Thursday Miscellanea: Anniversaries, Pinched Nerves, Exploding Ear Vessels, and The Tyranny of “Effortless Beauty”
Yesterday was me and Mr. Typist’s 9th wedding anniversary. Wednesday in the middle of a stressful week full of long days and sweaty, crawling commutes over the 520 bridge is a crummy time to have a wedding anniversary, so we’re postponing it until Saturday. We just ate take-out in front of the hockey game instead of embarking on a big, long, complicated dinner neither of us was up to. But still, it is nine years yesterday. It’s not like we didn’t notice. Mr. Typist wore a red shirt, and yesterday morning, I felt a little extra-buoyant when I brought him his morning coffee. I felt sort of Singin’ in the Rain-ishly romantic and floaty. It was our anniversary. This means we have put up with each other for that many years! And I honestly don’t mean that in a cynical way. I am not cynical about marriage. As much as I complain about marriage as an outdated institution, and a method of social control and economic engineering, I also believe that it’s pretty much what we’re stuck with culturally as a means of proving love and commitment to the one we are romantically involved with. I think that people should just get hitched if they love each other and want to be together for a really long time. I’m a big fan of the piece-of-paper aspect, the signature line, the stamp, the former filing in a civil court. It’s like getting a tattoo—it symbolizes permanence, the ability to express a point of a view, a willingness to put a little elbow-grease in on behalf of the one you love.
I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder and it really hurts to be at the computer right now. I have contorted my arm into all sorts of poses to relieve it, but it remains stubbornly present. When I was a massage therapist, I would have gotten this treated holistically with acupuncture and massage, as it was a snap to trade services with my colleagues. Now I don’t have those connections, but I somehow feel like I am still good enough, knowledgeable enough, to self-treat it. But my self-treatments are not working, and that hurts my pride. On top of it, my ear has been bleeding enough to soak an entire Q-Tip head about three mornings out of each week for the last week or two. I casually mentioned this to my supervisor today (just by way of making conversation), and she wanted me to see a doctor right away in case it was a “severe head injury”. Which I think I would have remembered getting, but you never know. It turns out that I have a burst blood vessel my ear. The doctor didn’t know why. I filled out eight reams of paperwork and waited two hours past my actual appointment time, and all I got was a six-minute exam and a shrug. This is why I don’t go to doctors unless I am actually dying and happen to care at the moment that I exist for a while longer.
Fuck the Tyranny of “Effortless Beauty”!
Today on my favorite podcast, there was a discussion about “natural beauty”. Host Luke Burbank asked co-host/producer Jen Andrews why all of these skinny, hot celebrities are always pretending that they eat cheesesteak, spaghetti, and bacon cheeseburgers six days a week, and never even think about their appearance, when it’s patently obvious they spend five hours a day in the gym, three at their stylists, and never even see so much as a potato chip. I really resonated with this conversation, as I recently had headshots done, and I spent the entire day laboring at looking “natural”. I paid a lady fifty bucks to do my makeup at Habitude. It took an hour of elaborate mixing, plastering, and artistic application of at least nine different cosmetics to bring out my “natural face”. That doesn’t even take into account the elaborate hair products needed to get that bouncy, flowing, natural look to my hair, and the almost 250 shots the photographer took for a final, re-touched photo that makes me look totally, “like me", instead of a chubby, angry, tired 41-year old wearing the wrong sweater.
Jen was right in her response to Luke. As women, we are expected to have effortlessly skinny hips and butts, large, luscious, natural breasts, and no hair anywhere on our bodies, except of course, long, thick, naturally flowing hair on our heads. We should be able to guzzle beer and eat burgers and steaks at the same rate as men, yet never gain an ounce or dare to be vain enough to actually put any effort whatsoever into our appearance. It’s not the pressure of being beautiful that kills us, it’s the expectation that it all be “effortless”. It’s the idea that we if actually think consciously about being attractive to men and take action towards that aim, we are vain, but if we don’t put effort into our appearance, we’re dried-up bats who don’t care enough the feelings of to put effort into our appearance. It’s one of those games we will never, ever win as long as we live. I think Jen (and Luke) were right to agree that what we all need in this world is just a little more honesty. So here it is:
My headshot erased my under-eye wrinkles, and I had about eight layers of very “natural-looking” foundation on, as well as about ten minutes worth of mascara application. I specifically requested a very natural-looking make-up job. It depresses me that it took almost 45 minutes to create that look. Voila! Me!! Effortlessly gorgeous, indeed. But I must say, I do appreciate the effect of all of that artifice. And I will attest that the lighting was completely un-faked; we did the shots outdoors on an overcast day. Does that make me vain? Is vanity really just deep insecurity? Am I far too worried about my softening chin?
I am at a weird stage in my life where I feel like all of this concern about how I look is actually humiliating. I'm in that between-stage where I either need to go gangbusters on the Stairmasters and South Beach Diet, or give up entirely and just let each of my round, chubby parts emerge in all of their waddling glory. Since I'm probably more lazy than vain, it will most likely be the latter.