A Former Mess's Guide to Looking Like a Grown Up: Part One
In my 20's I used to stand in front of the mirror for hours, gazing at my face, applying makeup, perfecting my hair, studying my brows with mad-scientist intensity. I was a beauty editor at Lucky Magazine back then and being cute was all part of the job. I wore Manolo Blahniks and skirts to the office, got weekly manicures and fussed with my hair in the bathroom during lunch breaks. At night I would slather on face masks, cover my hair in goop, refresh my top coat, stare at my body in the mirror and wish I was thinner.
Looking back now, I don't recognize myself in my 20s. I don't get her, and I am exhausted by her. And I also know where all this obsession with my appearance ended up leading to—a very dark place. Why did I care so much? What was it all for? Why was my appearance the only thing that mattered? So much has happened to me between then and now I don't feel that much of a kinship with myself back then. I was pretty, why couldn't I just relax and enjoy myself? Why was I so fucking fragile and crazy?
After some mental and physical setbacks in my 30s, I dropped everything to focus on my health. Everything. I looked terrible for a while, a long while. I'd run into people I knew on the street and some would gawp and look me up and down, some would smirk, some would pretend not to know me and rush away. It was surreal and not entirely unwarranted. I was fat, splotchy, dazed and unrecognizable from the ultra-glossy person I once was.
Now, I'm (somewhat) back to my old self, physically and mentally, but the one thing I can't get back up to speed is my old grooming and self-care habits. I want to look polished and put together for work but also something about having to do it pisses me off endlessly. It makes me furious! I think I worry that I'm going to get obsessive in the way I was back in my 20s. Lost in the mirror again. Permanently unsatisfied by what I see. Critical. Crazy.
But my birthday just happened and with it came a desire to Look More Grown Up. Not just slapped together with a comb and some paper clips on the subway. Because I am learning that things that look okay in the mirror at 8am have a way of crumbling into a sloppy mess by noon. And much as I say I wish that the world wasn't so superficial, I'm actually a total hypocrite. I totally judge people on how they present themselves. All the time. During a meeting with another low-key, permanently unkempt woman at work she said to me, "I just don't have time. Some people spend all this time, doing themselves but I don't. I just don't care what I look like." That had been my attitude for a few years now and when I'd say it in my head it made me feel cool, and safe from opinions. Hearing it from someone else's mouth, it just sounded like a weak excuse. It sounded like giving up on life.
I know that Rome wasn't built in a day. This will take time. But I have definitely not given up on life, so I'm starting a new regime tomorrow.
My current muse for this initial phase of transformation is Cindy Mancini from Can't Buy Me Love (see slideshow). Amanda Peterson was the best, RIP. I like her right now because she's natural but definitely not messy. She always looks pulled togther and cute, but she's not ripped from the pages of Vogue. She's got an earring, a coordinated outfit and some lipgloss. She's cute as hell!
This is level one. I'm not aspiring to Audrey Hepburn. I bought a Babyliss Spinning Hot brush and I am going to use it tomorrow, hopefully to great success. We'll see. I tried it and it spins really fast.
But I have a goal.