“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” -Leo Tolstoy
After a busy week of moving, unpacking boxes, figuring my way around the city, and sending out my resume, I must confess I hadn’t spent much time thinking about what to write about for this week’s post. As the hands of the clock methodically tick-tocked minute by minute, taunting me with their rhythmic urge that my time was running out, I decided a nice warm shower would assist in getting the juices of my old noggin flowing. My theory was that the water would help me in discovering a topic with the same gusto a Texas baron encounters when striking black gold. And boy was that a smart move.
Allowing the boiling hot water (the only acceptable way to shower) to cascade down to my feet, I wiped away the grime of a challenging day spent gallivanting around, hitting up a pizzeria– mushroom and black olive if you’d please- and a record shop for some classic Guy Lombardo, I proceeded to commence with my routine toilette regime. In the midst of the clockwise scrubbing in of my Merlot facial cleanser, in sync with the villainous clock that reminds me my time was nearly expired, an idea struck me.
What is the price of beauty? I pondered, reflectively for a few moments, steam filling my confined bathroom until it resembled a sauna. Harking back to my morning shower (yes, I take as many showers a day as most people check their Facebook feed) I began to recollect each individual action I perform on a daily basis as a part of my beauty routine. Aside from the obvious financial cost of having well maintained personal hygiene, I couldn’t help but focus on the time spent doing such things and the distance the elements travel to wind up a part of my daily application.
It should be noted that my morning shower is the equivalent to others morning cup of coffee. In other words, don’t dare speak to me until I’ve showered. I turn the tap mere moments after I awake and jump in right away. Whilst showering, I lather in a soap made from the mud of the Dead Sea and shampoo and condition my hair with products infused with oils and unguents extracted from plants deep within the tropical rain forest. After the shower, it’s straight to the vanity to blow dry my hair with a round brush and a volumizing mousse designed to lift at the roots for all day flare. This, of course is finished off by a spritz of hairspray to lock my precious look in place tighter than a corset on a 19th Century Lady- yet another price of beauty in itself. Finally, I deodorize, brush my teeth with a compound of elements pressed into a paste, and a spray of cologne enhanced to smell like a mahogany forest and its to the closet.
Once there, I spend a considerable amount of time selecting an aesthetically-pleasing outfit, ensuring its pressed and creased. Then it’s back to the vanity to accessorize with jewelry, belts, hats, shoes, scarves, bags, etc. At this point it’s time to hide those marks of age, stress, and lack of sleep known as under eye bags with a dab of concealer and an hour after I awake, I’m finally ready to begin the day.
Night brings with it a routine of its own. Another shower is followed by the application of cashmere scented body lotion to ensure touchable soft skin, the plucking of any stray hairs that attempt to bridge the gap between my eyebrows, and the weekly reapplication of my cherry red toenail polish that’s perfect for the fun months of summer. Afterward, it’s time to tend to the brushing, flossing, and band rearrangement of the braces that have a 3-5 year lease within my mouth. Much like the corset, braces are their own special form of questionable beauty regimes.
It wasn’t until tonight in the shower that I meticulously scrutinized everything many of us do on a regular basis to be beautiful. Yes, some of this things like brushing your teeth and wearing deodorant are just common practices of acceptable public hygiene, but are all of our lotions and oils and creams and scrubs and hydrating face masks really worth it? To say nothing of the chemicals many of us pour into our hair every six weeks to achieve that perfect shade of blonde or brunette or auburn. And never mind the even longer process of applying and touching up a full face of makeup each day. Our modern sense of beauty has long been defined from a commercial factor encouraging us to buy, buy, buy. Telling us from the time we are young that to be beautiful, it is absolutely necessary to endure intense daily processes such as those listed above. Sure these products smell nice, assist in creating a more polished presentation of ourselves, but is that person truly who we really are? I’ll admit I don’t intend to stop attempting to make this mug of mine as “pretty” as possible, but tonight’s shower really did put into perspective the extreme lengths we go to in order to achieve that so-accentuated appearance of beauty.
My dear readers, how do you define beauty? Is natural bliss the true mark of a beautiful person or are these beauty products necessary to achieve an acceptable day-to-day appearance?