Once upon a couple decades ago - and I can hardly believe I've gotten to the point in my adult life when I can refer to my adult life that way - I was an independent consultant with Mary Kay. I signed up for the discount because I liked the products and I didn't want to have to pay full pop. It didn't take me long to figure out that the discount becomes a moot point when you buy 3-4 times as much makeup as you'd ever be able to use before it goes bad.
When you joined Mary Kay way back then - I have no idea what it's like now - you were under a sales director (those were the women who drove the pink cars) who usually had regular meetings with their underlings to motivate and celebrate and whatever else seemed appropriate. It was also pretty common to discuss the rule that you never leave the house without being fully made up. If you wanted to be successful, you needed to look the part. It was a fair point for someone selling cosmetics.
And I bought into that rule for a while. Hook. Line. And sinker.
Then one day I probably woke up and knew that the only place I was going was the grocery store, and I really didn't need to wear makeup. I also didn't have aspirations to drive a pink car. I was in it for the discount.
A few months ago Jennifer Weiner posted a piece about the pressure to look good leading her to book botox appointments before television appearances and I'm pretty sure that's one pressure that I'm not ever going to succumb to. (Needles and I don't have a good relationship.)
I've dyed my hair in the past and it was okay, but the maintenance was more than I care to do on a regular basis. (Read: It was a pain and I hated it.) I grew the colour out as fast as I could and left my hair alone until the urge struck again. I can live with the ever-growing number of grey hairs. Well, until a few weeks ago when I decided I wanted to get highlights. It wasn't about covering up grey, because I don't care about that. I just wanted to do something different and fun. I really love the change I've made. We'll see how long I last. It's expensive and it means I have to go every three months for three hours. I am so not into that kind of high maintenance effort.
I definitely prefer to wear makeup when I'm out for more than just errands, because if I'm going to meetings or to work, I like to look a little livelier than the walking dead. Having fair skin has always made me appreciate the colour I get from makeup, but I wear it for me...not anyone else.
I am going to be discussing getting braces with my dentist - not because I don't like the way my teeth look, but because I screwed them up royally last summer and now my bite is a bigger mess than it was before. (My first dentist in Ottawa 14 years ago looked at my bite and said, "hmm...that's an interesting bite.") If I wasn't having genuine issues, braces and all the other expensive dental work I need would not be a consideration. And after finding out that I have to redo a root canal I had done a year ago, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to afford to do everything they're recommending. I've had a crappy bite forever, so why fix it now?
My bottom line? I'm only going to do something that changes my appearance because I want to do it. If Jennifer wants to go get botox because it feels good to her (something I find very strange, because...needles), go for it. If it makes her feel more confident and youthful, awesome. I wish we could all just be happy in our own skin, but we're also human. We see so many flaws in ourselves and we're clearly willing to go to great lengths to reduce or eliminate said flaws.
Let's not assume that everyone who takes steps to make changes is unhappy with their appearance, though. Sometimes, you just want to do something different and there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean the motivation has anything to do with real or perceived societal pressures.