A few months ago someone forwarded me one of those “too-often-forwarded” e-mails. This one was about sandals. It was a pledge that women are supposed to take for the summer about how they will keep their toenails painted neatly all summer or not wear sandals. I’m not sure whether the person who sent it to me was trying to give me, in particular, a hint (and I wouldn’t be surprised, since I don’t pay much attention to my toenails), or whether she was just forwarding it to everyone. But I’ve been thinking about it while I put on my sandals today. Are there actually women (and are there a lot of them?) out there who are so seriously bothered by the state of other women’s toenails? Have I been offending a large portion of the population by not keeping my toenails manicured every summer? Are there other ways that I am offending people in my personal grooming that I haven’t been aware of?
I am all too aware that I have shortcomings when it comes to girl stuff. I don’t know how to put on makeup. I have no idea how to accessorize. I can’t see why people ever enjoy shopping at all. I didn’t know until a roommate told me in college that there is a rule about not wearing white until after Memorial Day (????). I know I’m backwards about these things. And I can’t shake the feeling that there are lots of other little rules and things that I’m unaware of and which make people wince when I break them.
What are they? What are they, people, and tell me this: am I seriously offending people right and left? Someone come to my rescue and teach me these things!
For example, how (and why) do people reshape their eyebrows? (Other than if you have the uni-brow problem, I mean.) I can tell that lots of women do it, but I’m not sure why. Should I be doing it too? Are my eyebrows proclaiming to everyone (at least everyone who speaks the Secret Chic Language) that I am sloppy? What should I be doing to them? And how? Do women really use those skinny little pencils to color in their WHOLE eyebrows?
And how do women keep their legs looking smooth and hairless every day? Do they shave every single day? Or is there some secret I don’t know about?
Why would anyone wear lip gloss? Why oh why? Is there something I don’t know about that sticky, gunky stuff?
And how do they keep their bra straps from showing all the time? I’d really like to know the answer to this one because it’s driving me crazy. Maybe most of them don’t have as narrow shoulders as I do and they don’t struggle with it like I do. Who knows? It’s not like I can stop people on the street: “Excuse me. I notice your bra strap is not creeping into your scoop-neck T-shirt. How do you do that?” (And, by the way, that’s another mystery. Where are people buying these T-shirts that manage to look unwrinkled, just tight enough but not too tight in the armpit, and long enough to stay down? And how do they figure out which necklace to wear with them so that it doesn’t look like they are just wearing a T-shirt like I always look?)
One thing I know for sure and that is that I am hopelessly backward when it comes to fashion. I go to the mall and realize that I am one of those people I used to look at with pity when I was a teenager because they were dressed so “out of it.” (Back then the losers wore bell-bottoms.) I know I’m out of it because nothing I would ever actually wear is for sale at the mall. However, I don’t know HOW out of it I am. Am I out of it in a “boring, adult” kind of way, or am I sticking out as badly as the flower children did to me in the 80’s? Do the teenagers in the ward feel sorry for me, standing up there in front of the congregation leading the music on Sundays? Do I make people wince? I honestly have NO CLUE how out of things I am. I am just plugging along, hoping a big grin will make it all OK.
Is there a class I can take about these things? I missed “Basic Girl 201” somewhere in my education, and I’ve never been able to make it up. (I’ve heard of those “image consultants.” Believe me, I’d do it if I could afford both the class and the wardrobe they would recommend.) I’m just glad my husband loves me anyway (and that he doesn’t seem to wince when he looks at me—maybe he’s just as far out of things as I am) and glad I’ve had no daughters on whom I would potentially perpetuate my cluelessness.