Discourse on the intersections of politics, feminism, and motherhood.

Thursday, July 6

I decided for my 31st birthday that I wanted to trash all my old make-up and start new. Even though any primping has become a far distant fantasy, on occasion I actually like to dry my hair instead of pulling it back wet, and put on a bit of war paint. So my husband and I headed to the mall where the only M.A.C and Benefit counter exists in the entire city. I could only dream of a Sephora! Unlike Los Angeles where I've spent the last ten years of life, South Carolina operates on a different level when it comes to facade obsession. Still, the twenty something, running around L.A, eating sushi on Sunset Blvd., looking a certain way woman remains somewhere buried in my body, but is consistently put in check by forces that are spontanious, invisible, and confusing.
As I was looking at the eyeshadows I heard a voice say, "I'm looking for more conservative shades; taupes, creams, and light earthy tones........I'm turning 31 and I'm a mom now so I have to tone it down." I was like where the hell did that come from? I felt like I had developed multiple personalities; one saying I was a mom now, the other saying why the hell do you have to 'tone it down?', and the other analyzing what just happened. Removing my belly button ring that was part of my body since I was 19 was nessessary due to an expanding waist line but when my little one entered the world that voice was there in my head. "Moms don't where belly button jewelry!"
Clearly, some preconceived notion of what a mom should look like has seeped into my brain. I was trying to decide where it came from. As a feminist mom it seems that these forces of conversion would be something of which I'm completely against. I haven't quite decided if these things have anything to do with motherhood at all but moving from the twenty something mentality into a time of life where priorties change. I've read the Mommy Myth, and I get that our culture defines roles by behavior and exterior image. The problem is I miss some of that person or perhaps a bit of the freedom that comes along with being twenty something and somewhat selfish. There has to be a way to carry some of that identity over, I just haven't found a way to integrate them as of yet!


At 1:16 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Hearing your trials and tribulations makes me wonder how some people (mostly it seems, and I don't want to word it this way, but here it is: the more cultured/educated and liberal set) deal with motherhood and expectations, both personal and cultural. Everything becomes something you can be judged by, and as an unmarried woman still in my 20's, all of this makes me want to cling to wonderful youth and as you put it, the selfishness that comes with it.

Maybe that's why more and more women are postponing starting a family-- not only for their career, but for personal "selfish" reasons... Besides just being able to afford and support a family, there are so many other factors that women should consider and are forced to balance. Cosmetics even! Urgh.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Grace Kwestern said...

I love that you decided on a ritual for your 31st birthday.

Sounds like you recognize you're in a period of identity shift and you're coming to grips with how to mark that change. As an amateur anthropologist, I've observed that women mark their bodies in different ways to designate a particular moment in their lives.

Now you're a lovely young mother. It seems like you recognize and respect that you're beautiful and should celebrate your face with great products!

Think about your face....they say that babies learn about how to have emotion by watching their mothers' faces. Maybe your turn for neutral tones is more like 'let me accentuate what I've got and not hide behind a mask' than 'now I live in the South am I becoming some demure little Southern Living subscribing, wallflower'?

I hope you have a fanstastic 31st year. I found your blog looking up 'what to do for 31st birthday'. Mine is in about 2 weeks. But it's funny. I just went from my natural brunette to bright bright blonde for the first time in my life. (Other hairstyles have included dreadlocks, red and purple locks, and cornrows....) Now you're going to get me thinking on what it means to CHOOSE blonde as a signifying mark of turning 31.....have more fun perhaps?

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