Generally comfortable in my own skin, I have never been a glam girl who “puts on her face” every time I leave the house. I see a lot of #nakedface posts on Instagram and I chuckle because my naked face is my default, rather than a marked occasion. I actually have to remind myself that it’s okay to put on makeup sometimes.
But wise women before me have said that there is something valuable in deliberately making yourself attractive for your mate. When we are courting–not formally, but the act of wooing another person–we pull out all the stops. The shoes shine. Those fuzzy edges get the Chilli baby hair treatment. We whip out that special perfume never worn except in moments like these, for whip appeal.
Working from home has a way of turning every last bit of my black girl down. If I’m not stepping outside the house, what do I need to dress up for? Dooky twists are my go-to sleep style to avoid knotted-up hair in the morning; but some days, I do not bother to unravel the fat two-strand twists poking out from my head. On braid days, I channel Cynthia from Rugrats. The other day, I kissed my husband hello as he came home from the lab. My hair looked a wreck. I had intended to fix myself up, but the time slipped away while I worked. The next time he saw me 10 minutes later, I had a fluffy twistout and lip gloss popping. I felt foolish, like I belatedly shouted, “Surprise!” to someone who already unwrapped all the presents.
Which brings me to this question: How do married women navigate keeping their sexy while still keeping it funky?
I’m sure that my jeans-cami-bed hair uniform is not what Beyonce was talking about when she said, “I woke up like this” in her new song, “Flawless.” But this nonchalance is what love has blessed me with, the ability to live in my own skin with him, without apology. Sometimes, I forget to pretend to be bashful when I fart in front of him. And other times, I truly do feel embarrassed; um, my bad, babe, that one really did just slip. What mystique is there left to hide from someone who has peeked under the hood, rumbled the engine, and driven the car cross-country?
On the flip side, a couple of my friends went to a conservative college where they took a womanly course advising them to:
rearrange the furniture for their man’s visual delight;
line the children up stairstep-style to greet Dad at the door;
keep yourself alluring to him with makeup;
make sure dinner is hot when he sits down.
Those are all wonderful suggestions to make a husband feel special in his own home. At the same time, I wonder about the long-term viability of rushing to put on foundation and concealer in the morning before he wakes up. Flawless? I woke up like this. (Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline?) The concept of narrowing beauty to something women adorn themselves with can leave little room to face one’s mirror and one’s lover and say: Naked, I am yet loveable.
I have this conversation with myself occasionally and never come to a solid conclusion. “Keeping it funky” is a layered phrase to me: 1) keeping it entirely real, farts, dooky twists and all; 2) spicing it up. Ultimately, I think that the balance between dolled up and comfy is an ongoing negotiation for me. I will keep plaiting my hair à la Cynthia to avoid split ends–non-negotiable. But it can be utterly fun and empowering to randomly slip on something eye-catching for an audience of one. Last week, I dressed up to work from home in leggings and a shirt that barely iced the top of my cakes. I moisturized my situation from head to toe and greeted him smelling like a chocolate candy cane.
He noticed. For the win.
How do you feel about the “comfy stage” of relationships? What’s your approach to keeping it funky–farts or otherwise?