Monday, November 14, 2011

Faking It

One of the striking things about women is that most of us are faking it.  I'm not sure if this is more true or less true in blog-land - what do you think?

This morning I got up and brushed my dyed hair.  I applied lip gloss and maybe some blusher to create the illusion that I spend time outside and have a color other than that of a corpse because being white is okay but being too white is not.  I put on a bra to elevate my genuine but unfortunately droopy bust.  I put on 3 inch heels under my slacks to create a taller/leaner silhouette and to make my butt rounder.  I chose a blazer with slightly padded shoulders to create a balance to the width of my bottom half, and also because a blazer skims over my tummy chub.  Then I made sure to take my medication so I would be even-tempered enough to engage in the business matters of the day.  This evening, I posed in a manner that makes my legs look longer and hopefully butt look smaller.  While showing off my orthodontically corrected and occasionally Crest-White-Strips-bleached grin because smiling makes me face look younger, I made sure to turn my head slightly to the left to avoid showing my missing back bicuspid.  I lifted my chin so my face/jawline would look thinner, and "smiled with my eyes" to appear genuine and engaged.

I'm only annoyed that my work day ran late because the light sucked and I wasn't able to get a good picture of all that effort.  (Really. Must. Charge the damn camera and stop taking iphone pics.)

Wow.  That's a lot of self-modification - a lot of fakery - for a natural girl.  I'm a "natural girl" in that I am biologically female, have no implants (breast or otherwise), and have had no surgeries or medical procedures that affect my appearance.  But every day I spend a lot of time masking my "deficiencies", whether they are real, self-perceived, or socially assigned.  Each morning is a process of manufacturing the freeda I want to present to the world.

Every week I put a quote on my white board at week.  This week's is "Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them.  But do not let them master you."  Helen Keller said that.  Or signed it, or wrote it, I'm not sure.  Are my "deficiencies" mastering me?  Is this taking away from the quality of my life or improving it?  Can you imagine what I could do if I devoted that amount of time to something productive?

Know what I figured out?  That this actually IS something productive.  My appearance is what is socially correct for my age, career, income level, race, and gender.  And NO (wo)man is an island.  We are a social species and dependent on others for validation and a sense of identity and the "appropriateness" and social acceptability of that identity.  I receive positive feedback for all the effort I put into all this.   Would I do these things if I were not blogging?  Probably.   It impacts my the way people interact with me, therefore my job, therefore my income, therefore my lifestyle.


  1. Smart post on a serious subject. And I like the conclusion you reach. These enhancements certainly affect how others perceive and treat you, so you may as well maximize your appearance.

    One other point: these grooming efforts are socially acceptable for you as a woman, so your resort to them isn't viewed negatively. That stands in stark contrast to the harsh reaction people give to all male efforts to improve appearance. Comb-overs, platform-shoes, dye-jobs are usually seen as pathetic and even unmanly. Women have the freedom to enhance their appearance which men do not.

    I guess my point in citing this is that your grooming is considered normal. Nothing you mention is considered odd.

    That's a cute blazer, btw.

  2. Shybiker, I love that blazer - it's a frequent flyer for me! Dressbarn is my boo.

    I agree and disagree with your assessment of men not having the freedom to enhance their appearance. It certainly is true in some areas. Things you mentioned as ripe for ridicule are those that would generally be characterized as "masculine", and boy howdy is it socially risky to be obviously attempting to mask anything that may indicate a loss of manly virility.

    I think that men definitely have a narrower window of what is socially acceptable. The ways in which a man can "acceptably" enhance his appearance are to 1) become more fit or mask his unfitness cleverly, 2) choose colors, patterns, and cuts that are flattering to his shape and coloring, 3) make sure that fit and proportion are impeccable, 4) accessorize within the constraints of male fashion, and 5) take good care of his skin and teeth.

    I work in an urban area, and notice that black men are far more fashion conscious than white men - more likely to ensure the hem of their dress pants hits at exactly the welt of their shined shoes. More likely to wear designer eyeglasses frames, fancy cuff links, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. Even my $8.75/hr black male staff are very precise about which shoes go with which oversized hoody - not my aesthetic for sure, but one that they are executing with a lot of care and thought. My wealthier acquaintances indulge in high quality fabrics and precise cuts that disguise their bellies and make their shoulders look broader.

    Overall, I'd say that most guys could do a LOT of improving their look without exceeding the range of "socially acceptable for men". That said, there is definitely a point at which people start looking at them a little funny. (Kilts, anyone?)

    *edited for spelling

  3. Hear, hear! I love your conclusion.

  4. I love this! I don't know if we do it more or less in blogland, but I know it's something I do all the time!

  5. @ Ally-The other side of the coin is that if women DON'T do all this stuff, it often costs us professional and social opportunities. I wouldn't dream of going to work without a full face of makeup and relatively unchipped nail polish. Because to eschew these things is to take a risk that I appear "unprofessional". I fully admit, I'm as guilty at thinking/talking smack about other professional women appearing not well-put-together.


Thanks for visiting!