I would wager that I fall somewhere in the middle of the vanity continuum. Many friends my age have succumbed to pressure to get Botoxed, nipped and tucked, peeled, and to spend lots of cash on anti-aging products. It isn’t that I don’t care about my appearance. It’s that I don’t care that much.
I became vigilant about using sunscreen or avoiding the sun in my early forties. I used to put a little makeup on every day. Then it became not worth the trouble. Now I save it for special occasions. I dye my gray hair regularly. I stopped once and my kids yelled at me because they told me I looked old.
It’s when I am sitting impatiently at the hair or nail salon that I question the necessity of it all. It’s a struggle to paint my own toenails because my left foot is paralyzed, and the rest of my body isn’t very cooperative so I sit in the ubiquitous Asian nail salons with their loud owners speaking in broken English and the unusual decor. I don’t bother with my fingernails because my left hand is too unruly. I get antsy in the beauty salons because there is such a requirement to sit still. I sit there and question why I do it. I will admit, I am motivated to not show my gray hair yet. I like the way my toenails look when they are colored for the summer. I never paint them in the winter.
When I was young, my Dad was a model maker who made point of purchase displays for department and convenience stores. He often did work for cosmetic companies such as Estee Lauder. He would bring home the products for which he was making the displays. My sister, my Mom and I loved getting free cosmetics.
Dad used to ask us what we thought these companies were selling. He would correct us every time; they weren’t selling creams and makeup. They were selling hope.