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    Naturally Pretty

    If you’re a woman reading this, you know what maintenance is.  Grooming your hair, removing unwanted hair, nails, skincare, treatments… the list goes on and on.

    If you’re a man reading this: you have two choices. You can 1) Proceed to read this and have a higher appreciation for the time and care us women put into ourselves or 2) Stop reading this, and play along with the “women of mystery” that claim they wake up looking exactly how they look when you see them.  Feed into that if that’s what you gotta do.

    But boys, no matter what you choose of options one and two, at least admit this: you could never endure what we do.

    ***

    “Beauty is pain.”  I will never forget hearing this, but I do forget who said it to me. It may have been my grandma brushing tangles out of my hair or it may have been an eyebrow technician waxing off stray hairs, I’m not certain. What I do know is that I heard it as a youngster and it didn’t make me feel better.

    I was a logical young lady. Skeptical and somewhat optimistic, I thought to myself: There are a lot of beautiful women out there. There is no way all of them absolutely had to endure pain to look pretty.

    As logical and optimistic as I was, I was much more naive.

    I always prided myself on how “natural” I was. Sure, I never considered myself to be a Beauty Queen, but I knew I didn’t require too much work to feel presentable. Still to this day, I don’t wear much makeup, it takes me a quick few minutes to get dressed, I dress pretty comfortably and I’ve never gotten any sort of plastic or cosmetic surgery.

    But then one day it hit me… I may not cake on makeup and get cosmetic procedures, but I sure spend a lot of time on maintenance. In fact, it’s sort of depressing when stumbling upon the realization that for how much money and time I spend on myself, I should look a lot better.

    I hope the rest of you ladies out there feel differently, because it’s a horrible realization mixed with a challenge/threat/dare to yourself to forego all maintenance and then see how you look.

    Let’s start with hair.  Mine is long, thick, and wavy. It takes a lot of time, energy and upper arm strength to blow dry it. Consequently, I get it blown out a lot. I mean, I could do it myself but it would take close to two hours and it wouldn’t look half as good. I justify the cost to myself by the fact that I don’t dye my hair or get highlights, but then I think to myself: one day I’ll have to cover all of these thick strands of gray hair and get these blowouts. Hopefully by then, I’ll be making so much money and I’ll have so much time on my hands that I won’t care how much time and money the blowout costs me. Like I said, I’ve always been optimistic and logical … and naïve.

    And the irony in all of this? My fiancé, my friends, and relatives… basically everyone (except me) who sees my hair worn naturally (air-dried and wavy) prefers I wear it that way.  So why do I spend all the time and money to blow it out straight? Because it gives me confidence. There, I said it.

    That brings us to hair removal. I mean, it’s a crazy business. A crazy, lucrative, often complex, sometimes artistic line of work. When I lived in Chicago, I underwent laser hair removal and although it was expensive and painful, let me tell you, that is the gift that keeps on giving. So yes, when I lift my arm, some people may think I’m naturally hairless. They may watch me effortlessly and easily extend my arm in the air and assume it was just as effortless and easy to have an underarm look like that.

    Or they may not even think anything about it.

    If they only knew the sound of my scream as the laser technician pointed a leaser beam to my armpit… they’d either 1) judge me and encourage me to buy a good old-fashioned razor or 2) commend me for my bravery and encourage me to wear as many sleeveless tops as possible to get my pain’s and money’s worth. And what about waxing? It’s amazing how I’m scared to kill a spider or how I cover my eyes during a violent movie, yet I’ll willingly have a bowl of scolding hot wax poured on my body.

    That brings me to nails. Oh goodness. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ll receive a text asking me what I’m doing, and I text back that “I’m getting a manicure.” It’s getting to the point where I’m so self conscious of the frequency of that response, that I sometimes can’t help but respond with a “not much.” It’s probably the one circumstance in my life where I am brief, vague, and not up for details.  It’s becoming a real insecurity. I can’t lie to my fiancé about my whereabouts, because he knows the nail salon is directly across the street from our apartment. So, I opt for the occasional embellishment- “I’m getting a polish change.” Like he even knows the difference, cares, or is paying attention.

    In New York, I’ve found that surprisingly, all beauty services are significantly cheaper- I think because there’s so many of them, so I justify my frequent manicures by the fact that they cost half the price. However, they must be half the quality too…. because I’m in the nail salon way too often.

    And the ironic part? When I got engaged, I had a chip on my ring finger nail.

    And right after I returned home from a magical afternoon of celebrating my engagement with family and friends, you better believe I changed into sweats and was sitting at the nail salon getting a fresh polish change, because god forbid anyone else see the chip.

    Then there’s makeup. I don’t wear much makeup, but I definitely do buy it. And lotions? I mean, it’s a pretty hopeless situation. I feel like I’m always lathering up and re-purchasing hand creams, body lotions, face moisturizers. I mean, you’d think I’m hiding a pet crocodile in my apartment.  After I shower, in the day, before bed… all day. It blows my mind how much lotion I purchase and how often I’m rubbing it on my skin. Sometimes, when I repurchase a tub of lotion, the saleswoman will throw in a “This may seem like a lot of money for lotion, but it will last you a few solid months.” I could scream. Two weeks. Tops.

    Sometimes when my friends’ significant others comment on how much “maintenance” their ladies endure, it really hits a nerve. Cursing them for divulging the personal work their ladies go through, I always make sure to add a “You have no idea. (Pause for dramatic effect.) No idea. That’s nothing compared to some girls!”

    And it’s true. There are girls that have standing appointments for skin procedures, spray tans, hair, make-up, trainers…. The list is endless.

    But then I feel like a hypocrite knocking the women who undergo all their appointments. Who am I to judge? I’m getting the “basics” and it’s still costing a boatload of time and money. And let’s be honest- I still don’t look so good.

    It’s all depressing and exhausting. It really is. I mean, even though we’re sitting down or lying down or knocked out for all of this maintenance, it is work.  And it’s pain. Work and pain.  And after all of the work and pain, I really don’t look so hot most of the time. In fact, I’m in sweats the majority of my day. Come to think about it, maybe I should get my money’s worth for all my maintenance, and put on some proper clothes.

    Yesterday night I walked outside confronted by a woman holding a sign indicating she was homeless and in need of cash.

    The homeless woman and I – wearing the exact same outfit- walked side by side into a 7-11. Both of us wearing oversized hoodies, I couldn’t see her face and her hair when outdoors. However, once we walked into the electric lighted can’t-hide-a-flaw 7-11, I came to the realization that despite our matching outfits, she looked a hell of a lot better than I.

    Are homeless women begging for money so they can afford maintenance? Or, does she just have really great genes? Whatever the answer, she may not have a home, but she does have killer hair.

    Is it wrong that walking home, I seriously considered that this woman could actually live in my building and sat outside holding a sign to collect money for her blowdry fund? Great. Those singles that nice man just handed her are definitely a part of the Dry Bar stylist’s tip.

    Yes, this is all very depressing. No, I will not kill a spider. Yes, I will get waxed. No, I don’t wear a lot of makeup. Yes, my manicurist and hair technician get a holiday present. No, I haven’t changed out of these sweat pants all day. Yes, beauty is pain and yes, I will continue to get the maintenance.

    And the ironic part about it? For all the work, pain, money, I leave these appointments feeling fabulous.  Naturally.

     

    3 Responses to “Naturally Pretty”

    1. Lauren S. says:

      Great one!! You always look good to me, man ;)

    2. mom says:

      Agree with Lauren!..mom

    3. gayle says:

      I love lotions too!!!Def need the manicures.. hair for me is easy to blow dry but wait til the grey arrives!!! OMG!!
      Love this on Emily!!
      XOXO

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