Last Saturday, I couldn’t take it anymore. My manicure was three weeks old. My nails were cracked, and the old nail polish was chipped down to a small semi circles on each nail. On a super busy weekend, I ran to the nail place for a mani-pedi.
Getting a regular manicure is a new thing for me. I never had the time or the money for lots of self-maintenance in the past. And I kinda hate it. Sitting under the nail blower for fifteen minutes waiting for the polish to dry is torture. I’m way too ADD to just chill out and enjoy the whole process. Half the time, I bolt out of the place with tacky nails that inevitably gets dinged, when I get to the car and fish around for a seatbelt.
But now I’m hooked. I’ve gotten used to having nicely filed nails. When I let them go, I feel positively itchy. Likewise with other maintenance chores that have now become part of my routine. I have to get my eyebrows threaded and shaped every two weeks. Every two months, Lauren the hairdresser spends 2-1/2 hours making my red hair a uniform color and then cutting and blow drying straight. At the moment, my natural color is auburn on the side and back, white at the temples, and blond on top; red hair ages oddly.
I have never spent so much time or money on my personal appearance before. And I’m uncomfortable with the whole business. Every hour in the salon is time that I could be doing something more productive.
And I do a whole lot less on my appearance than other professional women. Whenever a group of young women journalists and other professional commentators appears on CNN talking super important stuff about impeachment or corruption in the government, I’m forever distracted by checking out the perfection of their hair and makeup.
They must spend hours in a chair getting beautiful before sitting in front of the camera. There’s not a hair out of place. No natural curls there. They have glued on fake eyelashes and an inch of make up. And before that, there were probably tons of visits to dermatologists and spas to keep that chin from sagging and to close up that dent between the eyebrows.
Looking beautiful means less time reading, researching, reading, interviewing, and just getting smarter. It gives the dudes who just need a haircut and a suit such a huge edge. And I feel like the standards keep getting higher and higher.
Looking pretty is fine. Like I said, I like that my nails are trimmed and my hair is tamed, but there’s a point when it interferes with work. And life! I would like a bit of a return of old school 70s feminism that understood that trade-off.