I'm calling for a full-out revolt here, against the revolting brainwashing that has made so many otherwise sane women believe that clothes, shoes, makeup, jewellery, and handbags are anywhere on the list of the important things in life.
I remember my first makeup kit, a Christmas present received as a miniature rug-rat with a definite yen for getting got-up as something else. My dad's only caveat was that I was not allowed to wear the stuff out of the house. I can still remember the horror dropping down on my over-made face as I realized I'd run out into the street after the ice cream man.
Ah, the good old days!
Now, it's painful to imagine the number of hours persons of my gender spend prepping like a chef before the dinner rush: wash, tone, moisturize, foundation, eyes, cheeks, lips... Not to mention the money.
Not to mention the underlying thesis, that there is something wrong with us that requires all the resources of the cosmetics industry to solve. And even then, it's clearly framed as a losing battle.
Well, I say, screw it all. Not the hair and makeup and fun clothes. But the attached concept that dress-up is anything more than fun, that should go down in a bonfire of night creams and hair gel and tweezers and diet pills.
Put your looks before your insides, and you're asking for more than trouble and less than a worthwhile life. It's time to get a little perspective on vanity, because while yes, being overweight can cause you health problems, it won't kill you.
The sad part is that we've come to believe that being anything other than a perfectly polished and turned-out 10 means that we are failures. We are unlovable and in all probability worthless.
I can't say I'm even particularly impressed with the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty," although it's a teeny step in the right direction. Really, how seriously can you take a self-esteem campaign launched by the very guys who've been selling you the shit for years? It's like a drug lord spouting, "Just say no!"
There's nothing stopping you from flipping off the fear-merchants who need you to obsess about what's wrong with you to make their cash. What you need to do is look in the mirror and say, what do I want to look like, today and now, not "what's intrinsically wrong with my appearance that I may be able to minimize with the latest beauty product?"
So join me in a little bit of social disobedience. Dress for yourself, not to be loved or lusted after, not to be admired or bitched about by the girl who didn't get the latest Gucci whatever. Dress up, dress down. Go out without a scrap of makeup because you can't be bothered. Laugh at anyone who suggests that your uneven skin tone is going to cost you any potential happiness that otherwise might have entered your life.
Who knows? Maybe you can take the time you'd have spent shopping and primping, and get to know something more substantial about yourself.
Of course, maybe you think I'm some kind of weirdo, like the chick who ridiculed me for not knowing what kind of handbag she was carrying. I have to admit to being rather disinterested in most things commercial, including any product name emerging from the mouths of Sex and the City women with the possible exception of "Stoli."
Maybe you think I'm just being a bitch to suggest that your wardrobe does not in fact make a big impact on the world, and contribute vastly to your self-esteem.
So be it. I'm not out to demean what you love. All I want to do is give you a bit of perspective on two things: what the time you spend working on your looks might say about you, and what you might otherwise be able to accomplish in that time.
And put the primping in its proper place - make it fun and flirty, and an expression of your mood and yourself, instead of a societal imperative.
BEAUTY TIPS FOR REAL WOMEN