One needs only to burn their bicep with a curling iron to begin thinking of vanity.
It was Sunday. I want to write that I was rushed, that the burn was a byproduct of a frenzied morning and a failed attempt in multi-tasking, but the truth is that my mind was elsewhere and my reflexes are slow, and now there is a purplish-reddish Illinois on my upper arm.
When I survey the many hours I have collected in front of the bathroom mirror – blow-drying, plucking, moisturizing, brushing, applying, removing and styling, it makes me weary. Even in keeping a relatively low maintenance beauty routine, the math is staggering: thirty minutes daily, for thirty plus years, let me pull up the calculator… no, this math cannot be true:
And I wonder why I have not yet found the time to take up the piano.
But oh, I love to look pretty. I love to feel seen, to improve, to appear transformed with a brush and some cream. Before and after. Made over. Put together.
My grandmother used to call it this, put together. “You’ll want to look put together, young lady.” As if we were broken and needed reconfigured, as if we were not yet one, not yet together, not yet whole prior to the applying of the lipstick, the detangling of the curls.
Of course we are not whole, of course we are not complete, of course we are terribly broken. A dab of concealer will not fix it.
But I still try.
What is it about concealing that makes us feel better, that makes us assume we are putting our best face forward? What is it about the clothing we don – the uniforms we create – that scream we are individuals when we are, in fact, camouflaging ourselves into another?
I do not know the solution. I know only that I’m over-thinking it, yes.
Or perhaps I have been under-thinking it for far too long.