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September Surrender: Day 19

What I’m Letting Go: Shoulder Length, No Longer

I don’t do my hair anymore. I get it cut maybe once every three months when it starts to look too much like a lamp. Otherwise when I wash it, I put some stuff in to defrizz it, then let it go. I don’t care what it looks like in the morning. It’s either down or up in a clip. I’ve got no in between, I’ve got no routine. It seems the least important thing these days, but I wonder just how locked into place I am with this.

I’ve tried doing all sorts of things with my hair over the years. In high school and college I dyed it pink, blue, blonde, turquoise, black, mahogany, lighter shades of brown. As a kid my mom would ‘set’ it with bobby pins before I went to sleep so it’d be extra curly in the morning. I’ve also had it all different lengths. In eighth grade, I wanted to go for a cute little bob but ended up with a boy’s haircut. I looked like a little Italian boy for much of that year, and wore a sweat band that pushed my hair up, looking like I had a broccoli plume sticking out of my forehead. I just didn’t know how to tame it and I vowed never to cut it that short again. Until I did about a decade and a half later but was able manage it better. Sort of.

I do want the long hair again. It was past my waist in junior year of high school. Hippie status. I liked it. But I also straightened it every day, turning it into a sizzling split-end straight mess. But it’s fine. There doesn’t seem to be too much long-term damage. I leave it curly now. I don’t touch it. I treat it much nicer than I ever did. I don’t even let the girl blow it out after she cuts it, she just sends me home with a wet head. But as much as I want to keep it growing, it feels like I’ve stopped at this length. It sits on my shoulders and doesn’t seem get any longer than that. I don’t know if it’s the extra curliness or what, but it feels like this is my length from now on. My co-workers all have nice, long hair, and I’m just seeing that less and less in my future. I’ve got to rinse out any jealousy I feel at what everyone else has, because it’s not making the cut anymore.

I’m grateful for the curls I do have and how easily I seem to get them. I’ve got a good thing going with this mom-length hair, even with the hairline practically going down my back. I’m sure my kid will wonder why she’s got so much hair on her upper lip. Just one of those genetic things to come out in the wash.

What I’ve Discovered: Au Naturel

I don’t wear makeup anymore. I can’t remember the last time I did. Not even a little bit of mascara to bring out my eyes. Mostly I’m just too lazy and tired to make the effort, but the truth is, I don’t need it. I can say that finally. But for a long time, I felt like I needed to approach the world from under a layer of paint.

High school was when I first started using makeup. I did the typical little girl thing of pilfering mom’s makeup bag once in a while, but it was never that important to me. I remember putting a little eye liner on my undereye one day, and one of the girl’s in my class actually took notice after getting on the field hockey bus. She announced to everyone as I sat there, “Oh, Gina, are you wearing makeup?” I felt a little embarrassed as she walked by, and said, “Yeah, a little bit.” She told me how good it looked and said anyone could wear makeup, “Or you could just be naturally pretty like me!” A few of the other girls laughed and she walked to the back of the bus. I remember thinking how weird a statement that was, especially on the same day anyone in that school saw me dolled up.

I don’t think she meant anything mean to me. I wasn’t a big fan of hers, anyway. She was considered the “hot girl” in our class but I never thought so. I think I was just jealous that she even had the title. Either way, I kept up doing my makeup from then on, gradually adding in more eye shadow and black eyeliner during my punk phase. It was always fun getting ready for the school dances with my girlfriends, all of us doing our own makeup in the same mirror. I gradually went from jewel tones to a more natural look, but still went through the daunting task of actually putting on my face before class and then eventually work.

It’s because I needed it. Or I thought I did. I looked so ugly without it. And who’d want to see me all stripped down? These are the things I’d believe. I’d apologize for not having makeup on. You wouldn’t catch me dead without a little cat-eye wing on my lid. Then suddenly, everything shut down, and it became kitsch to go makeup-free. My reliance on it got less and less, to where as recent as a few months ago, I’d only swipe some mascara on half my upper lashes and be good to go.

I still do all the face maintenance I can, like pluck my brows or tweeze my ‘stash, but I seemed to have taken a page from my field hockey teammate. I feel the same now without makeup as I did with it on: safe, beautiful, ready to greet the world. I found that confidence. I’m still not sure how. I knock no one who wears it. You all can do it much better than I ever could. I’m just not sure the next time I’ll be needing it. I wouldn’t want to take away from the default layers I show the world. I wouldn’t mind a little less dark circles, but there’s some things even the magic of makeup can’t fix.

What I Hope to Find: Fit to Match, Head to Foot

I don’t make an effort with my work clothes anymore. I wish I did. Especially now that it’s getting to be that time of the year when we break out the fall wardrobes. I’m just not trying right now. I wore a nice sweaterdress with a pair of flip-flops today. The same ones I wore yesterday. My co-worker made a note of how gross it is to wear flip-flops in the city, especially when it’s raining. I know how right he is. But I just didn’t care. There’s nowhere else for me to shove my feet right now. Who wants to wear heels on a Tuesday? Who has time to be in that mindset? I just want to get in and get out and get comfy back home. With pants on, this time.

Either way, dressing nice just feels secondary to everything else going on right now. I just ordered some new bedsheets and pajama pants for my mom. I like having the ability to get them what they need, even when I can’t physically be there. But I have to be comfortable everywhere else too. This is hard for everyone. I’m fine just dressing down throughout it.

In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Italy. I have exactly zero idea what I’m even going to wear. I feel like I have no vacation clothes. Nothing I’d look good in, anyway. I have a nice strapless pantsuit I wore to work once with a blazer, but I haven’t touched it since. I’d like to find an occasion where I can wear it over there and feel like I belong in it. Because although I’ve found the confidence in my face, I haven’t found it for my body yet. I just want to look bangin’ in clothes for once, and I’m a long way away from that. I’ve sidetracked myself and wrinkled the laundry, and not a lot of time to iron it out.

So I’ll just be here trying new things, perhaps ordering a new outfit, and aim to get things properly tailored. A little more effort will go a long way. Besides, flip-flops on the Italian Riviera absolutely screams “tourist.”

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