Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hair Care and Time Travel

I went out with my hair up yesterday.

Most of you reading this are probably thinking, "So what?" And I know, for most people, this is not a momentous occasion. For me, it's huge.

I have rarely put my hair up, or even put a barrette in it. I have always been incredibly self-conscious with the way I look. If I couldn't get my hair absolutely perfect, I didn't want to do anything with it. I didn't want to make it look like I spent time on it for it to end up looking like crap. I figured it would draw more attention to it if I had something in it; at least if it was just hanging down, it would just look like I didn't care. Even as I write it I can't get my thoughts to come across clearly - I know it's a totally messed up way to think. But this is why I rarely wear makeup or do anything with my hair. I know it's the perfectionist in me: "If I can't make it look perfect, I'm just not going to do anything at all." But this is the way I've lived my life.

It used to be worse.

In high school, I had a job working at a summer camp as the music and drama counselor. I had free time that I could use the pool if I wanted. Please. I couldn't even bring myself to wear shorts. I was so painfully aware of the fact that even with freshly shaven legs, you could still see the hair follicles (the curse of dark hair) on my leg. And don't even get me started about my bikini line. I STILL can't wear a "normal" bathing suit. But I used to wear jeans every day. And it was HOT!! I just couldn't bear allowing others to see my legs, so I opted instead to be beyond uncomfortable all summer long. And what a long summer it was.

So yesterday, sweating as I ran around the house getting the kids ready for school, I pulled out a clip, grabbed my hair into a ponytail, twisted it around and secured it to my head. Every half hour or so, my bangs would fall out enough to make me do the whole thing over again. Not once did I feel compelled to check it out in the mirror. It was up, it was off my neck, it was fine. I even went out to run a few errands like that and worked in the backyard.

It made me think back to how I used to be, so hyper-aware of what everyone else might think that I could barely function. I got pretty good at putting up a front with people that I knew, afterall, I am an actress! But rarely was I able to relax and be comfortable, to be myself. I'm happy with my life now, but sometimes I get to thinking about what my life could have been like if I was able to go back to the girl I was then and tell her what I know now. I'd tell her that most people don't even notice the things that I'm so self-conscious of, that even if they did - who cares?!! I would tell her to relax and stop trying so hard to fit in, that it's more important to just be happy. I almost wish I could relive some of those times again, but as I am now. It would be such a different experience, I think.

How about you? Would you relive any of it, if you could? Or would you go back and give your younger self a "talking to" if you could? What would you say?


rhonda said...

I was the exact same way growing up. I would tell my young self the same thing you would tell your young self.

We were WAY to self-concsious!

Mom Nancy said...

I feel like I don't need to go back and talk to my younger self - I spend way too much time trying to get my CURRENT teenage girl to not be so concerned about makeup, hair, boys! It's exhausting enough. I don't think that I worried that much about my appearance back then, but I never wore much makeup - I was kind of intimidated and thought my parents wouldn't approve or something so I just never did it.

me said...

I think we all look back on younger years and say "if only", i remeber always thinking i was fat. umm scuse me...i would KILL to be that thin again, i never appreciated how i looked (i was a late bloomer) and now looking at my senior pic...i was beautiful. all that being said, everything i used to be or did is what made me who i am today, and i am finally happy with me.

TracyRuth said...

Growing up I was obsessed with how I looked. I spent a huge amount of time on my hair, makeup, and clothes. I was like that until after I graduated college. After college, I was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that changed my life. That made me reevaluate and I realized that there were so many more important things in life. Now going to the mall to shop is toture. I get my hair cut on a regular schedule because I want to be well groomed, and I put on the absolute minimum amount of makeup. It no longer matters if I am in the most stylish clothes. I don't know that I would change my "young" self. I enjoyed life to its fullest and I am thankful that I was able to have such a joyous and fun youth.

pkzcass said...

I always did my hair and started using makeup in high school. My mother drove me to it by making me feel as though I wasn't pretty unless I had a full face on. And even with the makeup, etc., I certainly wasn't the most beautiful thing you ever saw. How do I know this? All of the high school crushes I had that went unnoticed. How the cute boys dated only the cute girls with the most stylish clothes. We were too poor for me to have stylish clothes.

Nevertheless, it didn't discourage me. I continued to do my hair and wear makeup through college and my working career, and well, every day of my life thereafter. I still do, even on the weekends. Why? For two reasons. First is because I definitely think that no matter how you look, makeup applied properly can only make you look better. Who doesn't look better with eyelashes, even skin tone, no dark circles under her eyes, pink cheeks and some colorful lips? I guess I equate the whole idea of makeup/"done" hair with a person's opinion of herself. One of my biggest fears is looking like a rag. Which I would if I didn't style my hair every day or put on at least the basics of makeup. I want to look young for my boys. I want them to remember how their mother always looked put together.

I also want to look good for my husband. When he met me, I always had makeup on and my hair done. He likes me that way...that's the person he married. Aside from factors that he can't control, i.e. the receding hairline, he hasn't changed much physically since we were married 16 years ago. In fact, he's in better shape now than he ever was. And if he likes my hair long, then I figure it's the least I can do to make him happy. If, after having children, I cut my hair and decided to stop highlighting it and quit wearing makeup, I'm sure I'd be in a very unhappy marriage right now. And I wouldn't blame him for the way he'd feel.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that doing things to make yourself look better doesn't have to mean you don't like yourself as you are. I remember in college we would talk about letting people see the "real" you...meaning the one without makeup and curled hair. I read an essay in college titled "Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?" The message it got across to me was that the girl who spent time doing makeup and her hair in the morning was the real me. It didn't mean that I was not who I appeared to be. (God knows, makeup couldn't alter my looks THAT much.) It just meant that I liked how I looked with makeup and my hair done.

And I still do, which is why you'll never see me without my hair styled or without foundation, concealer, and mascara.

HolyMama! said...

great post! i'd NEVER go back though!

If i had the chance for a talking to, i guess i'd say, don't drink. Meet God, like, NOW, not later.

HolyMama! said...

(i don't wear shorts because my first pregnancy caused stretch marks ALL THE WAY down to my calves!!)