On keeping up appearances…

6a00e54f05e1bb883400e5512e6d058833-800wiI’ve discovered, over time, that keeping up appearances is something I both love and hate. Some days, there’s nothing I’d rather do than just hang out in a pair of jeans and a grungy t-shirt and do nothing to my hair. But then, I think, what would Marie Antoinette do? Did she EVER have a day when she just didn’t get dressed?

“Oh, sorry, Louis, I just wanted to be déshabille in my chemise and stockings. Non, I didn’t want to wear a beauty patch and powder my hair. Oui, I thought about not wearing mes bijoux diamantes.” No, she got all dressed up. Every day. Even for the guillotine!

So, while I’m sitting here in McDonald’s, typing this entry for my blog, I’m wearing mascara, lipstick, and I’ve done my hair, because even though I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt, there’s no need to look like the canaille!

What about Anne Boleyn? Contrary to popular belief (and far more like The Tudors or The Other Boleyn Girl), in his youth, Henry Anne Boleyn in the TowerVIII was a real stud. He really dug the hot chicks. Anne was one of them. (One of many more than the six official wives.) Believe me, her allure didn’t come from hiking around Hever Castle looking like one of the kitchen maids. No, she had it together. She knew what she wanted. And even when she was under the knife, she looked great and joked with the headsman.

If you need a more modern example, let’s choose Princess Diana. Practically a modern fairy tale, even at the end of her sad marriage and life afterward. I really don’t remember ever having seen a special issue magazine devoted to her bad hair days or wardrobe faux pas. Lady Di, as she was known before her marriage, was nothing if not charming, even when caught without a slip under her dress. Later, her fashions re-energized the London scene. Who can forget her hats, her hosiery? Yes, Prince Charles hung out with his mistress on the side, but did that change the savoir faire of Princess Diana? No. She got up, got dressed and made up, did her hair, and won the world to her side. By. Never. Looking. Like. Crap.

So what is it with so many ladies? I confess, there have been many days when I would go out looking like I’d just crawled out from under a rock. But I can’t tell you how often I go to the supermarket, or the mall, or even to church, and it’s as if there’s this attitude of, “You’re lucky I’m out of bed, and you certainly don’t deserve any better than this!” What it really seems more like is, “I’m lucky to be out of bed, and I don’t think I deserve better than this.” What is it with this attitude of self-loathing? Why, then, do we wonder why so many men pursue strip clubs, pornography both printed and virtual, and even the soft-core porn that we have delivered to our very doors under the label, “Victoria’s Secret”? You’ll notice that they aren’t reading Playboy because the scantily clad models are lacking makeup or haven’t shaved their legs in a year!

Sure, the above mentioned women were all princesses or queens. But they were also moms, and wives. Yes. Mothers. Each of them. To more than one child. And both Marie and Anne had miscarriages. Their husbands were either sexually incompetent (in the case of Marie’s, who literally had to have sex explained to him after they’d been married a year and Marie wrote to her mom that she thought something wasn’t right), or syphilitic (hence Henry’s increasingly murderous attitude, and everyday volatility), or just frustrated (will Elizabeth ever retire?) Except for Diana, who had the “fortune” to die in an accident, the other two spent the last month of their lives in prison, before being executed. Not fun.

And we complain about maybe our husband’s are a little dumb, or we live in a small town, or no one cares anyway, so why bother. Believe me, someone does care, even if that someone isn’t saying anything! Honestly, is anyone going to actually plead for you to put on a coat of mascara? I don’t think so. Seriously. And don’t give me anything about how it’s not about men. Because it is. But it’s also about women. Do you really think the women you go to your Bible study with appreciate your wearing curlers in your hair? Do you honestly think your girlfriends prefer you to be unwashed? I didn’t think so. We all appreciate beauty. Even in other women. Frankly, I think most of the time we really dress up for the other women, not the men, anyway.

No one is saying you have to wear June Cleaver pearls to mop your floor. I know women construction workers who wear lace  underwear, so don’t give me your I’m-a-hard-working-woman lip.

Oh yes, I hear you other ladies, too. No jewelry or makeup. Religious reasons. Fine. I have no problem with that. I lived with the Amish for a year. I know what that’s like. No one wears perfume to milk the cows at 4:00 a.m. But I never met an Amish woman who wore a dirty kappe to church. Who didn’t spend a lot of time ironing the pleats in her skirt. And that’s with an iron she heated on a wood-burning stove. Been there, done that.

So, no more! Enough of this. Ladies, lift up your heads. Get up and get going! No more nonsense. There is just no excuse for not looking like a million bucks. Cosmetics are not of Satan. Styling your hair is no longer optional. Rise up women, and claim your birthright to beauty.

Related articles

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “On keeping up appearances…

  1. This is a thought-provoking piece. However, I am not sure that I can swallow the argument that dressing down is solely an expression of self-loathing. (Can’t it be an expression of rebellion? Or of laziness? Those tend to be the reasons why I dress in grubby jeans and refuse to shave on the weekends.) Furthermore, arguing that the reason to avoid this self-loathing is to satisfy men (!) appears to run counter to the neo-feminist tone of the majority of the piece.

    • Actually, I think the laziness is my biggest gripe. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems like for a lot of the ladies I’m acquainted with, the laziness is just a symptom. The self-loathing is the problem.

  2. I have spent the past few days reading as much of your blogs & book reviews as I can. I find your Post-Modern Feminism both refreshing and insightful. Your writing shows great wit, charm and — most of all – pure talent.
    -KBB

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s