Just before our summer vacation I was on an ‘anti vanity’ kick’. It started when I cut my own hair — which I wrote about here [Facebook August 18th post] – and included foregoing manicures, pedicures, and all makeup except under eye cover. Since I’m no beauty, and not at my ideal weight, I reasoned that it was silly to bother with preening at all. Although I did continue to work out as I believe a body in motion breathes better, lives longer. I even vowed to let my hair go au natural upon our return as years of bleaching and intermittent straightening have left my locks frizzed-out and unruly.
So, it was with short, barely-highlighted hair and short, plain nails that I headed off to the first stop of our summer holiday: New York, the city of my birth, where my mother still reigns. I looked like a tourist in my hometown with a makeup-free face, ponytailed hair and my Lululemon outfits. My mother shared her frustration about my out-of-place-face with my daughter, asking, “Why can’t she even just put on a little blush?” My charming progeny relayed the exchange to me as she offered me a makeover, which I refused. My daughter is my mother’s revenge.
Despite my lack of style, we enjoyed a lovely family visit touring museums, dining out, sharing stories and making new memories. My mother complimented the Chia Pet atop my head the one time I didn’t force my hair into a bun. “It has a style, it looks nice framing your face,” she said about my curls, which intense humidity of NYC had doubled in volume. She is an eternal optimist – one who might have a point. Granted that no woman likes the hair she has, I had to ask myself why I was spending so much energy trying to pony tail away the existence of my curly-and-too-damaged-to-straighten hair?
I had a six-hour flight to the Emerald Isle to contemplate this. I didn’t. Instead, I watched a couple of movies and napped in the hope of resetting my body clock five hours ahead. No one wears make up in the Irish countryside. Maybe it’s because the people we interacted with seemed happy; they smiled a lot – and often smelled of alcohol.
Being away from my daily grind – even though mine is a comfortable one by any standard – provided perspective. We marveled at the ever-changing weather with its fast-moving rain storms and enjoyed using our rain gear which, because of the protracted drought, looks brand new. We slept late, discovered falconry and enjoyed each other. The circles under my eyes grew lighter and I fit in; everyone’s hair is ‘fluffy’ in Irish weather.
Upon our return to Los Angeles, I felt emotionally lighter. I made appointments for my daughter and I to get pre-start-of-school hair cuts. Thankfully, my hair stylist has a strong stomach and shaped my choppy locks into something resembling a style. My hair isn’t always in a pony tail anymore. Sure, I’ve been to Drybar once or twice – but I’ve also been wearing my browning (soon to grey) curls loose – showcasing its natural state. I figure that change comes more quickly when it’s from a positive place, so I am working to spend less time beating myself up.
People other than my mother have even complimented my short, curly hairdo. Just because I’m not a naturally beautiful woman doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put in a little time, effort and money into looking my best – even if I’m not my thinnest or another’s prettiest. So, I’m typing this with polished nails, dyed eyelashes and eyebrows (more on this enhancement soon), voluminous, curly hair and a smile as I reflect on the best of me – instead of taking yet another inventory of my shortcomings.