Do you ever get the “self respect” comments from people with regard to your looks? Has anyone lambasted you for going to the store, the gas station, the coffee shop, class, or any other errand not “looking your best”? Well, people mostly leave me alone now, but I used to get this in college. I remember one conversation in particular when a friend [male, of course] professed his hatred of sweatpants (I was the daily sweatpants queen). He dressed dapper (shirt, vest, tie, slacks) for class every day and proclaimed to me one morning that students dressing down for class don’t respect themselves or their peers. I didn’t have the words to decry this at the time. Truly, I think I just snorted and rolled my eyes and let it go. Yet, sometimes–even today, ten years later–I think about this scene. It pops into my head in full detail.
I laugh now remembering that in college I tried to work as close to 30 hours a week as I could, overloaded on credits to have two majors and a minor (e.g., 5 classes per semester), play a sport, sing twice a week in chamber choir plus concerts & trips, exercise regularly, and have a social life all while being constantly ill due to a sickly constitution. I think one of the very last things I thought about at night was whether my peers liked the way I dressed or wore my makeup and hair. I didn’t attend college to be looked at, and I certainly didn’t feel the need to seek the superficial approval of my peers in order to coexist and learn beside them or to work as their manager. I feel bad for my accuser now, looking back and realizing that it wasn’t pride he spoke from but deep, raw insecurity. He wasn’t offended at my looks. He was offended that I didn’t need to manicure them. He was upset that I was regularly happy without the outward appearance of trying while he tried so very, very much.
Comparing that person with some similar folks I know in modern time, it seems to me that the people who require validation the most are so often the first to snap at a vague, easily misconstrued comment, the most easily offended, the “high maintenance” friends with whom you must always walk on eggshells. They’re the ones who say “I look awful, and I don’t even care today!” while in nicely pressed clothes, a full 30 minutes’ worth of makeup (if applicable), and hair done.
As a fun aside, I used to go camping with someone who would slink off to the restrooms and do her makeup every morning. On a camping trip. I shit you not. “Roughing it!” her selfies would say, to the pregnant pause of the audience.
Anyway, I have never thought I needed to present a dashing front at the grocery store, and I still don’t. That level of “no fucks” feels amazing, and I highly recommend it.