a little something extra

a little something extra

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vanity, thy Name is not Trish


I want to talk about how we women are pushed into thinking we're not that great, after all.

I know what you're thinking--"I'm great, and nobody pushes ME around!"  But think about it.  How much time and money do women spend on having their hair cut, styled and colored?   Make-up, the stuff that inevitably gives you zits and maybe cause you to scrutinize your wrinkles a little more than what's healthy--why do we wear it?  Whe do we starve ourselves, work out insanely, and have plastic surgery?


I know that our species is prgrammed to decorate itself.  I get that.  That's what clothes are for.
I also realize that we're all competative, except for maybe the Daili Lama.  So I understand the need to stand out and be better.  But who defines "better"?  Companies that want to sell you stuff.  Often useless, sometimes dangerous, purse draining products.  And we women buy it--their stuff, along with the dream of an ultimate look, body, whatever. 

Ladies, I bought into the dream for years.  I did the hair, the nails, the make up, the starving.  In college at school I barely ate--this was the 80's and waif thin was the way to go.  How was I gonna look good if, god forbid, I weighed over 100 pounds and had bad hair and no makup and nude nails?  All the ads in magazines and on TV said I had to be a certain way to be "right".  Ads that very subtly said that if I didn't look a particular way, there was something fundamentally wrong with me.  If I got a wrinkle or forgot to tweeze my brows, it was a character fault.  If I graduated from a size 3 into a size 8 I was a hedonistic overeating slob.  A person who didn't strive to be perfect.

I don't do perfect.  I do happy.  And I work very hard on happy, every single day. 

My whole life I've been clinically depressed and anxious.  I've had a few tumbles into the abyss, one of which came perilously close to a trip to a room where the doors lock only on the outside.  And a lot of it, I see now, is my own damn fault.  First and foremost is simply being stubborn and not wanting to admit I need medication.  I'm past that.  Secondly, and more insiduously is the constant drone in the background:  "You could be Better!  You could be Prettier!  You could Improve Yourself!" the soul sucking sussuration of society.  Nowadays, I refuse to listen, and strangely enough, I have my job to thank for that.

 Work, along with providing a living, has pared me down and weaned me from self ornementation.  Some of my shedding has been practical; i.e. there's no good reason to get all dolled up for a graveyard shift.  I wear a hard hat a lot...practical ponytail to the rescue.  No fancy nails cause I get dirty sometimes.  Oh, and I wear a uniform, so no clothes worries.  Plus, I work with people who value me for my skills, not skillful make up.  After work?  Hubby loves me as I am, no matter what I look like.  And so do I.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts...please leave me a comment!



UPDATE:  Keep the comments coming!  I want to do another related post and I need your input!
Hurrah for friends!


Cat said...

Hi Trish, you've always seemed very happy to me so I think you must be doing something right :-)

My brother died last month at age 55. For a year I watched cancer steal him from me and my family and that put a lot of things in perspective. I don't think I will ever complain again about getting older (and wrinklier) because I've seen the alternative. Living, loving, laughing and learning these are the truly important things!

Kea said...

I could write reams on this. LOL.

The fact that I've never had a waif body type, even via diet, always bothered me. Pear-shaped, chunky, unattractive legs. Of course now that I'm almost 47, much is sagging. The odd thing is that I care less now. Maybe because I'm more at peace with who I am -- I think that comes with age and experience. I don't wear makeup except for a bit of foundation sometimes (my skin still breaks out, especially around PMS time) and concealer. Lip gloss. Nails are trimmed right down, never polished. I've never had a facial or pedicure in my life, one manicure when I was 10 years old (my father's dad treated mom and I to manicures). So I'm pretty down to earth. There's no lily to gild and there never was, I've always known that. I have a attractive face, but I'm getting the paternal middle-aged double chin and I'm carrying about 20 or so too many pounds now.

And so what? We're all heading toward death. Seriously. What a waste of time for someone my age to spend their time trying look 25.

Perhaps if women are still consciously or unconsciously competing for men, they're more apt to buy into the nonsense being pushed on us by the beauty industry. Perhaps because I'm not, that's allowed me the freedom to just let it all hang out. So to speak. :-P

Old Kitty said...

I can honestly say that it's only when I turned 40 - oh ok 39! - that I started to enjoy pretty things and wanting to make myself look pretty. Not for anyone (I'd just left a long term relationship and boy was I NOT looking, no way!!!!!) but because I had really abandoned enjoying these girly frilly things for myself.

When I was in my teens and twenties, thirties, I know I was moulding myself to what everyone and their brother were wanting me to be.

It took me deciding to walk away to choose to be with myself and my kitties to then really enjoy my vanity. And I am very vain. I love doing my nails and my hair and trying on outfits and shoes and shopping and looking at all things pink and frilly and flowery.

Oh I hope I've not put you off me! LOL!!!! But I can honestly say hand on my heart - these things I do to me I do for my own gratification. And it's so enjoyable and makes me very happy indeed!! Now if only I can write a novel that's going to make me famous! LOL!!!!

Take care

Kea said...

I came back to add something interesting about anti-aging skin products, read Jennifer's comment and will say that I don't think there's anything wrong in doing these things for *yourself*. It's another thing if you are trying to be someone else's ideal.

Anyway. Anti-aging skin products.

I watched a VERY interesting documentary a couple of weekends ago, on CBC television (Canada's version of the BBC), all about the anti-aging industry as a scam. Modern day snake oil. Investigated and hosted by CBC's well-known science reporter, Bob MacDonald.

Turns out the anti-aging skin creams don't really moisturize your skin. They contain a mild irritant that inflames your skin--which causes the appearance of wrinkles to lessen. The scientist they interviewed for that portion of the documentary said very simply that moisturizers don't work.

Well, I *do* have L'Oreal's Revitalift in my bathroom cabinet. LOL. But I'm not going to throw it away, either. :-P

But it just goes to show...Don't waste your money on the anti-aging stuff...spend the money on a good sunscreen instead. LOL.

Derby, Ducky said...

Never got into the overly female stuff. Tomboy as a kid, still a tomboy today. I look nice, but by no means glamor girl. The one thing I have going for me is genetics. Most people think I amd 10-15 years younger than I am. That is ok with me. Now and then I do the pamper bit. Get the nails done, but not that often.

lupie said...

I have 'layers' ... hehehee ...
Don't know much about makeup except for lipstick and lately, BB Cream.

Cory said...

I go between loving nice clothes because they make me feel good...and being a perpetual tomboy...riding my bike in the dirt and not being worried about people seeing me a total mess. I don't do it for anyone else but me.

ABBY said...

I have ALWAYS had weight isssues.
I have lost 100 pounds 4 times.
I did not get "it" until 3 years ago when my body became diabetic.
Then I got it. Dropped the weight one LAST time and decided to br healthy. I will be 55 on my birthday this year and I don't have many decades in front of me like I did in the past.
Because of the weight I never looked worth a flip in clothes.
There is a lot I could write about finally being able to shop at a "normal" store,and looking normal.
But now I am past prime but I do want to reward myself since I gave up my addiction to food.
I want to look nice for me, but like Kim alluded to there is all that gravity in addition to my case of skin being stretched.
So, it's futile to believe those anti-aging gurus.
Very interesting post Trish!

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

That sounds so familiar. I did end up in the hospital due to my OCD and that was part of it. Perfection...the unobtainable. The story is long and twisted and I'm still not "happy" but at least I'm no longer killing myself slowly and there are some things that do make me happy, like my kitties and the foster kittens. No longer is my house spotless (pretty much it should be considered a bio-hazard), my hair and make-up perfect or my jeans a size 6 and I do not care.

Fin said...

I try to make choices based on what makes me happy. I like sparkly nail polish.

I feel like I need to take better care of myself, not for vanity but for health. I've always been overweight because it makes me feel insulated and invisible (yes the irony is rich in me)and so losing weight for health reasons is still an emotional journey.

The Mom

Natalie said...

Great post, Trish! It sounds like you have found great balance and happiness, which is especially wonderful after the struggles you described.

I have always been a neurotic mess, and while much of my issues are genetic, I think some started as a kid with my constant efforts to fit in with the "cool" girls. After high school I gave up and tried out various alternative options, from raccoon-eyed goth to un-groomed hippie to multi-pierced punk. My weight yo-yo-ed dangerously, I was deeply unhappy, and I ended up in a place where the doors only lock on the outside (love that description, btw).

In the intervening years, I've discovered my own style, which is far from trendy but which works for me. I like putting on makeup every day and wearing absurdly high heels for no reason at all because it makes me feel confident and happy.

As for all those products marketed toward women, particularly anti-aging ones, I have to admit I've tried quite a few. It's so easy to fall prey! These days, though, I'm down to two main skincare products, which are more for the health of my skin than for vanity: sunscreen, which I slather on my beluga-hued torso every morning, and Aquaphor, which I practically bathe in every night.

I guess the important thing is for every woman to find her own balance, whether she wears stilettos, doc martens, or something in between. You are so lucky to have found yours!

Kathie said...

Trish, I enjoyed this post very much, not hearing of your unhappiness years ago but reading about your happiness now. I have fought depression all my life and yes I mean ALL my life, even as a small child and my memories go back to age 3, I never felt truly happy. I first was started on medication when I was in my early 30's and asked the doctor at the time if I would have to take these for the rest of my life----his response was he didn't know, but if I DID, to consider it like taking insulin for diabetes, it was something I needed to live. Back then (60's) drugs were prevalent and I didn't want to be thought of as a druggie because I wasn't.
I came into my own in my late 40's. That's when I began doing things for myself and not because it was the "thing" to do. I started to wear foundation which I had always avoided due to acne and everything made my pores look enormous but I found that mineral make-up didn't. I lost my eyebrows during chemo for BC so I use pencil now, and some mascara. At 68 I am not looking to attract a man, but have found this little bit makes me feel better for me. I am not a clothes horse and work in scrubs, when I am not working I live in jeans and tees or jeans and sweatshirts in winter. Since hip replacement I have worn nothing but New Balance athletic walking shoes.
Since I no longer feel like I have to keep up with a standard that everyone else thinks I should conform to, I am much more relaxed and if not "happy" all the time I am content, and of course as others have said my kitties help with that feeling.

Admiral Hestorb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr Puddy said...

Mom Trish,
My mommy love this topic,She will be back to do comment.

Boom Nisanart said...

Puddy's mom here. Love this Topic Mom Trish : )

Me too...I don't do perfect, ( Too hard to do, Let's forget about it..heh..hee )

But I'm the same as Derby, Ducky's Mom. I was a Tomboy as a kid, still a tomboy today ( My Husband calls me " Bruce " sometime : )

I dress like woman sometime. But Not really successful When I was teenager. Most of my friends said " Boom , you look like gay ! " even One of my gay friends said " You should do surgery, Woman is not in trend anymore , Let's get a D_ _ _ " ...I can't blame them because I walk like a man , Talk like a man, My husband said I think like a man as well. But it's weird, I never be a lesbian and I have a husband ( my mom couldn't believe this ! )

I used to do make up but I wasn't keen on it. I was so lazy. I just love short hair, Jean,T-shirt and Runner Shoes ! I still kept this style till today ( I'm 43 ) I'm lazy, Trish I can't be bother to dress up. Excepted, I have to go to the party ! But I still don't do skirt.. I just don't like it.I'm big fan of pants : )

I used to let the hair long twice in my life, I found it's not my thing. It look like a woman. But I'm too lazy to get it look good and other thing, Men always take me wrong way ( when I look like a woman ), They always think I flirt on them, The conversation was suck ! but when I look like the Tomboy, I get the conversation by the topic. That's better for me.

And when I looked like woman, I got trouble by another topic. Because I'm Asian..look younger than my age and my body is skinny, tiny and my husband is white and pretty tall, white hair and look older than his age ( he is 48 ) People always think " I'm a working girl and my husby is a dirty old man " but now they confuse " Old man and the tomboy ..ha..ha "

I think do whatever you feel good about yourself, That might be the best !


PS : Thanks for this topic, I just love it !

Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

Hi Trish, an interesting topic!

I do still wear make up and wear nice clothes and shoes, and stay trim ~ but I do it for myself. I do it because I enjoy looking good and still love clothes. I'm not a "follower of fashion" though ~ I wear what I like and what suits me!

I don't do fake nails and only go to the hairdressers a couple of times a year because I have long hair that sits well, and only needs an occasional trim.

I don't worry about the aging process ~ good health is far more important to me. I don't have many facial lines despite being 58, but when they eventually come, I will have earned every one and will wear them with pride.

I am quietly confident in myself and that's good enough for me!


Punapippuri said...

Karin, Punapippuri's Ă„iti here.

Great post Trish, all those who have commented. Is there a theme here... ? Most commenters have cat blogs and don't buy into the 'perfect woman' stuff. Must be all the fur and hairballs. They ruin our nails.

Now I am past 40 and have emigrated to what seems like the least fashion conscious country possible, I wonder if I have truly got away with being myself, and somehow that feels selfish. I have never bothered to try to look good and must admit I fit the stereotype of overweight lesbian. And then throw in mental health problems - depression (probably Asperger's too). I have worn make up twice in my life - once as a child (and hated it) and once for tv. Never had a manicure. Always eaten addictively and I do want to lose weight for health reasons. I guess I don't care what I look like and personal comfort is more important - that's where I wonder if I am selfish. However I am happy in my own skin and those who matter don't care. They do all happen to be feline though !

MTVA said...

What a great topic! I love knowing that others think like I do on this subject. Maturing (ok, getting old...) seems to bring us to more confidence and acceptance of ourselves, and the ability to do as much or as little as we want in prettying ourselves. I always loved ruffles and jewelry, etc. when young, now as an avid gardener, as well as having to get both men's and women's work done around here, comfort and practicality usually comes in first! And one thing that always bothered me is how much we do to make ourselves desirable to men, who do not seem bound by the obsession to make themselves desirable to us. They figure we will accept them as they are - why is it so hard for US to do this as well?

Finally, it's fascinating to see this side of yourself, in addition to the happy and fun-loving mom of many cats! You bring so much happiness to all of us, and I hope you will always be happy.

The Island Cats said...

Great topic and I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments! I find the older I get, the less I care about how I look. But I do like to look nice and wear make-up most of the time when I go out (not a lot, but enough). And since I work in an office, I do dress up for work even though the company recently adopted a more casual dress code. I don't get manicures, can't stand nail polish on my nails, but won't wear a pair of sandals without having my toenails polished...figure that one out!! My hair is very short so I do get it cut once a month to keep it up. I do all of this for me...it makes me feel good about myself.

But I have to admit, I am concerned about getting old...I don't want to look old...and I don't want to feel old either. Most people don't think I'm as old as I am which makes me feel good. So I try to take good care of myself, eat right...however I do need to exercise more!!

Island Cats' mom