Friday, July 08, 2005

Girlie Ineptitude

My college roommate and I used to joke (hell, we still do) that the hair and makeup chapters of our Girl Handbooks were missing. Not that we ended up being total tomboys, we liked to go down to the frats looking cute, but all we needed for that was tight clothes. Doing your hair and makeup was pointless considering you were going into a hot, dark, beer-spattered environment. The makeup was all going to be sweat off or wiped away. Your hair was going to melt and end up in a ponytail. We saw it happen to the sorority girls, so we thought we’d just avoid the hassle. Not to mention there just wasn’t a need for involved hairdos and makeup in college – at least, not as far as we were concerned. We didn’t have the time or money to spend on it anyway. Getting ready for class consisted mostly of getting clean, throwing on clothes and covering up blemishes (the one makeup exception).

After college we both went to graduate school and again, there was no need for involved hair and makeup. We didn’t have much more pocket money, and going to class, working in a community garden or a scientific laboratory didn’t offer up many “dress-up” opportunities. So we are officially inept at hair styling and makeup application. Even if we suddenly wanted to, we couldn’t – not without some in-depth instruction and practice. Maybe community colleges could offer courses for people like us: “How to Wield a Curling Iron”, “Hairspray: Fact vs. Myth”, “Makeup Tools, Not Medieval Torture Devices”, and my personal favorite, “How to Style the Back of Your Own Head”.

Needless to say, my lack of interest in hair and makeup was a significant disappointment to my mother. I saw myself as frugal and promoting “natural beauty.” She saw me as immature and unpolished. One Christmas, when I was in my early twenties, she gave me one of those eye shadow kits that has about 80 shades in it. She wanted me to “play” with the colors, kind of like a schoolgirl dipping into mom’s old makeup for fun. That was the only gift I ever returned to the giver immediately upon opening it. A couple years after that mom insisted I go to her hairstylist while I was home for Christmas. My thought was that as long as she was willing to pay for it, I’d be game for a free haircut. Turns out mom had been scheming with the stylist for some time before I came home and they decided I really should color my hair, too. It wasn’t going to be anything dramatic, and I’ll point out again, it was free. I only asked that they remember that I wasn’t going to maintain it, it was going to grow out, and I didn’t want the transition to look too obvious. When it was all said and done, the only way I could describe it was that they dyed my brown hair brown. Mom just gushed over it for the remainder of my visit. My stepdad was hoping I’d get blond highlights. Nobody back at school noticed.

Truth be told, I still don’t see a need to learn these “skills.” Whenever I’ve really needed to look especially presentable, it’s been for weddings and there were plenty of experienced girls around to help me out. The annual Christmas parties don’t require much more than some lipstick and blush.

I can apply chapstick like nobody’s business, so I get by just fine.


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