Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
The Power of a Pedicure
The beauty industry knows something that I’ve only recently come to appreciate: There is power in a pedicure.
Everyone has a friend who, in the midst of chaos is happening around them, will indulge in something frivolous. You know the type: When there’s an earthquake and the electricity is out and pandemonium in the streets, they will go and get their hair done. Or, maybe it’s the BFF with limited resources who has several small children to feed who blows her entire food budget for the month treating herself to a sushi dinner. Or, if there’s no chaos around them, there’s always the girlfriend who will simply HAVE to get her nails done, even though she just got them done a week prior.
Why? For no reason other than it makes her happy.
I used to scoff at such behavior, believing myself to be a practical, reasonable human being. Now, however, I see there is a method to the madness. There’s something hopeful about continuing on in the face of potential uncertainty and adversity, as if nothing adverse is going on. Grasping and clinging to what feels good and comfortable distracts from the underlying knowledge that perhaps things are not so great, not so secure.
Grounding in Ritual
Being a low-maintenance girl, my beauty ritual gets less and less consistent as the years go by. These days I’m more inclined to choose comfort over creating a wow factor, opting for ballet flats over sky-high heels.
Recently I attended a focus group on a popular skin care product, knowing I have no real issues with my skin other than the inevitable loosening of the facial muscles. The women participating in the group were of “a certain age”. They were discouraged and skeptical. They had been trying, unsuccessfully in most cases, to slow the aging process with creams, masks and rejuvenation products. Few, if any, saw tangible results.
And yet they are part of the demographic that keep trying, keep buying, spending thousands of dollars on products that basically do the same job as an egg white, apple cider vinegar, a rare steak and a dollop of extra virgin olive oil. When asked why, most conceded that it temporarily made them feel as if they were still trying, making an effort to erase the wear and tear of time. The women who had money felt it was a good emotional and physical investment. The women on a budget felt the treatments were a treat. In either camp, the consensus was that keeping themselves together made them feel good, raising their self-esteem.
Looking around the room, I could also see that at least half had their nails done professionally. Another investment, another treatment. Having spent the majority my childhood at the hairdresser all day on Saturdays, the idea of spending more time in a nail salon never appealed to me. I do my own nails and it shows.
Beauty is (sometimes) in Eyes of the Beholden
What most intrigued me was that, of all the women in the room, only a couple would qualify by Hollywood standards as remotely pretty. The rest appeared attractive at best, plain at worst. Perhaps in their youth they turned heads, but in middle age, the inner beauty didn’t radiate any more than their outer appearance. A few of the women expressed in depressed, angry terms that they felt invisible. They only felt validated by society or a significant other. If men don’t notice them they don’t feel they have any self-worth. A single participant, not the most attractive but possibly one of the more polished, stylish women in the room, positively embraced her age and appearance, saying it was natural to age. Might as well embrace what comes with it. She was just happy to be alive. And then she asked, why would you want to turn heads? Aren’t you married?
Loving What Is
At the end of the session, I had a strong urge to change my nail polish, dye my grey hair and buy some new clothes. I went home and realized that I only one colored nail polish (the other is clear), all of my clothes are worn out, out dated are don’t fit and I am running low on hair color. I began to panic a bit…could this be why I’m not engaged, married or otherwise in a relationship? Is a makeover in my future?
Perhaps. Hopefully, however, I’ve grown into the woman who has learned that no matter how many products I use, no matter what I’m wearing, the fact that I’m alive and breathing spiritually on the planet is the best and most beautiful gift of all. Because the better I feel about myself on the inside, the more beautiful my light will shine to the world.
May you walk in beauty.