Beauty and Pain
“Shut up. BEAUTY IS PAIN!” my sister yelled at me. It was meant to be funny and it was. Sort of. She was helping me dye my hair. I was complaining that shit was getting in my eyes as she rinsed my hair in the kitchen sink. There was no sympathy there, just a sharp reprisal. Beauty is pain. We both laughed.
This is the kind of crap that happens when my younger sister and I get together. My sister and I are different. She has fashion sense. She knows how to style her hair and apply makeup. She knows how to dress. She’s pretty and men still compliment her looks. She’s three and a half years younger than me. She looks a lot younger. Her clothes fit and hang well. She’s always trying to help me in my beauty struggles. It usually involves some level of pain.
I’m a grunge gardening aging Northwest hippy lady, approaching sixty in a couple of years. I’ve let my hair go gray. My teeth hurt when I whiten them so they are dull. I hate shopping and my wardrobe proves it. My makeup routine consists of moisturizer, cover stick to hide the little bit of acne that my 58 year old face still manages to manufacture, and eye liner, sometimes.
The thing my sister said about beauty being pain is true for me. I suspect it is for most women. I dare say most women are a hell of a lot more willing to endure the pain, in order to be considered attractive and desirable, than I am. Even those pushing sixty. I honestly don’t have much patience for it any more. It’s kind of annoying. And it is painful.
It’s painful and annoying to sit in a beauty salon for three hours getting your hair colored and highlighted. I’ve done it. It sucks. I don’t do it anymore. You end up sitting under a hairdryer with five pounds of aluminum foil on your head breathing hot ammonia fumes. The fumes blow into your eyes and they water and burn and get blood shot. Your scalp is uncomfortable and itchy but you can’t scratch it. If you touch that goop in your hair your fingers will burn and itch something wicked. And the magazines suck. People magazine?? Who reads that shit?
It’s painful and annoying to have your arms or legs waxed. Apparently, even eye brows and facial hair object to being ripped out by the roots. And of course waxing makes your skin swell and turn bright red and you look awful for the rest of the day. Can you imagine the pain involved in a Brazilian? (which I found out recently when I googled it is a full front to back treatment.) WTF? Have we lost our minds? And then there is the residual waxy-sticky crap waxing leaves behind. How do they deal with that…down there??? Do Brazilians leave gals with red baboon butts for a few days?? Reason number nine why you shouldn’t wear a thong. Reason number eight is chafing.
It’s painful and annoying to wear high heels too. Your toes are crunched and your plantar’s fascitis is taut. Your sense of balance is way off. You walk like a freaking rooster–strut strut strut–not because you’re strutting your stuff (guys take note I’m letting the cat out of the bag here), but because if you try to bend your knees and walk with a natural gait, you will fall flat on your ass or perform a perfect face plant on the sidewalk and ruin your make up. WTH? The greatest gift my husband ever gave me was permission to wear comfortable shoes. Thanks Honey. I love you. But I probably wouldn’t be wearing high heels anyways. Because when I walk I want to be able to bend my knees and get where I’m going injury free. Let’s get real. Strutting in heels is for runways and porn. Period. It’s just too painful and dangerous otherwise.
So yeah, it was funny when my sister yelled at me–BEAUTY IS PAIN! But it was also true. Which isn’t so funny. Woman endure all kinds of pain and expense in order to live up to the beauty ideals society has constructed for us. We spend inordinate amounts of money and time in the pursuit of those ideals. We expose ourselves to chemicals and toxic substances in our cosmetics and beauty rituals with unknown consequences. We have exposed animals in the wild and those living miserable lives in laboratory cages to chemicals and plastic micro beads and toxic cocktails that only Chemical Ali could appreciate, with devastating effect. We raise our daughters to covet the compliments and chase the ideals just like we do.We have made an industry of plastic surgery. And dieting. And beauty. Sometimes I wonder what the motivation is. Who are we trying to please and who are we pleasing, really, enduring all this pain? In the name of beauty.
Think on this: While you are “pampering” yourself with a spa day consisting of intricate beauty rituals so you can come out looking and feeling fabulous, your old man is likely “pampering” himself sitting on the couch watching Nascar and belching brats and beer. And you are still gonna love him when you walk in the door all soft and smelling good and looking fabulous from head to toe, aren’t you? Will he even consider getting up and brushing his teeth before you get home? I wonder. Tell me, How the hell did we get HERE ladies?
Yes, Beauty IS pain. And women are bearing the brunt of it. Period. And the Brazilian is proof positive. Period. Beauty is indeed pain.