The Addiction to Appearance

It takes me about an hour to get ready every morning.  My morning routine goes something like this:

  1. Take the dog out to do her business (and in the winter that requires about 5 minutes of putting on/taking off sweatpants, sweatshirts, boots, and coats (one for me, one for the dog))
  2. Take a shower
  3. Put product in my hair and scrunch it until most of the water is out
  4. Blow dry my hair
  5. Moisturize – especially in the winter
  6. Get dressed (it takes me forever to figure out what to wear)
  7. Put on makeup
  8. Scrunch hair again to get rid of any crispy curls
  9. Wander around my apartment to gather everything I need
  10. Mirror check to fix anything that doesn’t look quite right
  11. Leave

And this morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I was thinking about all of that time I spend in the bathroom getting ready for my day.  One hour a day.  That’s seven hours a week.  That’s about 28 hours a month (already more than an entire day gone!)  Three hundred thirty-six hours a year – or fourteen days – or two entire weeks.  Wow.  If I lived for 60 more years, over two of those years will be spent in the bathroom drying my hair, putting on makeup, and getting dressed.  It will take me over two years to get ready for the other 58 years of my life.  That, my friends, is a lot of time.

And while I would like to sit here and announce to you that I am changing my ways and vowing to never spend an entire hour in the bathroom ever again, I am not able to.  I can’t say that I won’t spend ten minutes trying to get my hair just right.  I know I will never be able to choose the perfect outfit on the first try every day for three days, let alone a week.  With all of these lipstick colors, I can’t guarantee that the first one I choose will be complimentary to my skin tone and the colors that I am wearing.  And even though I know that I am wasting an entire hour of my day just getting ready to go shopping or putz around the apartment, I don’t necessarily want to change that.

When I look good, I feel good.  I’m more productive with my time.  I’m more sociable.  I’m friendlier.  I feel smarter.  A lot of the time, my happiness is directly affected by my outward appearance.  And when I am unhappy with myself or the way that my life is going, I cheer myself up in the beauty aisles at Walgreens.  I buy makeup, lotions, conditioners, and any beauty supply that I can get my hands on and believe that I might need one day.  If you were to open up the cabinet beneath my bathroom sink, you would see the results of these splurges fall out onto the floor because the cabinet can barely contain them.

So where did this need for beauty in a bottle come from?  Today’s magazines, newspapers, and blogs emphasize the importance of natural beauty.  Magazine covers are being chastised for photoshopping their covers – I even posted a video showing how our definition of beauty is the direct result of these maneuvers.  Newer, more natural models are making their debut in advertisements.  And yet here I am, feeling the need to perfect the way that I look before leaving my apartment just to take my dog on a walk.  Why is that?

And the funny thing is that you can tell how I am feeling about myself that day by seeing the amount of makeup caked onto my face.  Typically I am on the lighter side, but sometimes (when I’m feeling depressed or unhappy) it’s as if you can’t see a hint of real skin underneath all of that foundation.  And although I know that wearing all of that makeup is unnatural, I can’t help myself.  To take it off would leave me unhappier than with it on.  Because the thing is, no matter what is going on around me or what kind of situation I find myself in, I can at least control the way that I look.  Because to look beautiful in a crappy world, even if that beauty is artificial, is better than facing it looking hum-drum.

Perhaps the saddest part of this is that I know I am not the only woman in the world with this complex.  There are millions of us that choose to drop hundreds of dollars on beauty products that we will only use once.  Others might choose to physically harm themselves.  Others might starve themselves to achieve that perfect weight.  Others might stay in abusive relationships.  On second thought, maybe I should consider myself lucky that this is my addiction because, lets face it, it could be far worse.

Lately I have found myself a little more confident with my “natural” face since I have sworn one day a week to not using anything at all, but I still feel stares.  I still feel less respected.  I still feel like other people have decided that I am not worth their time.  And on days when I am feeling low, my usual “head up” posture turns into a slumped back with my eyes to the ground.  And of course it’s foolish and of course it’s nonsense, but it is something that I struggle with anyway. 

I would like to think that we all have our own comfort blankets that we cling to.  It helps me to know that everybody needs to fit a certain mold when they are feeling down so that they can feel better about themselves.  It could be anything — dressing great, laughing a little louder to make up for it, or feeling the need to prove yourself through your ideas.  You know… something that gives status so that we know we’re not just dirt on the ground. 

Is anybody willing to share with me theirs?

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11 Comments on “The Addiction to Appearance”

  1. anonapotimus Says:

    A constant mindset that I walk-on-water is my guilty pleasure–it’s harder to feel self conscious if you aren’t looking for those judging eyes.

  2. Don Keylips Says:

    When you say that “When I look good, I feel good.” I entirely understand where you are coming from now, moreso than ever. Not referring to the makeup part of course, obviously.

    Knowing you look good creates confidence that will affect every part of your day. It feels pretty damn good, too (thanks). The part I don’t understand is the correlation between your mood and the amount of makeup that you purchase.

    Isn’t there a base set of supplies that you have to make you look good? (granted it may be a large amount (yes, I’m implying you need all the help you can get(ZING!))) But really, don’t you already have all the tools you need to look good? On a day when you’re feeling depressed, shouldn’t it take the same light amount of makeup to make you look good as it does on any other day? How does having more product under your sink and slathered on your face address the issue at hand?

    As far as my guilty pleasures go? You know me, I have no flaws….

    • Heather Says:

      On days when I’m feeling depressed, I take it out on my appearance. So no, I don’t need the same amount. I need more.

      And when I put on more, of course it doesn’t fix my day or my attitude. You asked, “How does having more product under your sink and slathered on your face address the issue at hand?” It doesn’t. At all. I just clogs my pores (uck). And if the unhappiness doesn’t go away, then I never look good enough, and then I need to buy something else to fix it. It’s like retail therapy with specific guidelines.

  3. Don Keylips Says:

    Don’t worry, Heather, you’ll meet my incredibly low standards even if you’re unhappy and feeling ugly.

    • Heather Says:

      I have no idea how to take that.

      And I’m opening up here! Isn’t this what you wanted? From now on, I’m only posting videos. Thanks a lot DON KEYLIPS

      • Don Keylips Says:

        I think you know exactly how to take that…

        That regardless of how depressed, unhappy, awkward or ugly you might be feeling, I’ll be there as your friend.

        How else could you have taken it?

        I thought this post was actually pretty good, I almost thought of sending it to a friend from home until you got all snippy. Maybe you should just post videos from now on, then I wouldn’t feel bad taking you off of my RSS feed to clear up space for cooler things, like XKCD and The Oatmeal.

  4. Spanks Says:

    I always use the way I look to make myself feel better. Ironic, considering my self-confidence regarding looks is far from high. But, I’m a huge fan of dress shoes, which in turn makes me an enemy to my wallet. However, getting a new pair of those, with some nice dress pants, and a button-down suede shirt and the world is mine for the taking. I also like doing it even on a good day just to give some cushion or wiggle room if I think something may go bad ( bad test, yelling at work, etc). Like most of the things we buy in life, it fixes absolutely nothing, but makes those imperfect moments seem a bit more polished.

  5. mzmommy Says:

    This is the link to the suggestions I followed
    http://www.ravelry.com/projects/knitrawr/razor-cami

    And this is the link to the actual pattern (use link above to make sweater.. original pattern is for tank top)
    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/razor-cami

    Just click where it says available for free an it’ll take you to the pattern. I can help you as much as possible but I would suggest talking to the woman who made the sweater too because I just kind of made it up as I went :/


  6. I cannot understand why women spend so long getting dressed, I’m surprised more women don’t go mad eventually. I know they’re obsessed with their appearance, but I think they just need to get over it, a bit like you have.


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