned on me in high school that none of this was going to come easily to me, I decided to give sexiness a big fat screw you and got on with the reading of books.

Why try, if you can't succeed? 

It's this tiny chunk, this splinter of why I don't dress nicely and do my hair, that makes me think I should start.  I'm pretty clear now on the fact that trying -in all fields of endeavor- should be divorced from any notion of success.  Trying is important.   It's the bulk of what fills our days, excepting the TV watching and Internet surfing.  If we don't try, we pretty much just end up watching reality television and eating Cheetos.

Success is two minutes and a cake  Trying is a lifetime.  And I'd hate to continue living my life according to a maxim (see above) in which I no longer believe.

So we'll see.  There's also that whole laziness bit.  Which I may, in fact, be too lazy to try to combat.

1 comment:

Mara said...

I'm in a terrible state of self-denial regarding the subject of this post. I wasn't able to vote "no" on this poll, or on the schlump poll either, even though I think it's pretty clear I should. But what if you mostly dress bad, but you're actually trying to look nice, say if you wear an interesting shirt and a silk scarf that your sister bought you in India, but your jeans are from Old Navy and have a big hole in the knee, and your sweater is a shapeless cardigan from Target? And you're wearing foundation but no other makeup? What are you supposed to vote then?