When people ask me how many children I have, I jokingly tell them I have 3 boys, though my last one has 2 X chromosomes. My daughter Laila exhibits many boyish traits, including asking for a super hero costume for her fifth birthday and having a boy as a best friend. It really shouldn’t be a surprise given she has two older brothers.
And, I’m generally cool with it. I wasn’t a big tea party or tutu wearing kinda girl growing up. But I did, and still do, love dress-up, make-up and clothes. My mom and I still bond over facials, manicures, and clothing shopping. And I know I’m not alone. The mother and daughter bonding that develops during beauty rituals runs deep. It’s no coincidence that the beauty shop has been a site for tremendous socializing and community building, especially in the African-American community. Sarah St. Lifer’s post about her mother’s influence on her nail polish choice (“Learning by Example: Why Mom Made Me a Red Nail Polish Devotee,” stylist.com) reminded me of this. The picture of her and her mother sitting so close and looking so happy while showing off their favorite red polish says it all.
I’m convinced something happens when people pay attention to their physical selves. As I’ve written in earlier posts, when we perform beauty rituals, we reconnect with ourselves and show ourselves a form of self-care and self-love. And when you do it in the presence of loved ones who are doing it too, I can’t help but think the serotonin kicks in and the sense of love overflows for self and others.
Laila and I are very close and we don’t necessarily need beauty to bind us. And part of me is glad I don’t have to deal (at least yet) with the downside of beauty, e.g., the unrealistic imagery, vanity and promiscuity evident in beauty imagery. But part of me hopes that she starts to cultivate a smidgen of interest in it too. I can’t help but imagine watching her try on different personalities or getting mani-pedis together, talking about personal issues or trying on different eye-shadows.
Still, I won’t push it … but I can always dream, right?