Oh my but the fall weather makes me all kindsa feisty. I think it's the compounded affect of transitioning to warm, caffeinated drinks and my dislike of that "sweaty cold" sensation. You know, when it's windy and perhaps some might say "nippy" and yet, while hustling to your next destination you are somehow sweaty? I perpetually live in this state during the fall as I am naturally (and unfortunately) a sweaty lady. Sometimes I like to pretend I'm just sweatier than most other people because I'm living harder. There is no science to that.
Catalyst of feistiness aside, I want to get back to the topic at hand which is this idea of what a lady should be. I am a sweaty lady, I am often a tardy lady, and the other day on the train a poor unassuming man got a justly deserved dose of feisty lady.
It was mid-afternoon on a weekday, on a fairly deserted Q train. I had been up since 7am, working the morning until 1pm and I was on my way to my second job, but not before a quick audition in midtown. I had calculated that to make my next job at 2:30pm I would need to leave ten minutes before 1pm from my first job, pray the trains were running smoothly, and do my makeup en route. Now, to clarify, this is not EVER my ideal situation. No lady yearns to be skilled in liquid eyeliner application on a bumpy subway car. That's like, not a goal, just so everyone's aware. But sometimes you have to factor in audition primping during travel time as a necessary evil of a busy day. But someone had feelings about this. As I sit, balancing two bags and a mascara wand a middle-aged man chimes in:
MAN: You look great, stop fiddling with your face.
ME:Oh. Um, thank you.
MAN: Yeah, you girls nowadays with the primping on the train. It's not ladylike ya know. And when I was young, a lady did this kinda stuff at home so us men didn't have to know all about your beauty tricks.
...tricks? First of all, miserly-man-I-refuse-to-call-sir, mascara and eye-liner are not "tricks" they're sacred historical tradition (thanks Cleopatra). And second of all, REALLY? You think I'm sitting here uncomfortably getting ready for this audition out of some personal, social decorum revolution I'm staging? You think I like rushing from place to place, carrying my life on my back? Do you think I really like that I know which Starbucks bathrooms are clean enough to change shoes in? I'm proud of that, but I don't like it. But...oh...I see...you do think that somehow all this beauty trickery is for you. Well, I'll clarify then:
ME: This is not all for you. This, all this "fiddling" is more than likely for two badass gay men and maybe a dainty brunette casting assistant. And ALSO, it's not really for them either. But how can you begin to understand when your "younger" days more than likely refer to a time 20 plus years ago when you had hair on your head.*
...now that last bit was rude and unnecessary. And I'm sorry, truly. I know how particular your sex can be about the hair issue. And wouldn't it be horrible if you lived in a world where society was hellbent on deeply ingraining ideology that one of your JOBS was to keep up some preconceived notion of how a gentlemen should look/behave/dress/speak? That there was some sort of judgment put upon you as an individual because of your subsequent lack of hair? Wouldn't that be difficult!
Men of the world, the truth is women are not dressing or primping to impress you. I PROMISE. If I wore what every man I've ever dated thought I looked sexy in I'd dress exclusively in large button down shirts and hot yoga shorts with my hair half up, half down. What's so great about that, by the way? The half up half down. It makes me feel like it's 1995 and I'm struggling to figure out what hairstyle will go with my First Communion veil. But back to the point, it's important ya'll understand how MUCH we are not dressing for you. Some women do, to be sure. But the majority, I swear to you, could care less what you think about their outfit or their hair or their makeup. We want you only to articulate how beautiful we are. That's it. But when we dress up, it's for one of the following reasons:
1.) Women dress for other women.
-You guys. This is the truest thing. Want to know why? All women are trying to impress other women. Even when we're all "Oh my gosh stop I do NOT look angelic today in this messy top knot and perfectly matching Lululemon ensemble!" we love when we get compliments from other women. There is an underworld of female to female flirting that you will never understand. And if you're a lady incapable of admitting that you've been attracted to/flirted with another woman for a variety of reasons, then I just need you to go watch any Penelope Cruz movie. Any one of them and get back to me...
2.) Women dress to try a concept.
-In tandem with the aforementioned, women dress in what I refer to as "concepts" and then try them out around their girlfriends to get a good idea of its wearability. Everyone needs a friend like my girl Whitney who's going to tell you your "top looks like a quinceanera vomited all over it." THAT'S friendship. But sometimes you see something on Pinterest that you've just got to try! Some concepts end up really taking off and changing your style for the better. There was a whole summer I spent in suspenders and bandanas like a 70's runaway living on a cult compound, farming the land. That summer was the shit.
3.) Women dress to "feel skinny."
-I know, I know. This is a bad thing to say, Bligh! This is anti-feminist! And yes, it absolutely is. But it's also absolutely true. Why not try to stop blaming mainstream media, magazines, model culture and the American obsession with "beautiful is skinny" and admit that WE ALL ALREADY THINK THIS WAY. Even when it's not PC to admit, if you think it, say it. Maybe if we said it more instead of hiding behind faux female empowerment and shared Jezebel articles we could enact some change about female body dysmorphia. Maybe. Because the truth is, I dress to feel skinny when I walk out the door. I want to look like the best version of my damn self and that version is the American, svelte Natalie Dormer! I want to FEEL like the healthiest version of myself, but sometimes, that's not an option when getting dressed in the morning. I can admit to dressing to get thru my day feeling good about myself by "looking skinny." And I'm ok with that.
So you see, there are plenty of reasons why I, and many other women get dressed every morning. Our fiddling is for ourselves (as most good fiddling is) and for a plethora of other reasons besides the ones I've noted. But the main takeaway should perhaps be: who really cares? Let's redefine a "lady" as someone who makes it work with as much finesse and grace as she can muster in her given circumstance. And let's redefine a "gentlemen" as someone who gracefully declines comment during said redefining process? It's worth as much of a try as the safe execution of an even cat-eye on a moving Q train.
*I'd like to take this moment to be honest and say what actually came out of my mouth in retort the subway man was something like, "Leave me alone, you are bald." Which, again, is deserving of dozens of aplogies for its rudness and overall unimaginative delivery.