The Pretty Effort

Being pretty or cute doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m not one of those women that can just run a brush through my hair, slap some lip gloss on, and call it good. Well, I could, but the effect wouldn’t be considered cute or pretty. At best it’d be considered okay. At worst, eh, I’d still be in better shape than if I did nothing at all.

My point is that I’m somewhat vain and I like to look pretty or cute (on the days I’m not striving to look beautiful and sexy), but it burns me ass that I have to put so much work into it.

And it puts my friends and family in an awkward position because I’m so well-known for not being girly and this effort that I put into my appearance qualifies as being girly and they just don’t know what to make of it. It makes me uncomfortable.

It also leaves me feeling insecure. Several of my female friends and relatives don’t bother with make-up. They don’t have to use any product in their hair. They’re perfectly fine au natural and dammit if they don’t look cute doing it.

I, on the other hand, have to work at it.

Never is this more illustrated than when I travel. Travelling with my roommate Carrie is no big deal because she’s the beauty master and it’s expected of her to be carrying all of the tricks of her trade. I can’t compete with her and would never want to. However, when I travel with other friends, my girly routine is exposed and in high-contrast to the tomboy attributes that make up so much of my personality.

I don’t count skin care as girly because my skin is an organ and I try to take care of it. Not to mention I have skin issues that need to be addressed on a daily basis. This means washing my face, exfoliating, moisturizing, using a particular kind of body wash and two different kinds of body lotions. It’s work, but for me it’s the same as doing cardio to keep my heart healthy or taking my pills and watching what I eat to keep my gut issues in check. Skin care has nothing to do with being girly and everything to do with taking care of myself.

Hair and make-up is a different story.

I will be the first person to tell you (and loudly) that after years of searching, I’ve found a hair cut that I love. However, this hair cut does require product. I use a little gel and some sleek and shine serum (every other day), air dry, a little hair spray for hold, and done. It takes all of a few minutes and compared to previous styles which involved the use of a blow dryer, it’s downright nothing.

But it’s not the thrown-back-in-a-ponytail style of high school and my early 20’s. It’s not the wash and go style I had when I first got my hair cut. It’s still work.

And then there’s the make-up. I’ve worn make-up off and on over the years. I’ve done as little as some concealer to cover up the dark circles under my eyes. I’ve done as much as purple eye shadow and purple lipstick with heavy black eyeliner and glitter tears (I went through a freak period). Carrie, with her make-up wisdom, showed me the make-up required for me to pull off a lovely, natural look that can be jazzed up whenever I feel the need. This look involves concealer, a base powder, a finishing powder, blush, mascara, cream eye shadow, and lip gloss/lip stick. To other girls, this doesn’t sound like much. To my friends, this is A LOT of make-up for me.

Yeah, having other people know what I have to do to pass for pretty or cute makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like my friends knowing what I have to do because I know what they’re thinking. They’re thinking how GIRLY it is for me to be doing it and how anything GIRLY is so out of character for me.

And I can’t say that I’ve been unaffected by that. I stopped wearing make-up for a while after a trip with a friend because she commented on my “girly” routine that took me soooo long to do compared to her just brushing her hair and slapping on a little lip gloss (since it was a special occasion and she usually didn’t wear anything at all). She looked cute and with all of the work I’d put into my routine, I ended up less than. After that I couldn’t see the point in trying. Might as well live up to everyone else’s expectations and just be the totally unfeminine tomboy that fits their idea of who I am.

That lasted for a couple of months before I started in with a little make-up again. Now I only do the full routine for certain occasions, but I’ve got a little something going on every day, even if it’s just powder, mascara, and lip gloss.

Because I realized that I have to work to be pretty and there’s no shame in me wanting to be pretty. I imagine that it shakes the views a few people have of me, but that can’t be my problem. I shouldn’t feel bad about being myself.

It’s their hang-up, not mine.

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