22 September 2019

42 or meaning of the life

Recently I was checking Instagram, a rare thing for me, and I saw an image of my friend nails. She was so proud of them. 
And all I could think was what the point is? Nails were nothing special, and that particular woman is not an artist herself. 

But that question came from the difference in our life values. 
She grew up thinking that being feminine and dressing up is fun and the essence of what it means to be a woman. And she is trying with every fiber of her body to fulfill what she considers is the essence of womanhood. 

I was a bit more observant as a kid, I've seen pain and suffering makeup hid in grownup women around me. I've heard snarky comments of men about their own wives and girlfriends. Such an environment leaves some sort of bitterness, and as a little girl, I decided not to reduce myself to a pretty dress-up doll. Instead, I strived to become someone who will be admired for asexual accomplishments. I've seen dress-up as punishment because my brother was allowed to do stuff I found interesting, while I could not do them as a girl. Instead, I was pushed to do housework and boring stuff that is connected with a woman's role in society. 
For me, dressing up and being feminine is limited because it does not allow for anything else. 
My dress-up orientated friend never had uncle as I did. She grew up under different circumstances, encouraging her to find asexual things to contribute to society, to define her as a human. My uncle grumbled that I do not need so much school because I'll end up married anyway. He assumed that a married woman does not require school simply because that is not the role of woman in society. Another uncle was sneering in my presence, that woman is good only for the kitchen and bedroom. (That particular uncle has a daughter, and guess what, she did not achieve anything beyond traditional female role.)
So as a teenager, I rebelled and decided that a value of human should be measured by stuff that has nothing to do with the traditional female role, femininity, and dressing up. I decided that it is more important to be valuable human than dolled up decoration for the male gaze. 
I still have that mind-set. For me, a good and valuable woman is the one that goes beyond her looks. Actually, a good and worthy human is the one who does something meaningful and useful for the community. 
See what I mean?
The sad thing is that my friend does something meaningful and useful, but she does not talk about that, no, her identity is her looks. The important stuff she does in her work is pushed in the background, ignored. Because it is not traditionally connected with a female role. The dresses, makeup, hair, and nails are at the forefront because she believes 100%, such superficial things make a human a woman. 
For me, that is incredibly sad. My friend also has a daughter. I only hope that girl will fare better than my own cousin. 

The additional danger with focusing all your identity to how you look is the time. We all grow old. And unfortunately, no old woman is considered to be feminine or good looking. 
Both my dress-up orientated friend and I are getting closer to that age in women life when menopause hits. I'm actually looking forward to the new phase in my life because I do not define myself by my looks. I talked with older ladies, and everyone told me that after menopause, life is actually grand. Your mind clears up, with hormone's fluctuation gone, a woman finally becomes the kind of human they always dreamed of being. The woman becomes a kind of human you can see in pre-puberty girls before the hormones hit. Everything stabilizes in you, everything settles. Goals and life become clear. 
So for me, growing old is another excellent adventure, it is not the end of anything. I accomplished a lot in my first half of life, I can achieve the same or more in my second half. And I will. 
But I'm not focused on my looks. My friend is. And I can only imagine her anguish she feels each time she looks in the mirror and sees more wrinkles, more grey hair. When she sees age pocking through all those layers of makeup, she put on her face. 
The sad thing is, I cannot tell her this. When a woman is over 40 and still focused on dressing up, makeup, and hair like some tween girl, there is no reasoning with her. Actually, it is better, not too. If the person's identity is so wedded to one thing, any attempt to reason with them to loosen up the grip will be seen as a personal attack. All I can do is provide an example, that one can be a woman without dressing up. That life can be rich, complex, and satisfying without sexy dresses, nail-polish, and latest fashionable hairstyles. 

When I embraced the minimalist movement for moral reasons (more sustainable than any fashion), I freed extra time in my life. Instead of worrying about what to dress, I just grab the next set of clothes lined up in my closet and go and do other, more important stuff. My own life is now grander, fuller, and more fun, then it was when I was trying to fit in the socially acceptable female role. 

To any young girl out there, I would recommend fighting for her right to be human first, gender role second. 

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