Devoted Beauty Schooled readers know I have a total blog crush on Kate of Eat the Damn Cake. If you don’t know that, you should A) check out her blog, especially the Cake Gallery and B) check out this great post she did for me awhile ago.
But come right on back here, because in lieu of our usual Pretty Price Checking (suspended due to me being off the grid somewhere and thus out of touch on anything Price Check related — update me on what I missed in the comments?), we’ve got Kate guest posting!
And I love this post first because it enabled me to do a Google search on the phrase “Transvestite Barbie” and find you the amazingness featured above. And second because I think a lot of us can relate to Kate’s struggle to look like herself and yet also beautiful in that Big Life Moment special occasion kinda way. It’s really the same struggle we go through daily (look like ourselves, yet also like some approximation of Pretty, whether that was defined by TV, the beauty industry, your women’s studies class, your mom, whatever). But with lots of extra wedding day pressure.
So here’s Kate. She’s handling it all swimmingly.
The salesman in the formal wear department asked me who designed my gown. I couldn’t remember. We were shopping for my mother’s dress for my wedding. She found a gorgeous one. She asked about hair and makeup. What did he recommend? He looked at me. “Well, where is your daughter going?”
I shook my head slowly. “Um,” I said. “I don’t know.”
He raised his eyebrows, a kind, but bemused smile flickering on his lips. “And when is the wedding?”
The truth is, I’m a little afraid. I’m scared of makeup. And I don’t like my hair. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t do anything with my hair. And I’m not saying that in the “I’m proud of it! I till the land all day, every day, and there’s no time on the farm for prettifying myself” way. It’s not a statement. It just is.
But certain occasions call for different behavior. I don’t wear a giant white dress every day. And I’d like my hair to look a little better than it’s ordinary state of indecision with some curls on the side.
This will be the second time in my life that I’ll get my hair and makeup done for a specific event. The first time was last year, when I dressed up for my fiancé’s company dinner. I wanted to look like the kind of sexy, stylish Manhattan woman who might go to such a stylish Manhattan event. In order to look like this sort of woman, I apparently needed a lot of makeup. Or at least, that’s what the stylist in charge of my appearance for the evening seemed to think. She straightened my hair, and made it do something poofy and impressively weightless. And then she put so many layers of makeup on my face that even the most majestically proportioned of pimples would have been unable to peek its head above the surface. And as she worked, I was transformed. From an ordinary looking young woman with slightly awkward features and ambivalent hair to…..transvestite Barbie! Or so I appeared to myself in the mirror.
A man was having his hair cut in the chair next to mine, and after my transformation both he and the male stylist working on him looked up and exclaimed, “You look beautiful!”
I was faintly disturbed, but also sort of proud of my ability to successfully look nothing like myself. I felt confident, walking into the party. Transvestite Barbie was totally comfortable in five-inch heels. She did this sort of thing all the time.
So that was my only experience with the whole hair and makeup deal. And the problem is, as confident as I’d like to be on my wedding day, I’d like to be confident as myself. And I’d like to at least resemble myself physically while I’m doing that. And it seems more difficult than one might expect to find someone who can, with a big event in mind, put some makeup on your face and do something pretty to your hair without making you look dramatically different. I know this despite only having had that one experience. I know it from looking at other people’s wedding photos. There is this thing that is always done to their hair. Parts of it are straightened and slicked down, and other parts are tortured into fat, dangling curls. And most of it is pulled up into a shiny bun-like state. As though to prove that something special is going on here, because no one could ever have hair that was simultaneously bone-straight and voluptuously curly.
“See?” This hair says clearly. “I’m getting married! It’s a really big deal!”
I think my dress will probably give all that away. And also, you know, the wedding ceremony. And the tables with the flower arrangements. And the toasts. There will be a lot of clues. My hair can stay out of it. But not completely out of it.
So there’s the quandary.
And I’m writing this guest post for Virginia in the hopes that she will give me advice, and possibly even come put makeup on me herself, because she understands how these things work.
Makeup is a mystery to me, and so is the art of doing things to one’s hair. But on some of the most important occasions life presents, hair and makeup play an important role (at least for many women). I feel uneasy, realizing that something I understand and trust so little will impact every photo taken of me on a huge day like my wedding, and continue to impact the way my family views and remembers me, even long after I’m dead and can no longer draw breath to complain about lipstick and those scary, scary straightening irons my friends endanger their lives with daily.
[Photo: Transgender Barbie via this guy, who has all sorts of awesome Barbies that never made it. Collect them all!]