Today was the first time I left home without another set of eyes to confirm I didn’t have any food on my face. Power-walked to class (I was barely on time) and didn’t get any weird looks, though during a break I did notice that the top three buttons of my shirt had somehow managed to burst open. Awkwardly re-buttoned while standing in line at Starbucks, trying not to notice the interested glances my fellow students were shooting over their laptops.
I was thinking today about looks and privilege and all the things that would prevent some women from embarking on this sort of project: working in a corporate culture that equates professionalism with a full face of makeup; working in retail and waitressing jobs that expect mascara and bouncing curls; having “unruly” natural hair that attracts more controversy than might seem worth it. Our looks aren’t just about personal vanity, and I’m lucky to be able to move through the world with a “natural” look that is still deemed fairly acceptable (thin, white, straight-haired). Still, even my mirrorless “natural” is more contrived than, say, my boyfriend’s: I spent ten minutes blow drying my hair this morning (facing the back of the bathroom, of course), while he showered, air dried, and walked out the door without a second glance. At least I didn’t have to wrestle with a tie.
I’m still feeling fairly laid back about this whole project, though this afternoon I felt the first twinge of wistfulness: I suspect it was a “pretty” day.