I have not one -- not two -- but three brothers. As a self-proclaimed tomboy, growing up in a house of video games, little league practices and at a dinner table that resembled an ESPN broadcast, life was heavily male-influenced.
So, when I read Joel Stein's book Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, I could relate (in the opposite fashion of course: as a woman, sans expectant/unborn child).
When girly-man Joel and his super cool wife Cassandra find out they are pregnant with a boy, rather than rejoicing (and envisioning bonding over manly activities such as camping), he freaks out (scaled between a quarter- and mid-life crisis... yes, driving a fancy sports car is involved). Our narrator is not only terrified of his unborn child out-manning him, but he fears that he himself is not masculine enough to raise a strong, sporty, tough, dude.
Through Joel's quest to be more of a man, he attends boot camp, attempts to rebuild a house, joins the boy scouts and the L.A. firefighters, but this is certainly not all. Of course, Stein has a panel of men as advisers, equipped with NFL/MLB athletes and his father-in-law.
Taking the opposite approach, on the opposite side of the country (in New York City, rather than L.A.), I decided to research how the most stereotypically female version of Stein's quest would pan out. And so, I embarked on my journey: a stupider quest -- for femininity.
Instead of doing the "guy" stuff, like getting into a ring with a UFC fighter or going hunting (I plead peace), I would be as girly, feminine and (naturally, as) pink as possible. Here began my experimental excursion, modeled my after the most womanly woman I know... Barbie.
Sure: she's plastic, but given her consistent level of happiness and her relevance for 50 years, I figured it was a good starting point as any. Plus, she has a killer shoe collection.
Since I had neither the connections nor time to wrangle in a panel of advisers, i.e.: fashionable, beautiful, model-y women, I looked for their advice via search engine. Clearly, I had my work cut out for me. There was a busy day ahead.
"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life," said Coco Chanel. Well, Coco, I wasn't ready to change my life, just improve it -- so I headed over to Julien Farel Salon on Fifth Avenue for Keratin rather than a cut. Ninety minutes later, my hair was frizz-free and flirty (a womanly quality, no?)
Aubrey Hepburn famously declared, "I believe in manicures... I believe in pink... I believe in miracles." If there ever was one, it happened when I stopped biting my nails in high school. With that said, I borrowed a bottle of Pinkie Pink nails, inc. nail polish (looks like pink glitter) from my friend Erin (thank you), and applied -- inching closer to femininity, one finger at a time.
Shopping & Lunching
"I believe clothing tell a story," Fashion Designer Rachel Roy once said. Bloomingdale's on the Upper East Side. Need I say more? Followed by a ladies' lunch at Amali (just the arahova feta salad may have been appropriate, but we dined on pasta and chicken, too). End of story: fedoras and food make a fun afternoon.
Face & Makeup
"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." -- Oscar Wilde. Ouch. I guess that's what I get for including a man's perspective within a column regarding women. For this segment, I ventured to Lovella on the Upper West Side to check out their Repêchage Facial Bar offering 15 minute express treatments -- obviously, so I can look 20 when I'm 50-something, like Barbie.
I ended my day more aware of my physical flaws; the odyssey exhausting. Like Stein's Tour de Testosterone, my itinerary of appointments and things to do left me feeling a tad unaccomplished... perhaps due to the plethora of unopened/ignored emails piling in my inbox.
Don't get me wrong: being womanly and/or manly are great qualities, but being 100 percent of one or the other is impossible. I still want to buy athletic apparel at Old Navy, can never remove my makeup fast enough after a long day, and throwing my hair in a ponytail is ideal.
Lesson learned? Although they're fun to explore, the ideas that make up being 'feminine' or 'masculine' are as adolescent as G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls themselves. And so, I think I'll stick to being me: a girly tomboy.
Follow Hilary Sheinbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hilary_she