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The Faceless Collage

Fifteen years ago, while exploring the concept of preening and femininity, I decided to assemble a collage. On one side of the collage I placed pictures of high heels, red lipstick and all things soft to represent women who choose to present themselves in that manner. On the other side of the collage, I selected pictures of women who choose to dress more casually and wear no makeup at all. In the middle I hung a faceless ragdoll. Underneath the ragdoll I wrote the words, “No matter which way I choose to present myself to the world, alone, that will not tell you or me who I really am.”

However I choose to drape, adorn, paint or be beautiful naturally remains but one dimension of the entire collage-ness of who I or you are.

Women are like multifaceted diamonds reflecting the entire spectrum of color. The color she chooses speaks little about her essential being. However, why she chooses a particular color may speak volumes. There are so many layers to who a person is. A single characteristic need not define her nor force her compliance to a monotone identity.

“I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.” –Marilyn Monroe

I may be wrong, but I feel certain there is no genetic transmission that could account for one’s love of sparkles, bangles, lace, and lipstick, or for that matter, becoming an eighteen wheeler truck driver like my gorgeous daughter.

So why, I ask myself, is it that women seem to be so divided over this issue? For example, the women that do ‘beautify’ themselves in whatever ways they deem appropriate often seem to defend themselves from comments referring to their vanity and lack of self-acceptance.

On the other hand, women who choose a more casual, natural look are also accused of lacking in self-esteem. Otherwise, charge their critics, they would take the time to “fix-themselves up” a bit.

Yes, I understand that there are many women who couldn’t care less which way women choose to present themselves to the world. They would not think of judging a woman by her cover, as the saying goes, but is that really true? I have had many women, of the non-judgmental type, say to me as they observed me toting my tent, “What, you’re going camping? You don’t look like the camping type.” Usually, I just smile and apply some lipstick.

The infinite individual nature of women at large, being multidimensional, is often subordinated to her face with or without added shades of color.

Why are women who religiously wear makeup often referred to as vain?

Why are women that prefer the natural look sometimes referred to as lacking in self-esteem?

What do you think is really going on here?

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Comments

  1. Libby Brooks says:

    Hi Dawn,

    Isn’t it nice that, as women, we have choices now? It wasn’t so long ago that we would have had very few choices and have had to present ourselves to the world in full dress regalia even at home. Even with our choices, sometimes I think twice about going to do an errand without makeup on. Most of the time though, I just go and don’t think about the “old ways” very much. Very few people would look at me and think, “She looks like a scuba diver” or “I bet she camped for 5 weeks across the US and Canada one summer.” Well, guess what? Both of those are me and if we were on a dive boat, I would probably push you out of the way so I could get in the water first. Books are often judged by the cover. Such a shame. We’ve all probably missed out on a great relationship because of that. –Libby

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Penchant for Pretty
“I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a suit and heels.”