It takes me about an hour to get ready every morning. My morning routine goes something like this:
- 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))
- Take a shower
- Put product in my hair and scrunch it until most of the water is out
- Blow dry my hair
- Moisturize – especially in the winter
- Get dressed (it takes me forever to figure out what to wear)
- Put on makeup
- Scrunch hair again to get rid of any crispy curls
- Wander around my apartment to gather everything I need
- Mirror check to fix anything that doesn’t look quite right
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?