Like most people, I’ve hated the quarantine since the beginning. In mid-March, around my birthday, I longed to go out and celebrate: karaoke maybe, dancing definitely. I imagined donning a cute pencil skirt and kitten heels, paired with a band teeshirt or something else that’s rock ‘n roll and makes me look (or, let’s be honest, feel) younger than I am. But I couldn’t go out, because we were under house arrest. I spent my birthday scrolling through Instagram and drinking champagne from a can, making a birthday wish that our country will have beaten this pandemic before my AARP card arrives in the mail. I’ve spent the last 140 days assisting in my children’s remote learning programs, walking our dog two miles per day with a mask on, and coordinating an unexpected home renovation because the sky actually did start falling in our dining room.
Yet, when I think of returning to “normal,” I feel a sense of dread.
But why? Do I have Stockholm Syndrome for the quarantine? Have I fallen in love with my gym-clothes-only wardrobe and waiting for Sarah Cooper’s latest?
No. It’s far simpler, and more vain: I have no idea how I’ll possibly catch up on all the grooming and maintenance I’ve let fall by the wayside these last few months.
Can’t believe I’m this superficial? Neither can I.
To say I’ve let myself go in the midst of this global crisis would be like saying that BigFoot is just a little bit hairy. I don’t think my razor could handle what it would take for me to go out. I haven’t shaved my legs or worn a bra in months, I have a solid six inches of dark roots, then a shock of blonde halfway down around my cheek bones. If I were a man I’d have a Rip van Winkle beard. And to add insult to indiscretion, a mosquito basically ate my face the other night and now I’m covered in big, pink, swollen bites. Sexy.
I’ve been too busy being a homeschool teacher, maid, cook, wife, mother, and wiper-downer of groceries, and too distracted by trying to survive an actual pandemic to notice my descent into the land of wearing the same three t-shirts over and over. Bill Murray’s character learned to be a better person as he relived the same day over and over in Groundhog Day. I’m not sure what I’ve learned. I think I’m forgetting things, like how to put in contacts or apply eye makeup.
I wear my shirts inside out lately because I don’t have the energy to turn them right side in. The days of pencil skirts are over for me, at least for now, with my hirsute Harry and the Hendersons legs. Will any of my buttoned pants fit? I recently transitioned from leggings to full-on sweatpants because I needed more room; the possibility of cute jeans is out. (Will I ever wear jeans again?)
Cute shoes are a memory like concerts, handshakes, and not having to bathe groceries before putting them away. It’s summer (I think, technically) but open-toed anythings are out of the question since I haven’t had a pedicure since February and my eagle talons might impale someone. Should I start wearing sandals with socks? (Have I really just typed that? This is worse than I thought.)
What kind of first impression will I make when the world reopens? This thinking makes me feel ashamed, and a little angry: What does it mean if looking natural is the most concerning thing about venturing out after a pandemic?
I’m a little afraid of the future because of the work it would take to make me “presentable.” But who decides what is presentable and what isn’t? Pre-pandemic, I was the mom who put on eye liner and dabbed a little blush on the apples of her cheeks just before dropping the kids off at school. Why did I do that? Had I been so poisoned by the social media presences of Goop and all the former supermodels who now have lifestyle brands and have had full faces of makeup and filters upon filters on their accounts since Instagram was invented? What if we non-former-supermodels who have mostly been in our troll caves could all just agree to be beasts together? What if we embraced our real physical selves — complete with deep roots, fuzzy legs, and unembellished eyes? What if we stopped all this nonsense of pedicures and contacts and waxing and lasers and Botox and Spanx and Dermablading and teeth whitening and fillers and maybe even added jeans and any non-elastic-waisted bottoms to that list of dispensable enhancements?
Maybe during this time of massive change and upheaval and reimagining, we have an opportunity to redefine beauty. We’re in a pandemic; peach fuzz and melasma aren’t the enemy. We’ve all already gone four months — a third of a year — without any of these services. What if we continue on the natural route? What if we save our money, spend our time more meaningfully, and fully embrace beast mode. Let’s own our mask-ne and roomy sweatpants and our slightly mossy teeth and be okay with taking up space. Can this become our new normal? (Isn’t it already?) Ladies, can we all learn to love each other at our hairiest?
Let me know — I’ll be waiting in my quarantine cave, sharpening my talons.