Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beauty Resolutions

When it comes to my appearance, I've had the same loose resolutions every year: drop a bit of weight, and/or accept my appearance as-is. (Contradictions? Moi?) The former is easy enough when you set your mind to it, but the latter isn't; it's vague, with no real actionable steps. It's about how you feel, not about how you act, and if we all had control over our feelings we'd be a nation of robots (and therapists would be out of work).

And really, I've never been able to stick to resolutions. But I do have a handful of goals surrounding looks:

1) Go for a week sometime this year without looking in a mirror (except once in the morning).
2) Approach beauty with a sense of play, not duty: Try fun hairstyles, try the occasional makeup "look" instead of my usual oh-I'm-not-wearing-makeup makeup.
3) Flipside: Go for a week without wearing makeup.

And again, these seem contradictory. But what I've learned so far in talking with different women for this blog (starting in 2011, this blog will have weekly interviews with women from all walks of life, focusing on beauty-related issues) is that beauty doesn't have to be about duty. I've been surprised by the joy that a number of women I've talked with have reported about their beauty routine: Many report it as a sensual experience, a time to devote attention to a sense of fantasy. I've always approached hair and makeup with a sort of "ugh" approach, but still I do it. Ideally my beliefs would be in line with my actions, but the fact is I prefer how I look with makeup, so I'm not going to change that. But I want to try to stop approaching beauty mainly as something bestowed upon us--or not bestowed upon us--by others, whether that be nature or whatever "look" is deigned to be in at any given time.

One woman I interviewed described liking her beauty routine because then it felt like something she could opt in or opt out of, instead of something based solely on genetic accidents, and I rather like that. I've chosen not to opt out, but I'm not satisfied with the ways in which I've opted in, either--largely because I'm not looking at it as an option. Perhaps it's not really an option; I don't know, that's part of what I'm trying to investigate. But it's worth a shot.