One thing that's generally clear about women cross-culturally is the desire (or maybe even need) to feel lovely, beautiful, flawless. Most women like to walk into a room and have heads turn. We do all sorts of things to achieve this (especially pre-marriage and pre-children when we are free to focus 100% of our energies on us). Now that most of us are tightening our belts, we've had to chuck a lot of the things we may have been doing to help us achieve that sense of outward flawlessness. I know at Whole Foods the other day, I had to put back some very nice soaps that I wanted because my grocery bill was way over what I had on hand to spend. As I read folks' blogs, I hear ladies talk about cutting out manicure/pedicure visits, learning to do their own hair (and sometimes stumbling along the way) or going longer periods of time before paying the hairdresser a visit, and eliminating other things (they don't have to be huge things either) that used to help us achieve our signature flyness. So I got to thinking: if the shit really hit the fan and we were suddenly thrown into chaos, what are some practical ways that we as women could retain a sense of flyness? It's important to our survival as whole women (not just physical survivors).
Now, I'll be the first to admit, with a three year old and a one year old, and with only one household income, it's a challenge to make sure I feel good about how I look when I step out. It's much easier to throw on any old thing and go. But it's a challenge I at least try to meet just because for me personally, feeling positive abour how I look changes how I approach the world. If I feel good about how I look, even with two kids in tow, I have a spring in my step and I can turn heads. Wanting to feel good about how I look drives my physical fitness efforts. It's what makes me choose a pretty headwrap and make the effort to wrap it instead of tossing on a hat.
I've been getting into World Made by Hand recently and the words that come to mind are "stark" and "difficult". I think to myself: I already have limited resources and limited time . . . what if I had even less? What if most of the resources and time went into physically surviving? First off, would I even care how I look? Secondly, with nothing to really work with, if I did care, what could I do about it?
So I thought about it and came up with at least one way to feel beautiful despite whatever is going on: rose water. Out back we have an old rose bush that the hubby's grandmother used to tend. It no longer flowers but back when granny attended it, it was beautiful, so I hear. I don't know if it will happen this year as my focus is on vegetable gardening, but I am going to get that rose bush back to flowering (if not plant a new one). Why? Because it looks beautiful and being surrounded by beauty helps us feel the same but also to make rosewater. If you've ever smelled rosewater, it's divine. It is rosey but not overly so. And it's not too hard to make at home. You can use it as a toner/refresher or as a body spritz or as a linen spray. I buy commercially made rose water now but it's good to know that if I had to, I could make the stuff. I've tried my hand at making rosewater lotion (emulsion of rosewater and jojoba oil I think) . . . not so good.
You know, every time I hear a story of disaster or difficulty, what often strikes me most is people's desire to feel human. For women, one aspect of our humanity, it seems, is beauty. Often you hear that for women who have been through hard times, a little perfume or nail polish goes a long way to alleviate the suffering.
(I'm editing this post 03/10/09 in the interest of keeping my blog positive and not catty.)
I am interested in being the best we can be especially in difficult times. I'm not talking about being 100% perfect--no one is. I'm talking about you feeling good about how you look (really doesn't matter how anybody else feels). Ms. Erykah Badu sang one of my most favorite songs (Cleva) and I love how the words always apply. It's acknowledging that your dress may be $7 and your hair may not be quite right . . . and so what? I'm.still.flyy.
We hope for the best always but in the event of the worst, it's helpful, in my mind, to think about ways that we could still feel gorgeous in spite of. To me, a big part of emergency preparedness (aside from physical survival) is keeping your mentals intact so why not incorporate this aspect? It's imperative to meditate or pray or do whatever you do to ground yourself but it's also important to me as a woman to think of little back-to-basic ways to feel good about how I look.