I am not one of those women who is able to maintain a perfect beauty regimen. In fact, I’m pretty pathetic. I sit here typing at the computer and one of my nails is splitting. I am nearly pathologically unable to quit playing with it until I find a nail file. The urge to pick and chew at the piece that is sticking out near the split is overwhelming. I finally give up and bite the damn thing off, making the nail ragged and ugly. The fact the nail split in the first place is part of the evidence against my ability to maintain western trappings of femininity. Don’t get me wrong, I do not go out of my way to eschew such contrivances. I don’t purposely dress in sacks or not shave my pits or grow a mustache or not wear deodorant or any of it. In fact, such things would bother me immensely. I actually LIKE certain aspects of western trappings of femininity, I’m just not very good at them. And so I exist in my little, pitiful, half-baked attempts.
I have a wonderful hairdresser. She does such a lovely job putting in highlights and cutting my hair. My hair is naturally curly and I straighten it. My hairdresser knows this and cuts it accordingly. She straightens it for me beautifully. Even I am capable of straightening it fairly well, and during the time after it is straightened and before I go to bed or get it wet, it looks moderately attractive. Yet I’ve developed a habit of staying up too late with the male person in my life, so when I have to get up and go to work, I do not want to spend the extra 45 minutes showering, straightening, and coiffing. I would rather sleep. The result is that my hair has odd bumps in it in places where it has been slept on, the places that tried to return to their natural state of curliness, but did not quite make it. Most mornings I throw it into a ponytail, make a feeble attempt at presenting my bangs in a semblance of order, and head out the door.
Oh, and the bangs. Do you know why I have bangs? I have not had bangs in over a decade. I’m not partial to them. Last summer, my hairdresser noticed my hair had thinned significantly. She deduced this was the result of radiation treatments the winter before. Small problem…radiation does not cause hair loss unless the radiation is on the hair. Mine was not. We decided stress was the culprit then. In spite of my attempts to stave off the loss, the hair continued to break and thin. One morning while straightening my hair, a large chunk of hair fell right into my hands. Its ends were burned brittle, sizzling and smelling as I held them. WTF?!?!? It turns out my blowdryer had been sucking hair into its coils and burning it off my head. Hence, the hair loss. I went into hairdresser and described what had been happening. As she laughed in horror, she attempted to repair my mangled head. The result was bangs. I was forced into bangs and layers to deal with the trauma. Yikes. The hair is growing back now. It is healthy and it is thickening. I have pretty thick hair so it’s noticeable when it thins. Since having this happen, I am grateful for my thick hair. I like the way it hangs when it’s thick. It’s pitiful when it’s thin.
The other beauty area in which I am woefully lacking is makeup. I can’t wear it. When I do, I forget, rub my eyes or cheek, and smear it across my face. Lovely! I wear lipstick. I’m actually kind of abulic about wearing lipstick. The lipstick takes over and informs me that it will be worn, whether I like it or not. Have you ever seen a baby mouse or rat? They are so cute when they are really little, just after they get their fur. What is really cute is how they try to wash themselves before they are physically able to do so. It is apparent that they are driven by forces outside themselves to clean themselves like they do. It’s the same way with me and lipstick. I’m driven by a force outside myself to wear it. Often when it’s on it’s way to my lips I realize I’ve unthinkingly reached into my purse and removed the stick to put it on. It’s rote. I do not like the feel of my lips without lipstick; they are too dry. I also do not like the look of my lips when they match my skin. I like them to look reddish, like lips. I like them to show. Women’s magazines often ask some movie star what one makeup item she would take to a desert island (in order to attract the palm trees or crabs, I suppose). My one desert island item would be lipstick. It’s true. I admit it. Please do not think less of me for this. Give me points for admitting it.
My worst beauty area by far is my fingernails. I cannot keep them manicured properly. I try, oh yes, I do. I file them. I keep them even. I attempt to force back the mountains of cuticle. I let them grow so they look sort of long. I just can’t keep them looking pretty. I have paid for professional manicures before. They look ragged and sad within hours. It’s simply not worth the money. I’ve also found that nails that are too long get in the way of doing the things I like to do. When I do such things with long nails, the long nails break. This is not attractive. I do pay for pedicures. I like having my feet pampered and since my toes are further away from people’s lines of sight, they don’t notice the dings as much as the ones on my fingernails. Part of the problem is that my fingernails are ridiculously thick. Where many of my friends complain of thin and brittle nails, I have the opposite problem. One split goes deep and filing it away does nothing. I have to cut the whole thing off, behind the origin of the split, or it just keeps going. Not good. I’ve had some nasty splits that went into my nail bed because of this. They hurt. I am also constitutionally unable to keep polish looking nice. For one thing, my nails are short and fat things. They match my short and squat fingers. For someone who is rather tall and very thin, I certainly have the fingers and fingernails of a troll. They are like mini sausages. I do not have willowy fingers or hands. My hands look like they could pick up a hammer and start banging something with precision. They’re workers’ hands. And they’re ugly. The nails match. Good times.
I am also woefully lacking in the ability to dress femininely. I always miss, usually on accessories. I see girls who are all put together. Their hairs are tamed, their nails are polished and manicured, their makeup is flawless, and their clothes are pert. Not me. My hairs are wily, my nails are squat and splitty, my makeup is lipstick and sometimes some dark circle coverup, and my clothes seem thrown on at the last minute, even when I’ve attempted to look put together. I just can’t quite manage it. Maybe if I had a personal assistant and makeup artist I could do it. I suspect, however, that I would give such a person fits. She would follow me around rolling her eyes, doing her best to remake what I had undone. Such an assistant would need to be the sort who likes to watch her work destroyed and making attempts at rebuilding. I would be a good project for someone like that. If I were famous, People Magazine would have a field day with me. I’d be the constant go to girl for hideous shots of stars looking pitiful. Even better, they could use me in the See, they’re just like US! section of Us Magazine. She gets toilet tissue stuck to her shoe! She spills gravy on the front of her blouse! She forgot to zip up her fly! She drops her groceries, keys, and purse then flails mightily to recover them! They’d love me. They would never run out of fodder.
Since typing this, I’ve managed to worry down the nail split somewhat. It’s raggedy and needs a file, but it’s better than it was when I began. It’s hopeless–I’ll never be a model of western femininity. I couldn’t do it if I tried.