Last night, my husband entered the room while I was watching What Not to Wear. Carmindy was advising three recent or about to be mothers on make up. As she applied eye liner to one of them, my husband said, “Why do women do that to themselves?”
I rolled my eyes but he didn’t notice, being too busy wresting the remote control from my hand.
He’s a guy. He forgets.
He even forgets important wisdom he’s offered me about guys.
Let me start by saying this is one smart man. He’s currently in a business so high tech that I have only a vague, small clue what it is. He could be building a time machine for all I know. Maybe he is. This is my go-to guy not only when I have need of guy talents such as Move, Fix, Kill, but when I need answers to questions in a hurry. This is my Mr. Science and my computer guru.
He has told me–and many other women–repeatedly, “Men are simple. Women are complicated.” I have theorized from this wisdom that because women are so complicated we cannot comprehend how simple men are. Or, if we sort of comprehend it, we can’t believe it.
When I was young, I assumed men thought more or less as women did. I had no brothers to introduce me to the gross disgustingness that is the youthful male, or clue me in on their uncanny ability to discover new and exciting ways to injure, maim, or kill themselves. This usually starts out with, “I have an idea. Why don’t I/we_______?” You fill in the blank. Let’s jump off a roof. Let’s tease the pit bull. Let’s see who gets across the railroad tracks first when the train is 18 seconds away.
My sister Cynthia will point out that this insanity is not necessarily exclusive to males. She will be happy to report that I performed several death-defying feats on railroad tracks. She will say that I was the one who suggested we travel down that steep hill–with the big rocks and trees down at the bottom–standing up on a toboggan. I will be happy to answer, in return, that it isn’t my fault she suffered a concussion. She didn’t have to do it. She could have been a sissy.
But I digress.
With age comes wisdom. With wisdom one perceives that if guys weren’t gross and disgusting they wouldn’t have survived those long sea voyages, say, back in the late 1400s. If they weren’t eager to discover new and exciting ways to injure, maim, or kill themselves, they wouldn’t do daring things like cross an ocean when everyone knew it was flat and they’d fall off the edge–if they didn’t get eaten by monsters before they reached the edge.
So far be it from me to wish guys were other than they are, even if they are at times clueless. However that simple brain works exactly, I appreciate it.
I’m just an observer here. It’s my job to observe, because that’s one of the tools for making interesting characters: studying human nature.
Anyway, back to the make-up lesson. Why do women do that?
Well, among the other simple truths my spouse has offered me is the fact that men see better than they think. Actually, someone offered me this as the punchline or moral of a joke (Mary Jo, IIRC), but my husband confirmed it.
So some of us make ourselves as beautiful as possible in order to attract and keep mates, and make other men we encounter wish they were our mates, etc. etc.
But we don’t all of us set out to please men. We like to please other women, too. And ourselves, when we look in the mirror. Some of us are happy without makeup. Some of us are happier with it. We wear or don’t wear it for a number of reasons. European women, for instance, tend to dress some degrees more formally than we Yanks. In France, an actual heterosexual man would feel free to compliment a woman on her makeup. In one culture, facial tattoos would be considered de rigueur. In another culture, some elaborate form of body piercing or the elongation of lips or ears might be deemed a beauty aid or necessity.
If you look at the big picture, the reasons for applying cosmetic aids are as complicated as women themselves: individual, sexual, cultural, psychological, sociological. Way too complicated to try to explain to a guy.
So I just let my husband have the remote and let it go.
Today I went to have a passport photo taken.
Of all the exercises in futility, one would think that putting on makeup for a license or passport photo would rank in the top three.
I did it anyway. And while I did it, I thought about the women in the BBC/PBS reality show, Regency House Party, mourning, among other things, their forbidden makeup. There was a lot of whining on that show with which I had no patience. But this part I understood. The guys, of course, had no clue. They were off doing manly things, shooting off guns that might explode in their hands and wagering on boxing matches and getting very, very drunk.
That show alone was a prime example of the Men are Simple; Women are Complicated rule.
I can cite other examples but I’ve got a passport application to fill out.
What about you? Are men simple? Is makeup necessary? Fun? A waste of time? Disgusting?