Let it alone: Beauty

The week before I left for New Zealand, I was out at a bar with some friends from derby, and we were talking about what I had to do before I left.

“Well, you’ll have to get a wax and a mani/pedi and go tanning,” one said and two others nodded along in agreement.

I was going to argue, or at least ask why I’d need those things before a winter vacation, but thought better of it. It could only lead to the revelation that I never do those things, before a vacation or otherwise, and I’d already shocked these girls with how seldom I shower. The thought of my pasty, hairy legs with their wretched toenails might be too much for them to contemplate. I sipped my margarita and changed the subject.

I saved a lot of money skipping their advice, and never once wished that I was tanner or waxier. Thoreau once said (and I think I’ve quoted this here before), “man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” I might argue that a woman is even richer in proportion to the number of things she can afford to let alone since there are more little costs associated with “being a woman,” most of them unnecessary. I manage to make it through life skipping the “necessities” listed above as well as haircuts (once a year is plenty), eyebrow threading (though this I miss), facials, makeup and perfume. They are just not in the budget right now, and I am richer in proportion to these things.

I don’t want this post to come across as judgmental towards these women, my friends. I like them and they are beautiful. There is nothing wrong with waxing or manicures or even tanning if one wants to do those things and has the money to do so. But for me, “the money to do so,” means the money left over after I have paid rent, saved an emergency fund, contributed to my retirement account to the maximum allowed, saved the full amount for H.’s wedding, paid off my car, and the list goes on. Basically, until I am financially independent and fully funded, I don’t have the money for fancy nails or naps in a bed of fluorescent bulbs.

I will add that it is much easier to give up these things (without really even noticing that they’re missing) because we don’t have television and I don’t subscribe to magazines. It’s a lot easier to give up beauty products when you’re not looking at pretty people or their commercials. In fact, if I was going to suggest a place to start, I’d say the first product one should give up is as much media as possible. Very little good comes from it and much happiness comes without it.

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