I have a running commentary in my head that constantly criticizes me, as most people do, I guess.
I should fix my hair, not just let it fall wherever it may. I should do stuff to make myself look good. I should iron or wear makeup. Care more about what I look like.
I have wondered whether it is just that I don’t love myself that much, or have a deep hang up about vanity. I have pondered the question.
In school, arbitrary girls would sometimes tighten my scarf or offer tips on what I should wear. I didn’t mind because it was not done maliciously.
I was shy as a kid, and felt that I was very plain. That was part of it, sure, but I also had a natural feminist perspective. I just wanted to be who I was. I remember noting, at a very young age, possibly Grade 4, that boys could come to school with dirty hair and still be popular.
In high school they could fart in class and still be popular. I didn’t want to be a boy, or fart in class, but I just wanted to be taken as I was. I was jealous that boys were free of a lot of the social expectations that are always controlling girls.
I have not changed much since childhood. And I do appreciate that my parents were not nags and just let me be. I had a cluttered room as a child, but clean. I had clean straight hair and brown glasses. It took me a while to move from stretchy pants to jeans, I think a girl advised me to get some jeans in grade school. Later, in high school, a running mate told me it was time to shave my legs. I took the advice, it had not occurred to me to do it.
I used to think that my modest and uncelebrated self was symbolic of not being loved enough, or neglected in some way. I wondered, anyway. But in my heart I was glad that my parents had never bothered me about who I was, and just let me be. That is great parenting, in its own way.
I have a very feminine personality, I loved having babies. I am a gentle, fairly passive person, nurturing, introverted, cautious, loving, and sacrificing. But in my heart I feel like a man. And why is that, because I am strong minded, sure and confrontational if I need to be? Because I love to throw on a pair of jeans and a shirt in order to get dressed, and I resent uncomfortable bras? Because I don’t care that much about makeup or what my house looks like?
Even at my advanced age I can see that men seem to be less hindered by a need for approval. So, as always, I take my cue from men. I won’t be trapped in the superficial and restrictive social expectations lumped on women.
But even now, when I look around my house, I feel the criticism, loud and clear, from my in laws and from some friends. How can I live with such a cluttered house, is it not detrimental to my health? Don’t I want my house to be clean and uncluttered like a hotel room or their houses?
Well, I am here to try to convince you and myself; I like it just the way it is, just the way I like myself just the way I am. And I am, and have been, consistently exactly like this for my whole life.
I don’t throw a lot of things away because I am sentimental.
I don’t clean all the time because I like to write. I cleaned today though: the bathroom, the cat box (washed the whole mother), the kitchen floor and some vacuuming, that disturbed the cats. Now my hands are all dry and I don’t feel like doing it anymore.
But here I am arguing with invisible critics, who live in my head. See, I clean, I am a good person! We all want approval in the end.
I do make compromises. If I was unmarried you can bet I would cut off my hair and let it be short and gray. The lesbian look would be mine. But that is too much to ask of my devoted husband, so I have taken to going to a lovely hair stylist, Susan Polley in Sackville at her shop, Touch of Class.
Bit by bit she convinced me to cut my long brown and dramatically greying hair. She does an amazing job, dyeing and shaping it, and it looks surprisingly good, considering how little attention I pay to it.
Susan laughed when I told her that I was pleased to see that my hair looked good, if I occasionally looked at myself in the mirror. I told her that my daughter Rose had said that getting my hair done was the least I could do, as I didn’t indulge much personal vanity.
And Susan, my beloved hair dresser, who is a wonderful person said, ‘Oh, you have your own style, Meg’. And I just felt like hugging her.
9 thoughts on “Oh, who am I? Whine whine.. same as I ever was…”
I like that you own this..I like that you appreciate your parents for not imposing their standards on you. I’m afraid I fail in that one sometimes, not with how they dress, but how tidy they are.
You and I are exactly the opposite in this regard but I think it is two sides of the same neurosis. You say love me as I am. I say if I can control every tiny part of my external world and the way I look and I keep upping it I will be loved. Or perhaps I feel it’s required so I do it. Or I hate myself when I don’t.
It is time consuming. The working out and the nails and the hair and the face and the botox,refusing to leave the house without makeup and all the rest of it.
I would read more if I put away less.
But I am one who gets depressed by clutter. I feel the ceiling will fall in, but it’s all because my parents, neither one loved me for who I was and I was told I was never enough. So I make tangible perfect as the what was supposed to be was and is not.
So stick with your clutter and your boy jeans and as far as I can see you are as the French say, happy enough in your own skin. Well, I added the enough.
Yeah, enough, with a bit of inner chatter. But I do understand the desire to take control of what you can, and I even admire it! I guess I like to be admired for my wabi sabi side cause I can’t seem to change.
You know, from childhood, we females are told–verbally and nonverbally–that our self-worth is directly related to our looks. Truth is, we don’t owe “pretty” to anyone. Not even ourselves.
Do whatever you want. 🙂
Thanks for reading – and the older I get the less time I have for compromises..
Meg, I think we are so alike! I hate cleaning my house. (I’d rather be reading or running). I get the basics done – dishes, laundry, cooking – the rest waits until it HAS to be done. My 21 yr old son now critisizes me for this and I feel bad but it probably won’t change me. I don’t spend tons of money on redecorating my house. My best friend’s house could be in Architectural Digest but she has the money to invest in it. I never have had spare money for that kind of thing. And it’s not important to me. But I am embarassed to invite people over so I probably should care more.
In terms of my own self – I barely wear makeup. Only just started getting myself a decent haircut 3 years ago but then I decided it cost too much money and I stopped going to the high end stylist. I’ve put myself on the back burner again – that needs to change but I cannot justify $70.00 for a good cut! Just found someone who charges $40.00 and it wasn’t bad. I’ll probably go back. And clothes! I’d rather wear sweats and a t-shirt than get all foo-fooed up. Luckily, my husband loves me for me and he’s on the same page with the house stuff. I think once my youngest child is grown up, this may all change. I will have more time and money to devote to me and my house.
I wish we lived in the same city – I think we’d be great friends!
I know what you mean – the sign that we are not entirely happy with our level of house pride comes when we don’t want to have people over .. but then, if someone likes my house I know i will like them! My Mom used to say critical things about people with very clean houses – but I won’t go that far. I will admire their nice houses if they won’t criticize mine.
I like the kind of company who comes to see ME..not my messy house..and you should too 🙂
Cleaning my house has ups and downs, waves of determined attacks and nonchalant indifference. When I had young children, cleaning went with the territory, a sort of weekly war with everyone conscripted. Now, my house lives quietly and if it weren’t for the animals many of the rooms would stay frozen in cleanliness. These days I clean to avoid doing things, to put in order some internal mess, or to simply express love my environment. I will scrub my compost pail but I leave the kitchen table groaning under books and magazines, scraps of paper, old mail and now the Ipad. A friend of mine once pointed out how gendered house pride was, women nervously clean before people come over but men are embarrassed if doors don’t close properly, or plumbing breaks down. Silly really, its taken me years to convince my other half to not clean the floor before guests as they will never notice and we will only have to to do it after they leave.