My introduction to Crest Whitestrips was brutal. My gums burned. I was slurping and slucking all over the place. Talking was impossible… need I go on? It was intolerable. But then something strange happened. After two weeks of twice a day misery, the process became manageable – even routine. You know, I can’t help wondering what other intolerables I’ve allowed into my life… but maybe that’s a dangerous question. With nothing to overcome, how would we ever move forward?
So I went through…
7.2 minutes later: There I am, inching along a narrow mud-slicked ledge, fenced suburbia to my right, a perilous 20′ icy-cliff drop on my left – with only a paved off-ramp to catch me! One slip and I’m rush-hour roadkill. Clinging to the sparest of twigs, I creep forward, only one thought in my mind…
“This is so cool!”
There’s something ridiculously wonderful about getting lost in your own city, especially on your most familiar route. When was the last time you allowed yourself to explore? It’s spring isn’t it? What better time to dive sneaker-first down a rabbit hole?
Every makeover needs a catalyst, some tiny drop of something to get the whole process going. See that rather clinical looking tube far left? Held up by that rather glossy looking Wesley Crusher? I needed something from outside my comfort zone to get my experiment started. But how, you ask, does this gloss differ from the other three juicy specimens that ‘have gone before’? This time I’m going for more opacity, more commitment, more sparkle – each a new risk.
Why the fear? We all have that one feature that made middle-school hell, be it weight, bad glasses, acne, etc. Let me set the scene: late Grade 8, my best ‘friend’ calls to tell me a certain boy won’t consider dating me because “that girl’s teeth are too big.” I know, I know, I barely survived. We’re talking deep trauma here…sigh. Anyways, I’ve never been much for calling attention to the area with lipstick. But things have changed since then; I’ve changed. I went through braces and my face has grown. But the biggest switch – in a frightening-but-fairytale-true Oprah twist – has been the discovery that ‘big teeth make a bigger smile’. They’ve turned out to be one of my best features, if I do say so myself – and who’s going to stop me! That’s what’s so exciting about beauty’s current celebration of individuality; we don’t have to let anyone stop us, especially not grade 8 punks who’ve forgotten their Brothers Grimm… “all the better to eat you with my dear.”
There is something sweetly surreal about the latest glosses. We’re promised a sheen so fantastic, so radiant, we risk blinding those unlucky enough to catch us at wrong angles to the sun. And yes, for that briefest moment – after application and before you realize you’d prefer not looking like parts of your face are melting off when you try to talk – the mirrored look is a delicious reality. But there’s another problem. It’s not rocket science; the principles of chemistry and physics will never allow for a true non-stick lipgloss. Any viscous goo, no matter how technologically advanced, will inevitably snare hair. This is basic science, yet still we yearn for the fantasy. So, dear readers, is it worth it? Let’s find out…
When was the last time you had one of these mornings? You know, the kind where someone else sets the alarm for 5:30am when this is the one morning you don’t have to be up till 7:00am – the kind where that someone sleeps through 6 snooze alarms, then somehow expects to be cajoled gently into wakefulness by a sweetly saccharine wife.
Yes, t’was the kind of morning where you take the bus – rather than walking – to work because you know it would be cruel and inhumane to force anyone to spend 45 minutes trapped alone with such unabashed hostility, let alone your own self! T’was the kind where you make yourself even later by waiting in the lobby for the coast to clear, so you don’t have to share an elevator and risk an awful reaction to some poor hapless coworker’s “Good Morning.”
I thought I was doing quite a good job handling the situation in a mature and dignified manner. We all get into Grumps sometimes – no need to spread the toxicity. On the crowded bus, I kept my Klingon Death Stare fixed on a piece of black lint stuck to the fellow in front of me’s jacket, rather than on the twerp beside me – one of those lovely souls bereft of any concept of personal space. I didn’t avert my eyes from the (exactly 3.4mm diameter) fluff even when the bus lurched round a corner and I (lacking any extra footspace) had the uniquely excruciating experience of feeling my wrist bruising in real-time as one square inch of skin was crushed between my full weight and a metal pole.
I covered the few short blocks between the bus stop and my office with my brim pulled low down over my eyes. It was a public service, really, preventing my Medusa glare from laying waste to any number of unsuspecting commuters on the streets of downtown Calgary. But, on the last street corner, my conscientiousness backfired.
Out of nowhere, a trio of thin blue ribbons caught me around the neck. I was doing so well too, but when something tries to strangle you on the way to work (with or without warning!), some fine line of universal decency is crossed. I broke – my stride, my composure, at least one of the ribbons…
There I was, at 8am on a busy Calgary street corner, thrashing madly at three innocent helium balloons tethered to a “don’t you wish you lived here” folding sign. “AAAAAAARGH!” I let it all out. It was a brief, all too public, display of what it really means to be human. That, or just some crazy chick going psycho on modern marketing. I’m not proud of my little spectacle, and I can assure you there isn’t the least bit of satisfaction in railing on anything that’s essentially lighter than air, but I don’t regret it. Better three balloons than one alarm clock setter’s nose~wink.
Scene: 6:50am, Calgary, in an apartment still reeking of hubby’s late night snack…
“Ok, so new rule.” I laid down the law. “Whoever cooks spicy Italian sausages on the George Forman [Grill] has to clean it right away.”
A snarky voice answered from the bedroom. “You’re not allowed to just go around arbitrarily making up rules.”
Then I, in one of those blithe philosophical musings visited upon those who find themselves half-in-and-half-out of winter jackets well before dawn, replied, “How does one make any rule, if not arbitrarily!”
“No, no,” my dear husband corrected me, coming round the corner, socks in hand and wearing a mischievous grin. “Only I’m allowed to make up rules arbitrarily.”
We live in a blank canvas world. Social conventions, notions of class, and even the dictates of fashion are becoming increasingly flexible. Such freedom can leave one floundering when it comes to communicating (or even defining) one’s identity. Who are we without structure? What happens when a society disconnects from its own history and traditions?
We are becoming a surface people, all sound bites and profile pics, status updates and 140 character tweets. I’ve rebelled against this new framework from the start (although, I suppose you did just catch me blogging~wink). I’ve tried my best to dive down under the surface chaos – a life lived in ripples is a raw deal if you ask me – and explore the cool, still world under the waves. But, as you can see from the pic above, it’s bloody well time to come up for some air!
There is a boon to all this surface talk. For the first in history, we have the unique opportunity to have our projections believed. If the world is so intent on taking us at face value, why not play the game? But on our terms. I’m not talking about plastic surgery and piles of makeup, but more about establishing a personal style that projects our strengths and ambitions. It’s about Focus.
I invite you to join me in a 2010 personal style makeover. To tell you the truth, I’m actually quite nervous about this project. Will I have have the guts to follow it through? What about maintenance? Can I do it inexpensively? And, of course, the question all women ask themselves before embarking such journeys… Will it really make a difference?
Let’s find out!
As a culture, we’re ‘cusping’… can you feel it? We’re the Romans, gorging ourselves senseless, ceding to every gluttonous urge and craving, filling… filling… filling only to purge so we can do it all over again. And, like our predecessors, we are insatiable, a society addicted to its distractions (case in point: Farmville). But we’re losing – our leadership, our structure, our hope.
A new year. A new hope? A new office tower went up two doors down from my workplace this year – an entire building, 18 stories, thousands of tons of metal, concrete, and carpeting. I feel its weight, its presence, as I scurry by on the sidewalk. What do I have to show for 2009? Anything so monumental? Anything so tangible?
Yes. I’ve spent much of this past decade filling out an intellectual framework – the product of a slow and ponderous personal evolution (come on… you remember your twenties!). I hadn’t realized how much structural work must be done before closing off one’s construction to the elements. Well, my foundation is set. My architecture is commited. What comes next? Why… the cosmetics of course! ~Stay tuned