Prior to a blind date this summer, I found myself scrambling around the city with a laundry list of personal To-Dos. My white silk dress required very specific undergarments, and I was determined to avoid the dreaded VPL (visible panty line). As the saleswoman rang up my nondescript nude racer-back bra and I sighed in relief (crisis averted!), she noted the price and mumbled under her breath, "Being a woman is so expensive." Her sentiment struck a cord as I handed over my credit card and reflected on my busy (and expensive) morning: I had visited my hairstylist for a touch up (I could only pretend to be rocking the ombré hair trend for so long), faked a mid-summer glow with a spray tan, hit Bliss for a wax and express whitened my teeth a la Crest strips. As the costs added up, I stopped to consider who I was trying to impress: a total stranger, or myself?
While I will not refute the fact that I am a high maintenance girl, I do not consider any of my beauty regiments to be excessive or extreme. I have managed to avoid the Botox bandwagon, despite the objection of many fresh-faced friends. I do not even own any fancy, overpriced eye cream. I assured myself that my blind date merely served as motivation to stop ignoring those little reminders on my iPhone and start scheduling "maintenance" appointments, but I was beginning to rethink my quest. What if we had a second date? Would that require another round of intensive prep... was this my new normal? I was conflicted: struggling to find the fine line between contrived and authentic while maintaining my confidence.
The last time I really explored this dating dynamic was a few years ago when I was in a long distance relationship. I would arrive flawless on Friday, but as the weekend progressed my perfect image spiraled rapidly into a montage of leggings, messy and even messier ponytails, and a consistently makeup-less face (ok, some day old eye makeup too). When life got in the way of my beauty routine and threatened to consume some of our precious time together, I stopped worrying about looking perfect or adhering to my strict beauty standards. Interestingly, by allowing this person to see me, flaws and all, it brought us closer. It dawned on me that the only person who ever expected/demanded perfection from me was, well -- me.
The New Year is less than a week away and I have been toying with potential resolutions. I decided to focus more resources on developing some of the integral parts of my character: appreciating my friends over great foodÍ and conversation, literature that I am proud to store on my shelves next to Fifty Shades of Grey, rewarding charity work and a newfound love for cooking. I will not lie to you -- I will continue to look the part and spend money on external upkeep, because confidence is one of the most desirable qualities any woman can possess. However, I know my clients, friends and future dates would not want me investing in the misguided pursuit of perfection, because they like me just the way I am -- perfectly imperfect.