I’m sorry I am not sorry. Or, let me rephrase, I am sorry I have been saying sorry for so long.
Perhaps it’s the shifting tides of culture that have started swelling over my mind, but for far too long I have been apologizing for a few issues with appearance for which no man would ever have to apologize. If you are a woman, you have probably done it too.
I’m sorry I’m not wearing any makeup today. I’ll probably run some errands on Saturday and…I won’t wear make-up.
Even still, I find that my husband will buzz me on his way back from a morning meeting and ask if I want to grab lunch (we both work remotely) and the first thing I’ll say when I hop into the car is “sorry, I didn’t throw any make up on.” 11 years into marriage, he looks at me with the familiar “and I care about this why?” look or says aloud “honestly, I couldn’t care less. You’re beautiful.” And occasionally: “it kills me that you think putting make up on is going to make or break something. You’re one of the most confident women I know and you are an example to many women, including our little girl. Who cares!?”
Even through the mismatched feelings of wondering if I should care or deciding what day I feel like I need to have make-up on, I have started to embrace the waves of empowerment. If I want to put on makeup, I do. I do it for my own reasons. Needing to look more refreshed? Ok. Client meeting and ensuring I’m confident in my presentation? Ok. But to feel obligated to put make-up on anytime I’m leaving my house. Pass. I now do it on my own terms. It truly is a right of passage for a woman in 2017. I remember my mother not even considering leaving the house without her face all dolled up, my grandmother too. It wasn’t even an option and someone would have whispered: “did you see so and so today? So sad.”
My talent, and the talent of the female members of my team, are not defined in any capacity by how much mascara they hurried on in the morning, nor the shade of lip gloss that they scrounged to find at the bottom of their purse before a client meeting. I want them to know that their confidence is reflected more in the job they were hired to accomplish.
What lessons, too, are we teaching our daughters? We’re showing them that appearance as a woman is the most important factor in presenting yourself, that if we don’t feel we’ve subscribed to the archaic mores of femininity that we should have to apologize? And the worst part about it? It’s not easy. Somewhere, someone mentioned or made me believe make-up was a mandatory.
While I’m still on the search for the happy medium, I think at least acknowledging it’s not a must is better than one opinion too far left, or right. Obviously my team is free to do whatever they want, whatever they feel comfortable with before meetings. As long as they don’t show up in the pajamas they usually work from home in, I trust their level of professionalism. And I’m more courageous than ever in owning how I want to look when and where. And I’m not apologizing.