Imagine my surprise, having thought I reached prompt #30 yesterday, to see a new prompt in my inbox this morning. Oh, I am silly I guess—I must have gotten off of my count somewhere this past month.

Prompt #30:

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup – smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that dont really fit you – put them on. Put on a top that doesn’t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that don’t match. Different lengths, materials, colors, elasticity.

Now two shoes. You know the drill.

Need to add more? Ties? Hair clips? Stick your gut out? I trust you to go further.

Take a picture.

Get ready to post it online.

Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why don’t you care?

(Author: Matthew Stillman)

Response:

It is interesting how the quote from Emerson is talking about our internal world and our philosophies/values being misunderstood and how, in contrast, this prompt focuses solely on our outer appearances.

As far as that goes, I definitely care about my outer appearance…to a point. I want to look good for myself, and I view my clothing choices and hairstyles and use of make up as being an artistic expression. I am equally comfortable not having make-up on and just pulling my hair back. I just like to do whatever I feel like doing on any given day to feel and be as pretty as I can be. Sometimes that is embracing a sun-kissed golden face without make-up, and sometimes that means doing myself up completely. I like to feel good in my skin, and I like make-up. There is nothing wrong with make-up—it is supposed to be for fun, and it is. It’s like painting. Even if I am going minimalistic with my make-up, I usually always do my eyes. I actually like my eyes, and I like to make them stand out. I think using make-up is a way to accentuate the features of yourself that you enjoy. Having the choice to wear make-up and nail polish (I am particularly obsessed with polish on my toes and collect different colors) is part of why it is fun to be a girl.

I also liked getting dressed up in my teacher clothes and doing my hair and make-up for work. Those rituals helped me get more into the role of being an authority figure, especially since I was a young teacher. When I started staying home with the kiddos, those rituals of getting dressed, and doing hair and make-up, became a way for me to start my day, to make the line between night and day (especially pulling all nighters with newborns). Marking the shift from night to day with my dressing and grooming rituals really helped me over the post-partum hump. To me, those actions mean taking control over one’s body and one’s sense of time.

My husband, being the loving husband that he is, has expressed many times that he loves the way I look without make-up on. I actually believe him, and I know he is sincere. There are times when I like the way I look au naturale, too. I am not some hideous beast, or anything. However, I also like giving my husband novelty. I want to be desired, and I like the times when I dress up and look beautiful for him. I love Toastmasters days, because I usually always wear something nicer and take a little more time beautifying. I like for him to see me that way.

So why all this talk about make-up? Well, this prompt is all about how we present ourselves and perhaps sharing a picture that defies expectations. No kidding, I like to put the best visual images of myself forward—whether or not my hair and make-up are done. I am not sure I need to go out of my way to follow the directions of the prompt exactly—which is to try to make myself look hideous on purpose. More beautiful with make-up and hair done, or dressing up to be hideous on purpose—aren’t those both a form of costuming?

Therefore I think the best way to answer this prompt is just to share what I look like in my natural (no make-up on at all, hair not fancily styled) state:

October 2009, getting ready for Halloween with Katie (on the night we carved our pumpkins)

October 2010, cuddling with my two babies

May 2010, cuddling with my loves

January 2008, with Katie just a couple of months old (in her old room)

March 2008, a walk to the park and playing on the swings with Baby Kate

August 2010, in the yard with newborn Eric

December 2010, decorating Christmas cookies

There you have it, friends. This is what I look like much of the time, especially at night after I settle into my pajamas with freshly washed hair and all of my make-up removed. The prompt asks how I feel about posting these. I feel excited, because I like sharing who I am and special memories, and these pictures conjure up feelings of coziness for me. This is what I look like without adornment.

However, do I enjoy adorning? Oh yes! I am one of those girly-girl types in that sense. I have always loved doing tomboy things and girly things just about equally. Make-up, jewelry, experimenting with clothes—that is a form of play time for me!

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