What are you hiding behind?


I don’t often post other people’s content, but I loved this TEDx video.  I grew up with this woman as my newsreader, so I wanted to share it with you.

Tracey Spicer strips on stage

When I talked about the cost of being vain, I meant that I REFUSE to spend that much money, let alone time, on grooming.  Sure, the occasional fake tan and waxing for special occasions.  But I like I wear a uniform, which means I don’t need to wear high heels, or constricting bodycon clothes.  I don’t wear make up, or ‘style’ my hair.  I want to appear ready for anything in the field.  Yes, I still carry a handbag, but that’s for stuff…

What are your thoughts on women and appearance?

17 Replies to “What are you hiding behind?”

  1. Same here! My grooming routine is soap and shampoo if I'm going to work, and some lotion if my skin is particularly dry. My family never put much emphasis on appearances and since I grew up in a rural area, neither did my peers. Thank goodness! 🙂

    I loved Tracey's talk – I was nodding along with her points. And she's so funny!

    1. I love your routine – I swap soap for a non drying face wash (Cetaphil), and I reuse shampoo as a body wash as needed.

      I'm glad to hear the 'beauty' myth hasn't infected you too much – I think all my years at boarding school with 'country' kids probably helped me keep things real (though they all wear make up occassionally now)

  2. Well… I’ve been back and forth on this topic, but currently, and for the vast majority of my life I just refuse to play these sorts of games. I don’t do modern hair, I don’t do fashion, I don’t wear makeup, and have NEVER had a fake tan (though I did do a brief stint in the tanning booths when I was a teenager – so far no skin cancer, knock on wood.) I just don’t do any of it any more and can’t really imagine going back. Of course, I work from home and don’t have anyone to impress. It’s fun to play dress-up now and then, but I seriously can’t imagine having to go through all that on a daily basis.

    It makes me really sad when I hear women say things like how they can never leave the house without their makeup on or without “doing their hair.” It helps that CatMan hates all that stuff too, and thinks women look terrible with makeup, hairdos and fancy clothes.

    Have you ever read “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf? It’s a pretty powerful book on this topic.

    1. Hi five to you EcoCatLady! I'm so glad the CatMan is in agreement with you – I wish more men more to be honest! Women don't solely exist as eye candy to men!!

      I haven't read the Beauty Myth, I'll add it to my 'to read' list!

  3. Loved that video. Interesting that women spend on average 27 mins per day to get ready for work. I do wear make-up nowadays and by the time I straighten hair, shave legs etc. I think that's not far off the mark. And I thought I was low-maintenance! Interesting too to hear the correlation between income and grooming time. There must be a set point where too little time has a negative income link, as well as too much!

    1. Great video – she seemed a little nervous at the start (to me), but by the time she stripped down, she seemed truly herself!

      I like to think I'm low maintenance too, but with the occasional "special occasion" fake tan, the waxing (I've never shaved my legs), the hair cuts, it certainly adds up, even without daily make up applicaton.

      I agree, I think as an aggregate of all women's incomes and work, I'm sure we generally earn less, and are 'less productive' (think of all the part timers who do child care). In a lot of ways, I thank my lucky stars I wear a uniform to work – the expectations are set for me and they aren't gender based! Sure, some might think I look 'butch' or unwomanly, but personally, I am happy to bow out of daily make up and deciding what to wear each day!

  4. Thanks for posting this video, Sarah! I had the same kind of "A Ha!" moment when I saw Jamie Lee Curtis's true-life photos in More magazine many years ago: http://www.more.com/news/womens-issues/jamie-lee-

    This is a topic I feel strongly about. I can't help but question it when women say they spend so much time on personal grooming "for myself" or "to make me feel my best." Hair, make-up, body shapers and high heels are about how you look to others. So I think you either wear them because they're expected and they help you fit in, or because other people will look down on you if you choose not to. If you look in the mirror and criticize yourself for looking natural, then you have absorbed the voices of critics in the media or in society. Or maybe family members long ago who might have said, "She's so plain" or "Why can't she be more like her sister?" What especially bothers me is that if a woman doesn't spend a lot of time on grooming, as Tracey said, she is accused of looking ill or of having no self-esteem because she doesn't take care of herself.

    The catch is that when you perform a ritual to look unlike your everyday self, it makes you feel different or special, like putting on a costume and creating a character. I can understand how women get addicted to the feeling of glamour, and the praise they get for making the effort. And of course, there's the whole concept of dressing for men and for "the male gaze." Although most women would say it's other women who are more critical.

    I was single for a dozen years in my 30s and 40s and I was mindful that I had to keep up appearances to attract a mate (!) and I also didn't want to just "let myself go" (as women say about each other). I thought about what it would take for me to be happy with my appearance in the coming years, and I decided I would feel best if I was fit, ate well, and dressed in clothes that fit my body, but were neither tight nor oversized. As you know, I stopped colouring my hair and I haven't worn makeup for years.

    Anyway, I could go on all day, but thanks for the opportunity to vent!

    1. I'll read that article – it seems great. I also feel incredibly strongly about this issue, and a lot of 'gender' issues!

      I agree – as I was single for a number of years before the BF, I also had it 'on my mind' but still left make up for going out, rather than day to day. It is hard, whilst my parents' are 100% behind my career, I do recall my father's advice occasionally on my uniform not being very feminine, or my hair cuts (post head shave). Thankfully, I don't take it to heart too much – my uniform isn't about looking good, it's about keeping me safe (from electrocution)! And I'm not at work to attract the affections of men, I'm hear to get a job done.

    2. Dar – that line about "having low self-esteem" because you "don't take care of yourself" is a special bug-bear of mine. There's a group of mums at our school who say that a lot. I've always thought it's the opposite…you have to have healthy self-esteem not to care too much about appearances. And the issue of dressing for the "male gaze" is surprisingly well adhered to. I could go on all day as well!

      That said…I've fallen into the pit of thinking I have to dress for the socio-economic background (high) of the clientele at our school. I'd feel seriously out of place without the 'right' kind of hair and makeup.

      1. I couldn't agree more Fiona – when I have a healthy self esteem, I have NOTHING to hide behind, ie make up or clothing (I also see a similar parallel with excessive drinking and emotional issues).

        Do let me know what the 'right' style of hair is! At least I'll understand that, but for make up – there's one way I put it on, and I can't work out how magazines have SO many pages of 'how to' every month!!

        And back to the first point, as a not very 'dress up-y' girl, I like to think/assume the men I do attract prefer the confidence and intelligence and heart and soul, rather than the wrapping paper. As one ex said, in our old age, all we have is conversation. Needless to say, we're still friends!

      2. Fiona – I worked in inner-city libraries for most of my career so I always intentionally "dressed down" so that our customers wouldn't see me as a "never-gets-her-hands-dirty" sort of professional!

  5. OK, I may not be able to express myself too well here, I am after all a contradiction, an internal paradox. I have quite strong self-confidence. I wear make-up nearly every day. Not as much as some, more than others. I put it on in the morning and don't touch it up at all during the day (not even my lippy) unless I go out in the evening. I have many handbags. I like to change them, just because. I have my hair coloured and cut every 5 weeks or so. I do not blow dry it or style it at home, because I can't. I change the style and colour regularly because it is a bit of fun. I wear high heels. Not as often or as high as I used to because my back complains when I do. I occasionally wear body squishy undergarments – breathing is so over-rated.

    Like many Aussie women, I have sun damaged skin. And I am very fair, so my cheeks are very red. I look healthier with foundation on. And I have fair and short eye lashes, so I look better with a bit of colour around my eyes. Same with my eye brows. They have got thinner and sparser and lighter but spreading as I age, so they look better shaped and coloured. Make my whole face look better, in fact.

    Why do I do it? Who am I doing it for? Me. My husband. Other women. People in general, including men. I know I won't be model material but I feel good about myself with a bit of colour and nice stuff. And I feel good without it. I sit around the house in trackies or swimmers and a sarong.

    All my fancy clothes and my hair and make-up won't make me feel good about myself, but I do like them.

    1. I know your a great lover of clothes, and shoes and bags. I don't think that is any problem at all – I'm more concerned by those that feel they 'have' to by some sort of external motivator in life, whether it be 'work' or 'the men' or something similar. I do actually think some cosmetic changes (clothing, tanning, make up) can make me feel better too – but I also think the effect would be diminished if I used the same pick me ups daily.

      I think you hit the nail on the head – you feel comfortable without it – with your dress tucked in your undies, or wearing swimmers and a sarong. And that's truly the most important thing.

      1. Oh! You remember the undie-tucking! See, I am a contradiction. Tucking undies one moment; sequins and heels the next! Lol.

        Though some clothes I wear for work, I won't wear any other time or anywhere else. They are my "uniform", clothes that signify my position, not me. I the same way as your uniform.

        I keep meaning to have a spray tan, but just never get around to it. Also hate the smell of most spray tans!

  6. Gosh, this is a subject, and I haven't watched the video yet, but…
    I'm pretty low maintenance and always have been – perhaps this is a 'growing up in the country' thing. I don't have low self esteem issues, although I am overweight and it bothers me a little how people judge me on this (and by people I mean my own mother – if I wasn't of strong character I would need counselling I swear! :)).
    My husband met me at a very low point in my life and I did nothing to attract him at all, so I know he married me for the right reasons.

    1. It is wonderful that your husband loved you when you thought you were at your most unlovable (physically) – that's speaks of your inner beauty undoubtedly.

      My mother isn't on about my weight (ever), Dad occasionally, but both of them always want me to have better posture. If only counting calories and exercising might fix that :p

      I grew up with lots of country girls, so even being from the city, maybe it rubbed off on me too?

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