RED CARPET READY
By: Lauren Anderson
Full disclosure: My nails are wet as I type this.
I have an event to go to tonight, where I have to dress up a little. And there will be a red carpet, and I will likely be photographed. It will be fun, for sure. And it’s to celebrate a dear friend’s CD that he released for charity…
But like any event where you are expected to turn it out, there is also added pressure.
This kind of thing is stressful enough. But what if you’re not feeling yourself? What if you have to do something like this on a day when you feel bloated and a little nauseous, and you’ve gone too long in between gym visits, and your skin is dry and your hair could use a cut and color, and And AND IS THAT A PIMPLE IN MY ARMPIT?!?!?!
Ahem. Deep breath.
In the long run, I know how I look is not important. It’s not everything. I know that in my core.
But it IS SOMETHING. It is part of it. And for as much as I want to say it doesn’t matter, we are kidding ourselves if we think that looks don’t factor in.
There are countless blobs of data, claiming we are more likely to vote for people we also find attractive. That attraction is the NUMBER ONE reason you will date someone, no matter how “evolved” past it we think we are. And people that are farther from the societal ideal often make less money and suffer more discrimination.
And now my head is in a swirl, and none of this knowledge helps me for tonight.
This one night that is SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.
So, I look down at my nails.
I thought I could let my self-given mani last a one more day, but in the clear light of morning, my fingers look like chipped barnyard siding. No no no! This will not do! I have a reputation to uphold!
So, I’m letting this base coat dry as I talk to you guys about impossible beauty standards. Siiiiiigh.
I love doing my nails. I usually do it quite luxuriously as a way to wind down and relax. Like an adult coloring book attached to my body. But not today!
Today I’m trying to do a few things at once here… get some work done, hold myself accountable, and also trying to maintain a standard of “beauty” that I’m not sure I actually had a part in setting.
Can anyone relate?
And even if you’re the reader that could give two flips about what your nails look like, you know you gotta thing too. Something that you need to do in order to feel your “best self”.
True, no one will really care if I go to fancy dress up event tonight without polish on my nails.
But I will. I will care. And I’m not sure what to do with all that.
I’m not sure how to magically change that VERY ingrained expectation of myself in a flash.
Because that’s the point see? I don’t have time to buck the system today and say “Who gives a Fuh?!” Because whether I like it or not, when celebs do that, it’s often VERY strategic. It’s thought out.
It’s a whole team of people saying, “Okay, if she doesn’t wear a dress to the Oscars, she can wear the men’s suit…but let’s not give her a shirt underneath so she’s still sexy.”
Then the celeb hits the Red Carpet and people are like “OH MY GAWD. What a F*cking LEAP forward for women’s fashion!” When it’s NOT really at all… but I digress.
And they still say nothing about the months of planning or all the special underwear that went into that decision.
*** One sec, time for the second coat of polish.***
Okay. Where was I?
OH YEAH. These celebs have teams and people who dedicate their whole lives to making them look good. But what about mere mortals like me?
Because no matter how much I glam it up, you still cannot deny the fact that I will be driving to this event in a 2001 PT Crusier, that I still make monthly payments on.
(Although my BFF’s 6 year old daughter did tell me I drove a “cool car”… so there’s that.)
My most expensive shoes I own are probably my CrossFit shoes that Coach Jenn GAVE ME. And even if I did spend cash on heels, I don’t particularly like to wear them! I prefer to dance and spend my brain power on lively conversation, instead of finding a place to sit down.
I also always think of a quote from Amy Poehler about heels. “I prefer Converse because I like to make a fast getaway.” No shade if you love them, I own a few pairs myself. But I almost NEVER choose to wear them.
Back to the nails. That’s where I focus, because that’s where I always have.
Let me explain.
When I was young and in middle school, and going through my early rounds of feeling betrayed by my body—I hated that I developed faster than everyone. I looked different and I felt awful.
My mom sat me down and forced me to say things I loved about my body. I remember begrudgingly listing off with tear-soaked cheeks. “I dunno. I guess I like my hair and my eyes, and I dunno… my nails?”
She said in so many words, “Lots of stuff you can’t control about the way you look, but some stuff you can. If you like your hair make sure it’s done the way you feel it looks best every day!”
Later, she took me and my sister to a make up class so I could learn to do really cool eye make-up.
And after that, I always ALWAYS painted my nails.
I think this was her way of saying, “You have control here to put your best foot forward.”
In no time, I was getting LOTS of compliments for having cool make up, and beautiful hair. And when everything else felt off or ugly, these small things helped. And for some reason, especially the nails.
It was a life raft in a sea of uncertainty when it came to my personal attractiveness. And it has been with me my entire life.
Years ago, before I began this journey, when I was the most lost and farthest from body love that I had ever been—my nails were POPPIN. I spent a lot of money and time and energy there.
The nail art would take hours. I would refuse to leave the house without it looking PERFECT.
It was often the only thing about my appearance that I would get complimented on. I think I thought, “If I can’t feel beautiful, at least my nails will be INCREDIBLE.” And that somehow buoyed me through.
Now, unsurprisingly to no one, I don’t have the same need for unstoppable nails. Because I started to fall in love– maybe for the first time– with the rest of me.
But let’s not get a head of ourselves. I STILL KEEP MY NAILS DONE. Because it’s still important.
*** Speaking of, time for the Top Coat!***
And we’re back. What was I saying? Oh yeah. Nails will always be my personal tether to feeling more attractive. And that feeling as much as it pains me to admit it, IS IMPORTANT.
I think it’s important to feel attractive. And whatever that means to you. Not to society. But we don’t live in a vacuum, so there’s always the outside world to consider. Even if you are among the lucky few that claim they “don’t care what people think.”
I don’t talk about it a lot because it’s weird ya know? It’s like this thing I feel gross about. That I think we all may resent to some level, but we also all secretly hope that we are?
It’s like an old 80’s high school movie where all the popular kids look like 30 year olds, and act like total assholes, but you still want them to like you? That’s how I feel about wanting to feel attractive.
Only to be intensified on the “red carpet” when I have a low budget, and no team of experts at my disposal.
So I’m painting my nails when I could be doing a jillion other things that might benefit me more in the long run. But I need that hit right now, man. I’m jones-in for that boost I get when I feel more attractive.
On a side note, the nail polish I chose is a beautiful pink that is named funnily enough,
“Happy and Healthy”.
I don’t know if I have a like, a “moral” to this post, or even an official point I’m trying to make.
All I know is, for as “above it all” and “next-level” as I want to be about this kind of stuff, days like today always leave me feeling a little “Two steps forward, one step back.”
Like I’ve made all this progress, and then BAM. Reality still has me sweating the small stuff.
At least now I know that no matter how much progress I’ve made, or body love I acquire, when I am forced with the prospect of a red carpet, I will probably reach for my bottle of polish first– EVERY TIME.
And maybe that’s okay. Maybe my mom was on to something in the 7th grade. Some days I have the energy and the confidence to fight the system and offer a new point of view. And some days I just want to feel good, and look okay in a freakin photo ya know?
And both of those things can exist in one person trying her best to do her best.
I’m only human after all… with pretty great nails… and pretty “cool car” for a 6 year old.