Maintenance: or, why sometimes I look like a garbage collector and other times I look aight

Los Angeles is the IHOP of throbbing fantasies; the land where money, bikini bods, and Kardashians are served up 24 hours a day with six different kinds of syrup. Everyone knows that if you were a 10 in your hometown, you’re a straight 6 in L.A., and every bar and yoga studio within 30 miles is brimming with model-slash-actresses who are definitely cuter than you are even on day six of your cayenne-probiotic cleanse.

So the odds are favorable that, at some point, you’ve stressed about finding a decent date.

Trust: you’re not alone. We all have days spent rolled up in an anxiety burrito because seriously are we hot or not. The tricky truth is that if you want to land a high-qual date you have to stop trying to look good for other people and focus on looking good for yourself.

Here’s an exploration of the high and low maintenance modalities that can keep you loving your appearance like one of those married couples that still holds hands at dinner.

Low

Imagine a lifestyle in which you really are ready in 10 minutes.

Low maintenance ideology believes that putting a lot of effort into your appearance is a capitulation to the forces that conspire to keep women insecure. These forces tell us that makeup and heels are required if we want society to find us palatable, hire-able, and human.

Beauty norms define what we can and can’t do with our bodies. If you don’t shave your legs you can’t wear shorts. If you don’t wear makeup, you’ll look like a mole that’s been exposed to sunlight.

Other taboos include lady mustaches, wearing sneakers to the club, and relentless ponytails. For a full list, consult Mean Girls.

In low maintenance culture, makeup is like coffee – something that’s fun to put near your face but if you do it too much you’ll develop dependency issues. If personal charm and a mild facial astringent can’t make you attractive, you’re probably not worth being around anyway.

Being low maintenance means spending your concealer money on travel, happy hour, and gourmet frozen yogurt. But this is not a call for poor hygiene or sloppiness – on the contrary, in low maintenance culture, showering and basic grooming are critical.

I’ve rocked it all: armpit hair, pixie cut, facial piercings, orthopedic shoes, two-toned dye jobs. And like, I still want to look pretty. I just don’t want to NEED to manipulate my appearance in order to feel like myself.

Who you’ll land: A person values simplicity, authenticity, and spontaneity. And that’s a good thing. If a guy can’t get it up unless your legs are smooth, he really isn’t much of a man anyway.

High

Let’s start with the bottom line: Beyonce.

Looking good means power. Looking good leads to opportunities. When you get that blow-out, that manicure, that wax, that facial; when you’ve got that perfume, that matching handbag, those flawless shoes – people pay attention.

Looking good is a way of being LIFE professional even if you don’t work in an office. On the days that I put on my best button-up, apply mascara, and strap on the heels, I feel like I can take on the world, or at least like I can get baristas to spell my name without Ks.

I heard a story on Snap Judgment about a woman who was sitting at an airport when a man struck up a conversation. He was kind and intelligent, and she noticed his elegant suit and well cared-for hands (he turned out to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

“I could tell that he loved himself,” she said, “and I love people who love themselves.”

I believe this completely: practicing self-care is power. Taking the time to love yourself is radical. And caring for your physical body is an essential part of both.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can practice being high maintenance by making sure all of your clothes are cleaned, pressed, and thoughtfully arranged. You don’t necessarily need to get a Brazilian wax or shell out $$ for a weekly massage – on the contrary. The point is to do whatever you want, as long as you do it out of joy.

Joy separates the high-maintenance from the insecure.  It’s looking impeccable not because you feel like you HAVE to, but because you are a human and you have a body and you’re going to celebrate by draping it with beautiful things. Your body is a temple, so decorate it fabulously.

Pedicures make me feel like a pretty pretty princess, which makes me feel special, which makes me feel like I can do anything, which makes me think I don’t have to go to law school, which makes me think about a bigger, brighter future where I don’t just stand in a series of windowless rooms filling out forms.

Who you’ll land: Power attracts power. You’re about to meet some guys and gals who really know how to treat a lady – hopefully someone who doesn’t mind getting a couple’s massage, because they know how to love themselves too.

emmastone

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