Surprise! I’m Naked… Well Kinda….

The other week, I had been getting over a randy case of stomach flu.  I was worn out and tired to say the least from my many hours spent in our lovely downstairs master bathroom.  I really like my bathroom, with it’s cheery yellow walls, bright windows and nickel-toned accents. There is an even a piece of art from one of my favorite artists that one can ponder upon from the throne.  However, I really don’t think it warrants a whole day in there but my body thought otherwise.  Strangely enough, on Monday, as I recouped, I felt better than I have in months.  Odd, I thought.  More on that later.

So being drained and tired, the next day I basically went through the motions.  I went to work, did some shopping and all the things I normally seem to do.  Since I was feeling better, I was a little more chipper, chatted a bit more with my co-workers/friends as I went through the hall.  I was in and out of the bathroom, washing my hands without really paying attention to my reflection other than to make sure my pants were zipped as I knew I was struggling to get through the day.  The last thing I want is to be is wandering the halls with my barn door wide open.

Later that night, I was going through my nightly routine where I brush my teeth, remove my makeup and slather on the face cream that’s supposed to keep me from looking like an old bat too soon when I realized there was no makeup to remove.  I had completely forgotten to put it on that morning.  No matter what, even the gym usually and even riding my bike for hours on end, I prescribe to what I call my Basic 3.  Foundation powder, eyeliner (only the top lid when exercising) and waterproof black mascara (making sure I curl the top lashes for the ultimate ‘pop’).  My eyes are my favorite attribute as I’ve gotten more compliments and comments on them, well other than my boobs when they sprouted in sixth grade, than any other part of my body.  But here I was staring at my naked face.  Not even a stitch of foundation to cover the broken blood vessels in my cheeks compliments of my German heritage which I had burned out seven years ago and they just reappear.

I had been reading a book by Jennifer Farr Davis title Becoming Odyssa which is an autobiography chronically her first thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) when she was twenty-one.  While I enjoyed the details of her mostly solo-hike, it was her musings about being out in a place with no mirrors for weeks at a time.  That when she met people, she was stinky and dirty, with no makeup or even a shower most times.  People had to like her based on her personality rather than her appearance.  I thought about that for a few moments as I studied my face.  I decided that I would do the same thing the next day, go naked.  No makeup at all.

Well, not knowing I didn’t have makeup on was a lot different than being aware that I had none on.  When I didn’t know that I had forgotten the war paint, I was oblivious so I behaved in the same way and people behaved their same way back.  No one stopped and screamed in horror, “Oh my god, you have no eyeliner on today!” just before they turned and fled the building in disgust.  However, on the day I knew I didn’t have makeup on, I walked around feeling like I left my pants at home.  Self-conscious, uncomfortable and even though I know that no one else cared but me, I had to admit that makeup was a bit of a security blanket that makes me feel pretty.

Reflecting on the day in bed that night, I decided my idea to go an entire week without makeup was going to drive me batty so I decided to resume my normal makeup routine.  I don’t NEED makeup and I don’t wear much makeup but I like makeup.  To me, it is like accessorizing (which I do little of anyway) but my eyes do not have the same impact when I don’t wear makeup.  It’s like art for my face.  And it makes me feel a bit more confident.  Pretty.  It’s an enhancement not a way to hide from the world.

In closing, I believe I have a healthy relationship with makeup and so what if I wear pink sparkly lip gloss to the gym?  It keeps my lips moisturized and soft so I’m not thinking about god damn it my lips are chapped while I’m trying to workout.  Priorities right?

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Whatcha Lookin’ At?

Body consciousness. Self-consciousness. Feeling like everyone is looking at you, watching you, judging you. There is nothing like going to the gym to make one feel like they just walked into the first day of sixth grade at a new school. Awkward. The type of moment that can fill one’s nightmares.

I first joined our local YMCA after it opened fifteen years ago when I was thirty. I’ve been a member off an on over the years, mostly off the last six years. This past Saturday, I rejoined and went right into the fitness room elated that my favorite elliptical machine hadn’t been replaced with a newer model with the flailing handles for your arms. For me doing my legs and arms at the same time distracts me, too much going on. I was also thrilled to find that all my cycling really upped my fitness level and I set up my resistance as well as increased my time on the machine to almost an hour. But being a cardio machine that goes no where coupled with the fact I don’t really like watching tv while I work out, my mind wandered when I wasn’t covertly watching people working out or interacting. I’m a rabid people watcher, I can’t help myself.

I notice how people dress, silently wishing that they would outlaw white socks with black running shoes but mostly I just observe. Then I realize the machine I’m on is really out in front of the room, I’m highly visible to everyone and I have on tight black spandex capris with neon yellow stripes down each side of the leg that I purposely picked for cycling on cooler, darker days. For visibility. And visible I am, the big blonde beacon of ‘hey look at me!’. I had topped my flamboyant capris with a bright pink sports bra under a even brighter Barney purple fitted racer back tank. I hadn’t even bothered to coordinate my colors, I looked like a two-year old who was allowed to dress herself, in the dark.

But I realized, I had been oblivious to anyone paying attention to my carnival-like attire nor had I been worrying about what others might think of my body or how I looked (my hair was wild from slipping out of the hastily pulled up pony tail). It was the first time that I had walked into the gym not attired in my usual t-shirt that would be ginormous on my 6’3 husband and wearing pants or shorts that were at least one size larger than I needed, preferably two sizes larger. Nothing clingy on this girl. Someone might see a fat roll and you know life would end as we know it because the earth would cease to rotate on it’s axis. Or so it felt back then.

Sweat drips off of me, my tank top plagued with darker purple patches of fabric as I workout harder. I don’t care. I really don’t care that I’m wearing form fitting workout clothes because they don’t get in the way, I worked hard to be in the shape I am now which is never going to be perfect. I don’t care that my hair looks like birds have been living in it because I’m just going to go home and shower anyway. I don’t care if my ass is so big and jiggly that people are talking about it as my legs are pedaling furiously on the machine. I don’t care. I’ve reached that point in my life where I have started focusing on what I want and not what I think other people want.

I smile to myself as my eyes sting from the sweat that just rolled into them and I realize I am happy. Happy to be living my life for me. I’m not there working out to have a body that will attract men or be the envy of other women, I’m working out to be stronger, to ride better, to live better and healthier, to like how I look for me. I love the strong calf muscles all those miles earned me this past riding season. I like walking across the crowded gym and not feeling self-conscious. I like the self-confidence I feel and project because I’ve noticed much younger guys checking me out until they realize, I’m old enough to be their mother. Gotcha! Yeah it’s a bit creepy for me too, buddy, but flattering none the less. Either that or they are trying to figure out who dresses me… Most likely the latter, but hey, let me live my fantasy.

The sad part is all those years I spent hiding in the shadows. I notice my daughters have started adopting my I don’t give a shit what people think attitude. Maybe I’ll reach one or two people with this post. Stop wasting your life worrying about ‘other people’. Just enjoy it. Wear bright purple and neon yellow together, if it makes you happy. Always walk into a room like you own the place, even if inside you feel small or scared. What the hell? The world isn’t going to stop spinning on it’s axis, at least not over how you’re dressed or a fat roll is visible through shiny purple fabric.

Now go out there and be yourself, everyone else be damned! And if they stare at you too long, just smile slyly and say “Whatcha Looking at?” Then they will be the one who will feel small…