fringe benefit

one of the unanticipated bonuses of this trip has been becoming more comfortable with my looks. or, more accurately, becoming more comfortable with caring less about them.

at home, i’m a makeup-every-day kind of girl. not a lot, mind you, just enough to touch things up a bit and look slightly more pulled together than my usual rumpled self.

and (i am loathe to admit) i did actually bring along a tiny bit of makeup with me. i don’t know why – i guess i had some vague notion about wanting to “look nice” when we went out.

so i was surprised to find that i never even touched it (or missed it) after the first week of our trip. my fringe/bangs have been, by necessity, a d.i.y. job along the way. they grow at an alarming rate, and require trimming at least every two weeks. at first, i was understandibly trepidatious about taking the scissors to my hair, but i can tell you now: there’s a certain freedom in realising that they simply cannot get any more f-ed up than they already are, so now i snip away with abandon. mirrors along this trip are often tiny or non-existent; i can’t even remember the last time i saw myself full-length. and slowly but surely, the need to check them has gradually tapered away. in fact, on the inca trail recently, i went four full days without any type of mirror whatsoever (which, given the level of cleanliness after 4 days trekking, was probably a blessing in disguise) because i just plumb forgot to pack one. and you know, i didn’t even miss it.

now lest you begin to think i’ve let myself go to pot, rest assured: i still shave and pluck. i’ve dyed the roots more than once in a hostel bathroom. i’m still a devotee of deodorant and clean underwear.

but it’s been tremendously freeing to not have to think so much about how i look. it’s been nice to break my slavery to the reflected image. to be able to focus more on *doing* and less what i look like doing it. to channel more energy into feeling good rather than looking good.

i know this won’t last forever. once i’m back in a city full of polished people, the pressure to look “nice”, the need to appear “professional” at work, will ultimately require a little more effort than just toothpaste-fresh breath and a strategically worn bandanna. i know this.

but until then, i’ll just enjoy it while i can. chalk it up as a fringe benefit.

5 Responses to “fringe benefit”

  1. Anglofille
    September 24th, 2006 11:45

    This must be quite liberating. And you look great in your photos, so perhaps all that really matters is just attitude. Now that I’ve moved to Paris, I’ve been thinking about this issue as well. While most people would assume that there would be tremendous pressure here to look chic, it’s just not the case. Women here have very eclectic personal styles. They don’t all look like clones. It’s more about how you carry yourself and whether you feel self-confident. I’m learning a lot just by observing.

  2. vanessa
    September 24th, 2006 11:53

    that’s funny b/c in all your picks i think you look tres polished. the bangs are rockin. smooch.

  3. kim
    September 24th, 2006 16:37

    so true! when travelling, it really is about the experience and all the rest just doesn’t matter. you aren’t a high maintenance chic with the looks thing anyway, so perhaps this just validated this a bit for ya?!? as for the fringe, well, you’ve been lookin’ fab in the photos.

  4. jen
    September 24th, 2006 22:13

    thanks ladies for the compliments! my friend in OZ said we didn’t look like we’d been travelling for months on end, but i thought she just meant we didn’t smell!

  5. daddio
    September 25th, 2006 10:57

    ah, we havn’t reached that point in our travels yet. in our trip to greece had our only check in “luggage” a separate backpack because cate needed her perfume, which of course she only had in a larger size bottle. of course that also meant that we didn’t have to buy toothpaste, deoderant etc in a greek pharmacy (no liquids, gels, etc. of any kind are now allowed on board in carry on).

    as for myself, shaved once in 2 wks – sort of that greek fisherman look.

    can’t wait to show you the pics…that is if my camera, which i lost on the last day, does actually get sent back to me.

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