This weekend I went to Nashville, TN, with a friend of mine.  We have been friends about 7 months and this was our first time traveling together.  We spent about 19 hours driving there and back and then the whole Labor Day weekend together.  It was so much fun to explore this new city together, finding places to eat breakfast, museums to explore, cowboy hats to try on and bars to end the night in.  We were staying in a hostel downtown, in what turned out to be the party neighborhood of the city.

The best part of the experience was deepening our friendship and seeing that we had a similar view on what we noticed in this town, which was the way that the women behaved and dressed.  We clearly had not got the memo on the need to wear very short jean shorts and cowboy boots.

But that was not all.  It was the hair and make-up too. Hair was uniformly long, blown dry straight with a few well-placed waves added – we saw one woman with curly hair all weekend.  Make-up was heavy.  But what really struck me about the whole vibe was that this level of attention to one’s physical appearance seemed to result in the experience of self-consciousness, requiring frequent bathroom visits to re-apply lipstick, eye-liner or to rearrange their hair.

As I watched these women dance, and then self-consciously re-arrange their hair or go to the bar, and surreptitiously check out their lipstick in the mirror behind the bar, I thought they seemed like they were unable to fully enjoy their experience, because so much energy was focused on how they looked.

I am not averse to make-up, I enjoy mascara or eye liner when I go out, or perhaps some lipstick, but I find that I only want to wear a little and not all the time and I don’t want my make-up or hair and how it works (or doesn’t) to dictate my experience.  As the mother of a 5 year old daughter, I am acutely aware of how she notices when I am wearing make-up and I tell her it’s like clothes – it just makes me look different – not better:

lipstickme

Here I am with, and without make-up.  I just look different!

So, I came away from my weekend with a profound love and gratitude for my new friend, and a renewed commitment to wearing make-up only as and when I feel like it, not as a need when I go out (I will never be someone who can bother to blow dry my hair).  I don’t want to teach my daughter that she is only beautiful when her hair is blown dry and her foundation is set and her mascara is on and her lipstick is perfect.  She looks gorgeous when she wakes and when she’s covered in mud and digging in the garden to make a fairy garden with me.

Copyright Tamsin Astor, YogaBrained LLC, 2015.