I have never understood women who claim to do the hair’n’makeup thing ‘for themselves.’ I used to make the same claim but had twisted it into:
I want to be more attractive to men, therefore, I wear makeup. Being attractive to men is for me!
I was a typical ‘She’s Out of Control girl. I wore thick glasses until I was 16 and still have nightmares about the state of my teeth. I had long hair which I habitually scraped back from my face into a plait which went from the nape of my neck to my waist. I wore no makeup. I had no ‘trendy’ clothes.
Until I was about 14 I was more interested in horses than boys. I didn’t have any friends at school but did have like-minded buddies at the local stables so all was fairly OK (although I wouldn’t go back to the bullying I experienced at school for anything).
At 14, things changed. I got two friends from school – and they could be fairly described as ‘pretty.’ They got attention from boys and I wanted the same. Horses faded out of the picture – I was studying for exams and had really outgrown The Pony Club anyway.
I overcame a lifetime’s terror of dentists and got my teeth fixed. I stopped wearing glasses unless I was required to see something – my friends promised to stop me chatting to ugly boys as I really was and am blind without lenses of some description. I learned how to apply makeup and what clothes to wear. And so I entered the worlds of ‘Looking Nice’ and ‘Romance.’
The two worlds were twinned in my mind. Looking Nice = Romance. Simple. And it worked. I got boyfriends. And got out of control. It was a fun time in many ways but, as with the schoolyard bullying, I wouldn’t go back there if you offered me the world.
As an adult, I continued the patterns I learned as a teen. I wouldn’t go across the road to buy a pint of milk without eye-liner. I had a goth phase and probably looked like Morticia. And then my mental health deteriorated and just getting through each day occupied all of my energies and ‘beauty’ fell by the wayside. You could have assessed my mental health just by looking at me: hair’n’makeup = well; didn’t-even-shower = sick.
Things got more complicated when I became a Christian and then started to take my faith seriously a number of years later. I was (and possibly still am) conservative and traditional in outlook and, having read the letters of St Paul and attended various conservative-thinking Churches, I developed a liking for plainness: headcovering, submission, no make-up, skirts and dresses only. I tried really hard to live up to the ideals I created but always fell short. In retrospect, while tarting myself up to attract romance was wrong so was moving to the other extreme. Just call me All-Or-Nothing Girl.
You can fast-forward now to a couple of weeks ago. At RCIA, we talked about how to read and apply the Bible to one’s own situation in life. I learned that parts of the Bible should be take literally, parts are allegorical and parts were intended for a specific place and time with the underlying intention coming to us today. The lady leading the discussion specifically mentioned Paul’s writings on women fitting into the third category. Talk about getting food for thought!
Since that meeting, I’ve given the subject a lot of thought and I’ve discovered that I enjoy making myself ‘look nice’. It’s for me – I enjoy the process of doing my hair, putting on a bit of make-up, deciding what to wear. I enjoy the effect when I look in the mirror. I’m not out to ensnare a man or ’cause a brother to sin.’ I think it’s possible to be modest (the message Paul was trying to get across) and still ‘look nice’.
I really like this more balanced way of thinking. Maybe All-or-Nothing Girl’s days are numbered?