Mad hair and no lipstick

At the Churches of Christ women's day in October I was MC for the day... and event organizer (hence the "go-to" person)... and led a closing devotion. I ran around madly all day... then stopped off for a toilet break after a round of thank yous and goodbyes.
A terrible sight greeted me in the ladies' mirror. My hair had gone horribly mad, my lipstick was all gone, my mascara had flaked off (I had heard that most mascaras are based on industrial glues, and had opted for a chemical-free softer alternative. Only to discover why most mascaras use industrial adhesives). I had recently turned up to a pastoral care class minus lipstick, and was treated to a concerned enquiry about whether I was feeling ill... yes, the mirror confirmed I can look washed out without a bit of cosmetic assistance.
Fancy "MC-ing" and "mini-preaching" while looking so ghastly!!!! I did smile wryly at myself however... I'm clearly a failure as a stereotypical feminist if I'm troubled by such superficialities. 
However, I have to confess I am genuinely interested in the impact of these "superficialities". Some women in ministry seem to almost be excessively masculine... it's almost as if to be taken seriously in a man's world they feel the need to adopt ultra-short haircuts and masculine attire. Others seem to be a bit... well... daggy. (Note to U.S. friends... that's an Australian colloquialism meaning nerdy, ignoring current fashion and even that which is vaguely flattering). At the other extreme is the "Darlene Zschech" clone... there seem to be some churches where a worship leader / speaker needs to be beautifully made up, blow-waved and fashionably dressed... ordinary-looking women need to be carefully kept away from the spotlight.
Personally, I think professional people ought to dress professionally... neither femme fatale, nor dag, nor pseudo-man. On the other hand... I like the idea of great diversity in personal style being OK.... that the rich variety in the body of Christ is expressed, rather than a narrow range of stereotypes being OK.
In other words, I'm a confused soul rambling in a stream of consciousness.... inviting you to contribute your thoughts on whether looks matter... and whether they should. You might also want to confess to your own personal "bad hair days".


sonja said…
hehehe ... when you wrote, "mad hair" I had a mental picture of "hair on fire." So ... you must have been better than that!

Personally, I resent the standards set for women's appearance so I should just stop right here.
Janet McKinney said…
I sat in the bus going to work a few weeks ago, I think I had no lippie on because my lipstick lives inthe console of my car - I only remember to put it on when I am driving out. Anyhow, I looked around, and there were only some "older" women wearing lipstick anyhow. I remember the eighties when you wouldn't leave the house (well some women wouldn't) without obvious makeup on. Here, most women looked perfectly natural.
I don't know whether they were all wearing that new makeup which looks natural - they certainly didn't look hideous to me.
Now I am not a good example of perfect feminine display - I believe brushing/combing your hair is what you do to get rid of the slept in look in the morning, and make up is .... a foreign object inflicted onto our skin so it can't breathe.
I also discovered one of the (few) advantages of obesity is that you don't get wrinkles, and rectifying the first problem leads to the second!!!

Janet McKinney
Janet Woodlock said…
Hey Sonja... I think "the standards set for women's appearance" (in some circles anyway) is insane too... hence my "wry smile" when I observed myself in the mirror and noted my own "self-talk".

I don't wear a lot of makeup generally, although I tend to put on lippie in the car just before going to work! (In the handbag not the glovebox... the lippie melts into a tragic shape if you park in the sun in summer). I suppose I still have an expectation that if you are going to be a presenter at an event it's good to put your best foot forward... the "professional appearance" idea.
Maybe it's better to defy this and buck the societal trend!

I watched a bit of tabloid tele recently on "Size zero" aspiration... and the appalling health consequences of dieting and exercising to such an unnatural size for 99.9 % of adult women (the requisite loss of fat destroys one's normal hormone functioning, the requisite muscle wasting damages the heart, etc.) It was pretty horrifying... and sobering to think of the stats on eating disorders induced by "aspirational thinness" and silly dieting.

Your observation is interesting Janet... yes, the majority of people I know / see wear minimal makeup... I tend to look twice when I see someone who's done the full foundation / eyemakeup / blusher / lippie combo. I have the impression getting very "made up" for every day is more common in the States... in some parts at least. I heard the tale of an Australian couple working in an American Indian reservation as missionaries. They went to visit a nearby white church (Southern Baptist I think), and the local pastor's wife passed a brown paper bag of makeup to the missionary so she could fix her ungodly (ie makeup free) face. I thought this was very funny in a sad sort of way... is makeup really a priority in American Indian reserves?

I guess a few wrinkles is a small price to pay for better health and better knees! How are they going, by the way?
Tamra said…
Having worked for The Body Shop for 6 years I have been faced with the constant questions of beauty being internal or external, wrinkles and cellulite, cosmetic surgery etc etc...I had a wonderful job for 3 of those years running workshops on 'who you are when no one's looking....or when someone is' for the company and from there developed some interactive talks on beauty...I do think we are all created beautiful in the Creator's sight as He doesn't make mistakes...but the world has a standard that is mostly unattainable and in my mind undesirable...but many due to lack of self worth...or more importantly God worth, see the need to become a 'junky' to all the industry throws at us...just look at a magazine, bus stop, TV etc. I enjoy wearing a bit of makeup...for me and to help cover a few of those 30yo breakouts that i never got as a teenager...but none of this makes me more beautiful but gives me more confidence sometimes...the way i dress says something about me...but I dress to impress me!
Anyway...some very random thoughts that are not read back over before sending...
By the way along with working for The Body Shop I spent time in Christian welfare scene and now am pleased to be working for CofC in Vic/Tas.
Janet Woodlock said…
And it's very nice to have you here too!!!!

I was looking at another blog earlier today (yes I'm in "vege" holiday mode) debating "Princess Theology"... is it a good, bad, or relatively neutral?

There are women's conferences that literally give out tiaras and do "pampering" with makeup etc. People of this persuasion also lead outreaches into schools where "makeovers" is part of the package. The idea promoted is that we are "princesses"... ie daughters of the King... and should behave like it.

And of course this is true... but I have some reservations about this approach. Is this the best way to promote a "Kingdom not of this world?"

I don't wish to condemn this outright... it's a well intended endeavour. I'm just not sure about it. Paul's advice on focusing on a gentle spirit not outward adorning might sound a bit archaic, but it's got something going for it. There's something so wonderful about meeting people who are truly beautiful on the inside... who carry the loving aroma of Christ with them.
Anonymous said…
This is an interesting topic. I've been told that I'm what's considered good looking. For most of my life, at least until I found Christ, I would do the best I could to not look like a woman.

Dealing with jealousy from other women or running from men who proposition used to make me want to be invisible.

Part of finding my freedom in Christ has taught me to enjoy the beauty we have as women of God. Both inside and out. I read a really good book called,
"Captivating, Unveiling The Beauty of A Womans Soul" by John & Stasi Eldredge. This helped me to understand what it means to be the crown of creation and how the world tries to tear that down.

This last summer I started wearing dresses more. Went out with our ladies group to a nice fine dining and play. You must picture this because I'm a football and sweats kind of girl. After leaving the restroom and walking through this elegant hall, 2 times, this sweet little old lady taps me on the shoulder. "Oh, dear?" she says. I turn to look at her as she reaches behind me "Your dress is caught in your underwear", and pulls my dress out for me. As I look up this man is starring at me and just started laughing his butt off.

Not only did I realize that God has an odd sense of humor, but some day we will all be naked so who cares?
Janet Woodlock said…
Welcome and thanks for your comments anonymous! Good to see you maintain a sense of humour in the midst of wardrobe misadventures. I've heard "Captivating" is an interesting read... I might try to get my hands on it!

The way we look can be a "no win" situation can't it? If we look too attractive we can get irritating levels of attention from males (especially if we're single) who... well... aren't exactly interested in our fine minds. On the other hand, seeing oneself as physically unattractive does nothing much for self-esteem / self-confidence.

I try to adopt a "middle ground" on these fuzzy kinds of issues... it seems appropriate to dress with colours and styles of attire that are flattering and suit the setting... attractive but not sexy/tarty, modest but not so unfashionably floppy one gives the impression of hating your body or extreme self-consciousness or being a total nerd.

For me at least, choosing clothes that suit a setting means I can then forget about them entirely and focus on others (I once went to a cocktail party where I dressed "after 5" in a setting where everyone else was dressed fairly casually... uggh, cringe... hard not to feel self-conscious!)

Of course, we then throw in the huge variable of personal style, which why we can't talk about "rules" for dress... just personal thoughts.

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