September 27, 2016

Vanity Isn't Just Another Piece of Furniture

I went to high school in the 80s. Permed hair, lots of make-up, and going to school in a well-chosen (i.e., trendy) outfit was a given. I got up at 5:00 am to shower, blow/kink/style my hair, put on my face, and eat breakfast before I caught the school bus at 6:30. I brought my precious bottle of Indian Earth with me to school and religiously reapplied it throughout the day. Now that’s what I call commitment.

Twenty-odd years later—not so much.

Of course, if I sleep until 5:00 am, I’m eternally grateful these days. So, there’s that. And I usually shower at night, so there is no unnecessary hair styling in the morning. I stopped perming and gave in to my stick-straight locks long ago. Since I work mostly from home, as long as I’m clean, dressed, and partially groomed—using 80s excess as my yardstick—I’m good to go.

However, a funny thing happens when you get older. You care more, and less, about how you look.

I used to dye my hair—for fun. Now I dye it to hide the gray. I never over-plucked my eyebrows, never “shaped” them, or thinned them to excess (thank God), but now I’m reaching for eyebrow gel. My eyebrows have thinned and lightened over the years, and I prefer the way they used to look, so I’ve added it to my leaving-the-house look. And lipstick. In all these years, I’ve never left the house without lipstick.  

I became enamored with lipstick when I used to watch my grandmother put it on. Every day, she would reach for a gold cylinder and carefully apply a peachy, pink hue—the tip of it perfectly shaped to her mouth. My mother never wore lipstick. But like wine and a good stiff cocktail, lipstick was just another one of life’s little luxuries I would someday covet thanks to my grandmother.  

In my 20s, I was still rocking the trends to some extent—I found “my look”, my signature scent, and had an unusual affinity for anything red. And what can you really say about a 20-something face. You’d kill for it today.

By the time I was in my late 30s, I felt free enough to leave behind the fully made-up face. My skin was still youthful enough, but it could now breathe. And the hair. Again, in its now deflated state, a quick blow-out was all I needed.

Enter my early 40s. Grooming rituals had become a thing of the past. Stretchy pants and comfortable shoes were all I wanted. Well, that and comfy PJs, too. It just wasn’t a good time for me, so it reflected in my face, literally. I didn’t care. And it showed.

When I reached my mid-40s, things started to shift. I got healthy. I bought clothes again. At good stores. I found a talented stylist and got my hair done. I started dressing more youthfully, but tastefully. I even broke out a few classics from my 20s that fit once again. I was back.

Today, I care less about how I look and more about how I feel. Because, let’s face it, if you feel good, you look good. I don’t give a fig about fashion trends, and I feel more comfortable in my body, even when I complain about it. I’ve earned every wrinkle and gray hair. Only now, I put in more effort to look like the best version of me I can pull together.

P.S. A partial selfie—I went with blonde streaks this past summer. You may also like HormonesLife in My 40s, and Are You a Late Bloomer.

4 comments:

Traci said...

I understand this post perfectly! I've gone through life complaining about one thing or another concerning my looks. Never wanted my picture taken. Only to realize that I WISH I had stopped complaining. We change. And changes can be good!

My grandmother also liked her drinks. A nice single-malt scotch.

Cheers!
Traci

Anonymous said...

I like these new posts.....funny and enjoyable.

Kimberly Merritt said...

Thank you, ladies. I, too, hate to have my picture taken. I need to get over it! Cheers to both of you!

Wendy E Wrzos said...

Kim, first of all, I love your hair! Second, I agreed with it all, and you explained it so well. I care more about some things, and far less about others; I accept my wrinkles and signs of age on my face, have made peace with some of my gray hair (and dye the rest) but there are some things I won't compromise on before I leave the house too - lipstick and a light foundation are a must every day - and, I have started wearing a dab of perfume before I go to bed, just for me - because it makes me feel happy :-)

Thanks for a wonderful post!