I get really nervous in womanly places. Not the woman aisle in the store, or among a group of women I know. Instead, I get nervous heading into salons. I feel uneasy in places that require femininity. Oh, I know femininity has nothing to do with clothes and hair and we’re all very much evolved to the point where we can all just be who we are and not worry about the social pressures of womanhood.
Maybe I’m just insecure, but I’ve never felt firmly in one camp or the other. My entire adolescence can be summed up by the phrase “does not fit in”. And not the “does not fit in” in the stereotypical teen comedy/drama on Fox, but “does not fit in” because I was always in the in-between. I wasn’t a tomboy, but I never wore makeup. I wasn’t a punk rock girl, but I did wear band t-shirts. I wasn’t outgoing, but I wasn’t shy when people talked to me. I wasn’t incredibly smart, but I loved reading.
This continued in college, at my liberal Christian college, where I wasn’t incredible vocal about my faith (but it was the most important thing in the world to me).
As I’ve gotten older, and perhaps (fingers crossed) grown up a little bit, I’ve started to embrace a form of femininity. Or a portion of it. Or somebody’s portion of it, anyway. I am grateful to be a woman, that I will (fingers crossed) one day have children, that I have met women who make me happy to be a woman. As I grew out of my comfortable little shell, I found that I liked wearing big earrings, having a cute haircut, and wearing dresses. I still feel uncomfortable wearing makeup. I still much prefer jeans and Vans.
What is femininity? Every woman is different. Everyone’s experiences are different. My conscience tells me that I am there, that I am okay as-is. Every day my conscience tells me this.
Then I’m forced into a little cave of a world where beauty is of the utmost importance. I look at my un-dyed hair (my gray hair!) and feel inadequate. I look at my picked-at nails and feel gross. I feel naked without makeup. I feel…I feel…I feel.
Today I went to a new stylist. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that she owned a cute shop, a beautifully decorated shop. I planned my outfit. I looked at my face. I decided to hide my nails. I wondered if I should pluck my eyebrows a bit. But, the wonderful thing was that I felt entirely comfortable. I did not feel the need to apologize for anything. She never asked me why I don’t want to dye my hair. She didn’t ask how long it had been since I was in a salon. Instead, she smiled, listened, and did what I asked her to do.