Warning: Egregious generalizations ahead. You don’t like it. I don’t like it. But sometimes generalizations can make a point. Generally speaking.
Today’s topic is the issue of expectations of female appearance. This is not going to be some grim angst-driven tirade. It’s just about grooming or what the late, great Nora Ephron called maintenance.
Nora’s idea of maintenance was a little more ambitious than mine. There are parallels. Just not very close ones. She, for instance, swore she was unable to blow dry her own hair. I personally own a blow dryer. I bought it at the urging of my hair person, Penny, whom I have on speed dial. Someday she is going to teach me how to use it. Nora Ephron said she bought every face cream on the market, believing the most outrageous claims. Various creams promised to tighten, lighten, smooth, loosen, etc. etc. etc. I have two face creams, one with sunblock, one without. Surely I don’t need sunblock when I am sleeping. I have convinced myself, with no empiric proof whatsoever, that sunblock clogs up your pores. If you would see the state of my skin you would fail to understand my concern. Way too many hours have passed lying in the sun basted in baby oil, working in farm fields, and flying open cockpit airplanes. My skin resembles nothing so much as fine Corinthian leather. Only not so fine.
Another one of Nora’s claims is that a person can never have too many black turtlenecks. I have expanded that thought to include all clothing. My closets contain more clothes than any normal human being should have and I don’t particularly like clothes. But I like having something in my closet to wear “just in case.” Just in case some or (perish the thought) all of those 30 pounds I lost find their way back. Just in case I break a leg. I have a long skirt I wear only when I am on crutches. This sounds like something you would confess at a Clothes Hog Anonymous meeting. However, there was a seven year period during which my bones endured three major orthopedic interventions. I was on crutches for months at a time. You would think I would toss this skirt as far away as possible just to distance myself from its obviously bad karma. But I keep it. Just in case.
Nora got a manicure and pedicure once a week. She lost me there. I simply cannot fathom such a thing. I got a manicure once. The nail polish was ruined before I got to my car.
Scores of books have been written about women’s physical upkeep. Magazines blaze with headlines about how to lose that last stubborn five pounds. Pages are devoted to eye make-up, face make-up, lip make-up, argument make-up, make-up sex, and made-up make-up. Don’t even get me started on Botox or plastic surgery.
Do men obsess about their appearance like this? No, they do not. All the male grooming I have witnessed, admittedly not much, involves their taking a shower (maybe), shaving (maybe), throwing on clean clothes or at least something not too gross from the laundry pile that will pass the sniff test, and they are good to go. Some marketing genius has glommed onto this. Now men have “product” for their hair. Not plural. Not “products.” Just “product.” Product is what we used to call hair gel before the price was doubled.
Guys, it a public service to warn you that you are on the cusp of a slippery slope and it’s slippery because it is coated with product. Already there are flossy ads for some special deodorant that makes women swoon at your feet. True, many women are refusing to swoon because it wrinkles their blouses. While even a small amount of swooning carrys a certain amount of charm, think of the consequences. If you become hip-deep in women you will not be able to get up and get the remote to change the channel from one football game to another. You will not be able to go to the fridge for snacks and beer. It’s possible one or more of the women could revive herself long enough to fetch you a beer but, based on the ads, I wouldn’t bet the Budweiser on it. I think this particular grooming aid is called Axe or something. This does not sound like something a man would enjoy applying to his armpit. But what do I know? I can’t keep nail polish on.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.