Someone leaves Avon catalogs in the ladies’ restroom that’s nearest my office. I have no idea who. Sometimes I look at them, because, you know. Anyone who claims they’ve never wanted a little reading material in the bathroom is lying, or possibly just made of plastic.
The Avon catalog is something I manifestly Do Not Get. Its contents are a complete mystery to me, with the possible exception of the nail polish. At the age of thirty-one, I still have no idea how to put on makeup as anything more than an abstract. I have two sets of makeup, both of which were bought for weddings with the help of friends (one for mine, one for my friend Marie’s) and they sit in a little bag in the corner of the linen closet, exiled for all time. For both those sets of makeup, I had to have someone actually apply it to my face, because I’m utterly incompetent at it.
As far as I can remember, my mother never wore makeup when I was growing up. (And still doesn’t now.) Perhaps that’s why it was never a thing that was on my radar. A friend I had in grade school had one of those awful play makeup sets, and I recall spending one afternoon messing with it before the charm was completely lost. Maybe I had more overtly feminine [coded] moments when I was even younger, but if so I can’t remember them any longer.
I have this weird, occasional pang where I wonder if I ought to make it my business to learn how to wear makeup properly, build up a little stock, actually do the thing occasionally. Considering it’s not something I actually want, that fleeting thought never experiences any kind of follow-up. It could be that I’m just that lazy. It could also be that I don’t like how makeup feels on my face, and I don’t really like how it makes me look not myself – that can’t be Rachael, she doesn’t wear lipstick.
It’s not just the makeup that I don’t get. It’s the jewelry. I have eight earrings which cannot be removed without using pliers, and I never get around to wearing anything in my earlobes, the only place earrings can be easily changed. The only other jewelry I ever wear is my wedding band and my Thor’s Hammer necklace, because that’s like an automatic tic where I roll out of bed, turn off the alarm and slip the leather string over my head. A catalog full of cheap but cute jewelry, little bits of shiny that are meant to be combined with specific outfits leaves me utterly mystified. I want my shiny utilitarian, daily wear, and by preference not all that shiny.
It’s also the dresses, the obviously disposable shoes that are very pretty but would functionally be horrific to wear. I don’t want to think about running stairs in those things. And don’t the fake flowers glued on to the sandal straps make your feet itch? Every now and then when I’m at Lane Bryant, desperately trying to find a shirt I can wear for work that doesn’t make me feel ridiculous because it has ruffles on it, I try on a dress and feel utterly silly.
All of these things, I just don’t understand. My happy place is a tank top, jeans, and Pumas. Or bike shorts and an Arrogant Bastard jersey. So why is it that every now and then, I have this weird, almost guilty pang, as if something awful in the back of my brain is whispering, you’re a girl, you should get this stuff.
It’s total bullshit, of course. It’s just fine if there are people who like shiny and makeup and brightly colored things. It should be just as fine for there to be people who don’t. And it should be fine that I’m one of those people. So where does this thought even come from? Alien mind control slug? It doesn’t even feel like something I’d think, and it never goes further than me trying on a dress, looking in the mirror, and going Oh hell no.
Sometimes I like to imagine that maybe there’s a boy out there who got my societally mandated portion of shiny and makeup. I hope he looks utterly gorgeous. And I hope all of his friends are as understanding of him as mine are of me and my complete inability to even want to wear eye shadow.