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The First Time

By Brooke Benton

I’ll always remember my first time:

My first official eyebrow grooming,

my induction into the ladies elite society of vanity—

when my mom cradled my head in her lap, a pair of tweezers poised above me. And my legs slant across the bed in a waning afternoon sunshine, the breeze from my brother’s bedroom window (his room had the best lighting) tugging gently along the fine hairs that dotted my adolescent legs.

(Or did my leg hairs prickle in resistance, knowing, sympathetic of what was to come?)

It hurt like h-e-owwwwch. I actually cried as she plucked—the tears unbidden by any sort of emotion and tied only to each exquisitely painful little pinch that ultimately proved worth it.

The face I saw in the mirror was a 12-year-old improved.

I thought of this one Sunday, when Chloe let me pierce her ears.

Or repierce them, my unprincipled parenting spilling over into the fact that I never enforced that whole “keeping your earrings in” brou ha ha. Chloe was determined to wear some simple three-pear-long strands with her baptism dress to church, and though her ears had long since healed along the back, she let me push those earrings through the skin. She didn’t flinch. Even as I tissued off a bit of blood beading on her skin and applied Neosporin, and she checked her reflection in the mirror three different ways and approved of what she saw then told me her ear was really throbbing. And I said to her with pride bursting the buttons of my ruffled blouse: “Oh, my dear” (and you better believe there was a twinkle in my eye), “Beauty hurts.”

I could catalog waxings and bleachings and cuttings and dyes and home hair-care gone awry. I could talk about the way we starve and nip and tuck and pop and press and pluck and pick and nit-pick over magazines and mirrors and lunches of salad and water. I could. But then I wonder: does anyone resent this? Are there any women out there that feel burdened by “the things we do?” Or rather, “the things our culture makes us feel like we need to do?”

I’ve never felt constrained by being a woman; I rather enjoy it. Of course, some days I don’t want to get dressed… but wearing a dress? That I want. And some days (most days), I don’t want to do my hair… but getting it done for me? Perhaps the finest way I could spend two hours on myself every10 weeks. There is something quite fun about being a girl, something gently beguiling about femininity. But is it the make-up and the dresses?

I don’t know. I’ve long held true to a theory (my theory, to be precise), that the natural man for many women is vanity: and I find myself crossing the faint line toward this weakness and something more nobly above it all over and over again, sometimes in the span of a hour-long stroll through Sephora, reeking heavily of mixed perfume, the strata of make-up sampling dotting my face. Because while I’m drawn to all the pretty, I don’t necessarily want to be a part of it or what a television tuned to Bravo might suggest a woman (a HOUSEWIFE no less) seems to be.

For me, femininity is sweetness. It is kindess. It is a willingness to nurture and love—to be soft and speak soft. (And maybe sometimes even look soft: postpartum heft and sleepiness is all.) I think the first time I realized this was when I cradled my first, a newborn, a girl, and while I delighted in dressing her in booties and bows and matching socks, I didn’t actually want her to be bound by all the trappings of it.

Weird?

I know.

But there is a balance. And I’m trying to figure it out is all.

How do you balance it? What do you indulge in? What is femininity to you? And do these trappings of vanity bother/bug/annoy/delight you?

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

67 thoughts on “The First Time”

  1. I dont have a problem with all the lady maintenance stuff.
    And I say this as I am currently nursing an underarm rubbed raw from my As Seen on TV Smooth Away thingy.
    Didnt work on the pits.

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  2. Getting various parts of my face waxed is one of my indulgences. It's even worth the money. I also love to get my hair styled: that's right, just to go to the salon, and have someone else wash and style my hair. My most recent is getting my eyelashes tinted. They look fabulous. It sounds so vain, and maybe it is, but for myself I'm okay with it. I appreciate my femininity — I do love being a woman.

    I used to work at a salon/spa, and the clients I worked with ran the gamut: from those who took advantage of every service offered as much as possible, to women who wouldn't cut more than two inches off of their hair because their "husband wouldn't let them" (don't get me started).

    My point is that I think that every woman should find what helps them to embrace their femininity and not feel guilty about doing whatever it may be to get there.

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  3. I didn't discover the best parts of feminine vanity until recently— first pedicure at 36, first eyebrow waxing at 38– but I love those things. Having a daughter has taught me to embrace my femininity(and hers) is a happy, joyous way.

    But despite my best intentions, I haven't had a pedicure in two years– shall we meet up for one soon?

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  4. clisty, you always make me laugh.

    ~j, i'm going to admit this in shame: i've actually BEEN that client. the one who lets her husband dictate. (cue my shrinking away.)

    and michelle, yes yes to pedis.

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  5. i HATE plucking my eyebrows. but after i do (and the redness on my eyelids fade), it gives me that little boost that i need. especially since chances are i haven't showered in two or three days.

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  6. I have always done the bare minimum. The only things I insist on for my feminine self are maintaining clean hair, soft skin, shaved underarms/legs, and a good smell. And yes, I don't let the eyebrows get too out of control either.

    Scary thing is, lately I've been having to tweeze a long, gray hair from the corner of my lip. (The 50's are not for sissies!)

    =D

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  7. I have to admit that I grew up with a mom who isn't big on a lot of the 'feminine beauty' type stuff, and so I've never really understood it. I occassionally pluck my own eyebrows, but I've never had anyone else do it to me. Never dyed my hair, never had anything waxed. When it's warm I try to remember to shave my legs somewhat regularly because the hair is dark. I don't wear any jewelry besides a wedding ring and I hardly ever wear makeup. Most of it is just laziness and cheapness, plus I just feel completely flummoxed by it all. I keep remembering myself in high school with big glasses, save-the-whales T-shirts, and no clue about how to look like the other 'cool girls' who knew how to be girls.

    As I watch my dd (she's 5) I wonder what she's going to do or want to do, especially based on my example since I'm not exactly teaching her much about traditional femininity. Last year at preschool she discovered skirts and we've gone through a long period of me trying to convince her that pants are more comfy and warm. So I gave up and realized that I just have an aversion to 'girly' stuff because of my own insecurities about being the clueless social nerd who doesn't know what to do with herself. So anyways, I'm working on letting my daughter do what she wants and still learning about the joys of things like pedicures (tried one a few years ago and it was fun).

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  8. I think FoxyJ and I would have gotten along in school.

    I stay clean and try to stay shaved in shorts weather, but I'm good without all the waxing and makeup. The makeup actually makes my eyes itch horribly and I prefer comfort to beauty. My girls are much more girly than me, and my sisters just shake their heads and wonder how they are going to grow up without a fashion adept for a mom. I think they'll be okay. Won't one or two sleepovers at friends take care of that?;)

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  9. i have never wanted to be the pampering kind. tons of makeup makes me feel like a fraud because it's not how i really look. i once tried spending more time in the morning fixing myself up, but i just stood looking at myself in the mirror wondering what i was supposed to do next.

    my mom always told me that i shouldn't start anything that i didn't want to keep up for the rest of my life. if you highlight your hair once, everyone is going to notice that first time you miss a retouch. if you get your teeth whitened, you can't go back. with that in mind, i only do that which i am willing to keep up — the bare minimum of hair maintenance, eye shadow and blush, facial hair removal, leg shaving, and finger nail filing. done and done. i can do that until the day i die.

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  10. But then I wonder: does anyone resent this? Are there any women out there that feel burdened by “the things we do?” Or rather, “the things our culture makes us feel like we need to do?”

    Um, yeah. Totally. When I lived in Europe, it was the coolest thing in the world to be free of shaving my legs and pits. I wore tanktops and skirts with hiking boots and felt great. To toss away my shaving stuff was incredibly liberating, mostly because it meant I didn't have to stand awkwardly in the shower and wonder where I was going to nik myself this time.

    It was a sad moment when my sister saw my armpits after I got back and shouted, "YUCK! You look like a man! You have to shave RIGHT AWAY!"

    And I did. Reluctantly. And I still do. Reluctantly. I say, what a hassle it all is.

    I do enjoy pedicures, though. It's not about the beauty–I just think they feel good.

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  11. Sue–ONE hair?! If only. My first missionary comp pointed out my first unruly facial hair at the glorious age of 21. They have multiplied by now, but thankfully I don't have enough to shave and I LIKE plucking! 🙂

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  12. I'll have to ditto Sue, FoxyJ, etc. I'm LOW maintenance — and I mean LOW! sometimes I pluck my eyebrows, but most of the time I don't notice because really — it shouldn't matter. I rarely get haircuts, etc. Usually I just grow my hair out for locks for love and get a free cut with the donation. Only worry about shaving during shorts weather (wish I could afford waxing, though). So . . . yeah – I usually side with not getting into it because it "shouldn't" matter, so why should I make it matter? Usually I think pedis (1st one was at age 25) are a waste of time unless they use a razor and take all the gunk (cracked skin) off.

    oh and my 3yo DD loves dresses, princesses, skirts — but HATES it when I do her hair. So I'm def not one of those "bow moms".

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  13. in answer to your question, yes I do resent the fact that it seems the standard of care for my (young) daughters is to send them to church looking like models — complete with wedge sandals, a hairdo that took too many hours to complete, a slinky dress, and bows to top it off. Why can't we dress our children like "children" anymore? lace collars, etc.? what's wrong with that?

    And I resent similar standards for me as well.

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  14. Such a fun topic! I don't do much, but I do pluck (eyebrows, lip, chin, and and the four or so random hairs on my cheek and neck–weird!), pencil in the weaker parts of my eyebrows and like a good haircut and cute clothes. I've been surprisingly consistent with shaving my legs every Saturday or Sunday for a month now, so I feel pretty dang good about that.

    I don't do manicures, would like to do a pedicure but haven't, am not sure if I'll ever dye my hair, rarely wear jewelry but there are a few things I'd like to own, but I like doing my own nails and having cute lip gloss when I think about it and can find the right color.

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  15. I am a huge fan of laser hair removal. Waxing is painful and expensive, tweezing is painful too. Shaving is time consuming, and always resulted in niks and rash anyway. So when I discovered laser hair removal, and factored in the cost v. benefit…I was sold in a heartbeat. I highly recommend it.

    I'm a low maintenance kind of gal. But being a hairy bear has been the bane of my life. I'll take smooth skin over monthly facials and mani/pedi treatments any day.

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  16. The other day, my mom and I treated ourselves to Sephora. I was happy all day long. A couple of days later, I went to the temple. I was happy all day long. Can that be a balance? I love them both. I know what's more important, but I really really love to prettify myself.

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  17. Is it weird that I've always loved plucking my eyebrows? It just feels good, doesn't hurt. And…I can't stand hair in places I think there shouldn't be. Instead of drugs for getting it up…maybe they should work on permanent nether region hair removal… that is something I'd be on board with.

    As for pedis… I adore them. I can never give myself as good a pedi…so much better to have someone else do it for you. Same with massages, facials…

    As for make-up… I used to be very into it… you know…need to fluff the feathers to attract a mate. But it never felt good. I always felt that cake-y feeling suffocating my skin and creating cloggy pores. I hated the feeling of make-up. Now my regime is not so crazy. It's simple, light and just right. I never wanted to be those girls in high school who looked scary, ghostly, ghastly pale/white without their make-up… practically unrecognizable.

    I do like feeling/looking pretty… I love getting my hair cut/colored… and I feel so bad for those women that actually have a husband dictating how much she can or can't cut. C'mon…it's just hair. It grows! 😉

    As for my daughters… all of this can wait. I will certainly not encourage it… (they are girly enough already without any help) I don't seek to live through them. But when they are interested and want to…we will go at it together… never over-emphasizing it's value… just teaching them that it is window dressing and fun…but not key to who they really are.

    I always feel so sad for young girls pushed into maturity by their mothers… the mothers with the fake boobs, ceaseless shopping, and always overly made-up… busily making up the faces of their daughters who aren't even 8. What are we teaching them by our examples… what are we showing is important?

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  18. I was just bemoaning the other day how many precious hours of my life have been spent blow drying my hair. I have this big mop of hair that's neither curly nor straight, that turns into a horrifying greaseball if I don't wash it every day (I know–EVERY DANG DAY!), and if I don't blow it dry it's full of kinks and weird swoops and it just makes me feel ick.

    So there you have it. I wash and blow dry my hair pretty much every day. I also wear mascara and a bit of blush every day, too (but it only take me a couple minutes to apply so it doesn't bug me too much). It didn't bother me as much when I was younger, or when I worked (it was part of the rhythm of the morning), but now? Especially on days when I come home from the gym and it's already 11:00, the prospect of all that grooming makes me want to stay in my gym clothes all day long.

    Sometimes I do . . .

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  19. If I'm not wearing full make up, with my hair done, and perfume on then you know it is a bad day and to keep out of my way. I love the stuff, it makes me feel better about myself. Nothing beats the buzz of trying new make up for the first time. I have tweezed my eyebrows since I was about 12, and they hardly grow at all now where they shouldn't.

    My 12 year old daughter asked for a battery ladyshave for christmas as she has inherited my really hairy legs. I didn't even think to tell her that it was ONLY for her legs/underarms. She came downstairs about a week ago having accidently shaved off half an eyebrow! Lesson learned, I think.

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  20. Sephora is the MOTHERSHIP.
    (an absolute truth I stole from somewhere!)
    Makeup and fragrance are daily indulgences for me, but I don't do a whole lot else. I'm an average-maintenance women who aspires to be high maintenance, but can't quite get it together! I see beautifully groomed, polished, women and admire how classy and confident they look. Problem is, I can't be bothered with the extra time, discipline, and money it requires to pull that off regularly.
    Oh well. But isn't it great that we have the option if we want? Poor men….they are not allowed the variety of physical expressiveness in appearance that women take for granted. If I had to put on the same daily uniform of shirt, tie, and somber-colored slacks like my husband does, I'd go crazy. Any wonder there are more cross-dressing men than women out there??

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  21. I'm a minimalist, to be sure. I have struggled, though, because somewhere, there's always this underlying feeling that somehow I'm less than a woman because I don't get into things like waxing and pedicures. But if I were to go do something like that, it wouldn't be for me, but for social pressure, and so I don't. I don't see this kind of stuff as necessary to womanhood or femininity. I understand, though, that for some women, it helps them. I just don't want it to be expected of me. 🙂

    I really like this advice: "my mom always told me that i shouldn’t start anything that i didn’t want to keep up for the rest of my life."

    It's not that I balk at all things feminine. I don't resent wearing dresses at all, for example, and I actually want to mold my personality to be a little less impetuous and more gentle, and to nurture with more grace. I love being a woman and trying to fulfill my roles as a woman. I want to carry myself more as a woman, whatever that may mean. There's a continuum to be sure, and I've always been a little more tomboyish by nature, and by training.

    But the other stuff feels like extra work that for ME doesn't feel natural. It makes me feel like I'm trying to play a game that I always lose. I'd usually rather spend my time and money elsewhere. But that's just me. And I know there's a fine line between apathy and appropriate self-care. I don't think waxing falls into something God expects of me, though. 🙂

    I can't tell you how many times people have given me self-pamper stuff for a gift. I never use it. (Another confession — I don't know what Sephora is!) Pampering to me is to be able to buy a book and then have the time to read it, maybe with some chocolate on the side.

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  22. kristine, i so get you here. i am surprisingly low maintenance, but i just think it's all so fun. i have a hard time fighting with my daughters about how and what to wear, so they do dictate– which means NO bows. it also means we're lucky if we get a brush through their unruly hair! still, i insist they dress like little girls. i have a deep hatred of justice and limited too and all those little teeny bopper stores.

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  23. i love plucking my eyebrows too. i have to tell my husband that if it's ever too quiet in the bathroom, he needs to rescue me lest i pluck all my eyebrow hairs out!

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  24. I'm with Rochelle. I know what is important and I hope I show that through my actions. But I also indulge in a bit of frivolity and enjoy some of the more innocent temporal pleasures this life has to offer. I don't know if red lipstick, peep toes, and perfect roasted chicken are available in the next life, so I have to take advantage while I can.

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  25. Sephora is a cosmetics/fragrance emporium with stores in major cities around the world. While it's not nearly as fun as visiting the store, you can check them out online at http://www.sephora.com.
    Sadly, they don't carry books or chocolate…then it would truly be one stop shopping.

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  26. I have some serious issues with Old Navy and Target as well. Why is it that little girl's clothing is available only up to 5? Why do they need to dress like teenagers starting at 6?

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  27. I love your way with words, Brooke.

    I shun most of the trappings. I throw up my hair so I don't have to "do" it. I never tampered w/ my eyebrows until a couple of years ago. Mascara is a must, but other than that good hygiene is sufficient for me (well, if I could afford them, I would indulge in regular pedicures but because of the lovely way being pampered makes me feel, not because I can't bare my toes w/out one).

    Oddly enough, just this afternoon my almost 14-year-old daughter (who once was more of a tomboy than I was in my day) desperately called me at work begging me to come home immediately because she had urgent need for her eyeliner she had inadvertently left in my car.

    Maybe they're born with it…or maybe it's Maybelline.

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  28. I love a little beauty- but for me the balance is time and money- If it takes to much of either of those- it gets scrapped- I am the master of air drying, 2 minute makeup and buying basics with lots of potential. I tell my husband he has no appreciation for how quickly I get ready…

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  29. If you have as white of skin as me and as dark of hair, it's a little harder to ignore plucking/shaving. As far as getting ready, it's different everyday based on how I feel. Some days I stay in my pajamas all day while others I dress up like I'm going on a date. I just do what I feel like. That's it. Most of my friends are used to seeing my both ways and aren't too surprised. I don't spend too much money – I color my own hair (when I feel like it). I have been getting my hair cut more now because I found someone I like (and some awesome shampoo). I do like a good haircut. I don't think I've ever had a pedicure, but I am going to look in laser hair removal at some point!

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  30. I completely forgot about perfume! My husband can't tolerate most smells, so I don't wear any anymore and I MISS IT. I indulge in a smelly lotion on my hands when he's away once in a while, but it's not the same.

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  31. Heck yes, I resent it. It makes me feel inadequate and awkward. I have never plucked my eyebrows, and the thought of getting it done scares me because I feel like I should have learned… when I was twelve, instead of thirty-three, and I feel awkward and sheepish going into a salon for some airy young aesthetician to wax my brows and then hint that I might want to wax other parts too. Looking good takes a lot of time, and even when I invest the time, I am seldom satisfied with the results. This makes me not want to try at all.

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  32. I love the swish of a skirt, the cold dangle of earrings, the clinkering of bracelets, the tappy-tap-tap of high heels.

    I LOVE LIPSTICK.

    I love being a woman.

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  33. it doesn't have to be a salon! the girls there intimidate me too.

    all you need is a good pair of tweezers and a bathroom mirror and watch out world. 😉

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  34. Emily, I hear you, girl. A friend (naturally beautiful, has a knack for fashion, etc.) gave me a pamper day for my bday a few years ago. She plucked and primped and all that.

    And seriously, I CRIED. Right there on the spot. I felt like I wasn't good enough unless I did these things, things that I don't love, things that don't come naturally to me at all, things that leave me wondering if I could ever do them right.

    I felt bad. I know she did it because she thought she was doign something nice for me, but I hated it. And I keep getting messages that I should do this or that and I want to say please, please just let me be me. Let me love being a woman in my own way.

    And let me say again that I love being a woman. I just don't love the trappings that some people do. But those trappings are not the essence (or proof of) womanhood or femininity to me.

    To each her own, huh? Neat and comely is the requirement. How that is played out can be so different.

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  35. i enjoy being a girl!

    this has been a transition for me. i was kind of t shirt and jeans frumpy thing for awhile – ok long while. then i fell in love!

    i threw away all my t shirts. bought skirts. i love the feel of wearing a skirt. and dresses and esp.(my fav) coats and sweaters made of real material that feel so soft and so good!

    after breast cancer i went and got facials and hair treatments. i really needed it at that time. my husband does not like makeup, but i still enjoy perfume. i am trying to learn to cut my own hair, but when i want to the beauty school is only $4. i like my hair long, never use a dryer, and struggle with washing every day!

    My big thing is COLOR in my clothes, and jewelry. I love jewelry! so much fun and almost all my pieces have a personal meaning!

    and femmy actions – like cooking and sewing and gardening. things that mean something to me now!

    side note – at graduation i quit wearing a bra and shaving. that was 1977. don't shave and it quits growing.

    as my hubby says – i am just a hippy dippy girl!
    and love it!

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  36. Ah, Brooke, if only it were that easy. I think my brows would be in worse shape when I was done. People expect you to go through the "awkward makeup stage" about twenty years earlier than now. But you are kind, dear. 🙂

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  37. I've always hated spending so much time blow drying my hair, too. Mine also gets greasy if I don't wash it every day. I've tried really short cuts, medium, and longer hair. They all have advantages and disadvantages, and none gets me out of washing daily. My current routine is to wash it at night and go to bed with wet hair. Then in the morning I take a curling iron to the frizzy ends.

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  38. Isn't it wonderful that there are so many ways to be!? I really love that. I love that some of us dig the natural look while others of us include lipstick in our 72-hour kits! I love variety. Glory be to God for dappled things–AND for undappled things! Thank goodness we're not all the same.

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  39. Are there any women out there that feel burdened by “the things we do?” Or rather, “the things our culture makes us feel like we need to do?”

    I don't resent it because I feel like it's an opt-in thing. Each woman can take what she likes of all these feminine trappings and leave the rest. That said, I have occasionally felt bad about my inability to keep up on things (like ugh, that chin hair is back again – how could I have forgotten to pluck it out last night?).

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  40. A plucking post?! Say it aint so!

    Plucking stinks.

    I have used a pen-sized facial hair remover for years. When they're 12 I'll let my daughters know plucking brows is an option, but I'll also see if they want to test drive my pain-free pen shaver.

    m&m called it "trappings." How interesting!

    Make-up and clothes, I buy and wear. But I strive for simplicity. Too much energy spent on my appearance brings to mind 4 Nephi 1:24, where, two centuries after Christ's appearance in the Americas, ". . . there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of fine things of the world."

    Don't hate me now, but I see beautifully groomed women and wonder how their resources (time and money) could have been better spent.

    I want my friends to be able to recognize me at church AND first thing in the morning. I guess I'm saying that I don't want people to wonder what God really meant for me to look like.

    And I want to raise confident daughters in a society where their fragile self images don't take a hit at every store where Hannah Montana gear counters the idea of embracing who they are. (Now I'm asking too much, aren't I?)

    One last admission–when I'm meeting new people or attending an extended family reunion, I do okay with the men, but struggle to tell women apart when they're all sporting the latest fashions, blonde highlighted hairstyles, and made-up faces.

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  41. A plucking post?! Say it aint so!

    Plucking stinks.

    I have used a pen-sized facial hair remover for years. When they're 12 I'll let my daughters know plucking brows is an option, but I'll also see if they want to test drive my pain-free pen shaver.

    m&m called it "trappings." How interesting!

    Make-up and clothes, I buy and wear. But I strive for simplicity. Too much energy spent on my appearance brings to mind 4 Nephi 1:24, where, two centuries after Christ's appearance in the Americas, ". . . there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of fine things of the world."

    Don't hate me now, but I see beautifully groomed women and wonder how their resources (time and money) could have been better spent.

    I want my friends to be able to recognize me at church AND first thing in the morning. I guess I'm saying that I don't want people to wonder what God really meant for me to look like.

    And I want to raise confident daughters in a society where their fragile self images don't take a hit at every store where Hannah Montana gear counters the idea of embracing who they are. (Now I'm asking too much, aren't I?)

    One last admission–when I'm meeting new people or attending an extended family reunion, I do okay with the men, but struggle to tell women apart when they're all sporting the latest fashions, blonde highlighted hairstyles, and made-up faces.

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  42. I hate going to the salon (but I go every 6-8 weeks). If there were a more casual, comfortable, homey place I could go, I certainly would. I smell a business idea…

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  43. that's funny you say that paula. i grew up in california, dark-haired, etc. and whenever my mom comes to visit me (in utah) she says, "i can't tell any of your friends apart." because they do all sort of have this same blond, commercial look.

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  44. By the way, I don't have a years supply of food storage. Partly due to space issues. However, I absolutely do have a years supply of mascara and perfume. I may starve, but I'll look good when I go.

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  45. m&m called it “trappings.” How interesting!

    I used that word, fwiw, because someone else did. For ME, they are trappings. It doesn't take long to feel like I'm playing a game. I want to feel confident, and feel like I'm a good witness for the Savior in how I look, and so I am working on less frumpiness. But confidence also includes simplicity for me. I HATE the fashion game, the makeup game. I look for timeless confidence, and simple stuff.

    But sometimes they CAN be trappings. They are not who we ARE.

    There's a line here. I don't know where it is. I feel better when I care for myself, but there is a point where doing too much, doing things for the sake of competition or living up to someone else's expectations…someone who has no authority over me (yeah, that is a big deal for me — if leaders say wear a dress to church, I will do it happily, because even as I know they are human, part of my happiness is to try to follow the little things)…that's not healthy for me. A year's supply of makeup includes a tube of mascara and maybe base for the shadows under my eyes. And blush, if I want to go the extra mile.

    As a side note, I stopped wearing perfume because I know people who can't come to church because of such things.

    Culture often has too much power over women, imo. But I'm fascinated that some women love primping and pampering and all of that and that is part of their selves, their personalities. As long as that doesn't become a pride/competition/vanity thing, I say yeah for you. 🙂 (On the flip side, my lack of getting into that kind of thing could become a pride thing, too!)

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  46. When I look at my babies, they are all truly beautiful to me, though very different. Certainly Heavenly Father thinks each daughter is truly beautiful, in our variety. Sometimes we do an awful job of painting over his original canvasses.

    So "which trappings annoy?"

    I reject the cultural lie that your eyebrows have to be a certain shape to be beautiful. I hate watching news anchors because their entire eyebrows have been plucked/waxed out/off and then completely redrawn 1/2 inch higher to make their eyes look bigger. To me, this seems just a step removed from various racial prejudices about eye shape, nose shape, skin color, etc.

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  47. i'm pretty sure i called it trappings.

    i agree that we can get caught up in it and in my case, i don't do it as competition. but the way a perfect hair day makes me feel is something i can't describe. it's not that my husband reacts to me differently because (luckily) he likes me frizzy haired and in sweats too. and it's not like i do it for my high rate of boob job & veneers & extensions & super tight jeans (ouch!) neighborhood because all my lovely neighbors make me feel exhausted.

    and i like to be different actually. and like you said, that could be a sort of pride as well! maybe it's just that we never let any of our little indulgences get out of control…

    my primping is just to feel good. feeling good for me goes a long way.

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  48. so true. i have many plucking disasters & i wished my natural bushy brows back. 😉

    and i love how you said: "sometimes we do an awful job of painting over his original canvasses." love this. i do wonder sometimes if heavenly father feels insulted when we change our bodies so much. we are his creations & therefore perfect in our creation.

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  49. Feeling good does go a long way.
    For me to "feel good" about the way I look takes only a few minutes. It isn't in response to anyone else, it's just what I like and find pretty. I'm too old and too tired to take on anyone else's expectations.

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  50. I use to be a fancier person. I use to not be able to imagine leaving the house with out makeup. Spent lots of time worried about my eyebrows and lashes and lips. Loved high heels I still think that a simple pump is a very pretty piece of art in its own rite just not on my foot… Not that I did any of it well but I did it. Then I got married and had children.

    Now I hope that in the millenium there will be a commandment against leg shaving so I can stop that too. Or maybe I can just move to Europe… That said a daily shower is pretty essential. My brain just doesn't start working until I am minimally groomed.

    There are trappings of femininity that I enjoy, a long spinny skirts, sandals, very occasionally painted nails, not ever having to wear a suit and tie, and I love my hair long, (in heaven my hair will be long and flowing and never tangle) and somewhere in my secret heart of hearts there is a part of me that would find a reason wear sequins every day (if they weren't so darn itchy).

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  51. Just one thing. I keep on reading that in Europe the girls don't shave. That is only true for mainland Europe by the way. In England we asolutely DO shave. When I went to France on my mission it was one of the things that drove me insane, seeing hairy armpits on women was just yucky.

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