what is beauty
I’m reading Katie Roiphe’s book of essays “In Praise of Messy Lives” and her literary criticism has me feeling, all at once, the thousands of reading hours I’ve lost in the past 7 child-rearing years. I suppose the solution is in reading now, and in praising my messy life that preventind all that page turning, but I get the feeling Roiphe would not allow that domestic mayhem within an ordinary marriage is truly, properly “messy.” I probably should have had dealt with substance abuse/had an affair/had children out of wedlock/ published a scathing cultural commentary . Oh wait, I did that last one, marginally disguised as a self-help book. But whoops, Roiphe’s got me there too, in a different essay—trite confessional memoir masquerading as plotline. I can’t win.
In losing, perhaps, I score? Maybe I will not recommend this book to other mothers who already score themselves too often.
Everyone knows about hanging wreaths and lighting candles, but there’s another holiday tradition that gets less press: Desperately Shopping for a Perfect Holiday Dress. This is no Millenial female habit either; Virginia Woolf’ wrote a searing short story The New Dress back in 1925, one I wish I’d read before hitting the mall, but I didn’t read, and I did shop, and so here’s a pic of the dress I bought in Hong Kong –the one I write about in the first chapter of the beauty experiment, the one that started the whole thing.
The holiday parties in HK were epic (new car giveaway anyone?), but I also bought this frock because I hoped its fabulousness would make me feel that everything was right with the world–and with me. To my horror and surprise, the dress failed me utterly— for some reason it just couldn’t solve all my problems between cocktails and dessert. Huh.
Sometimes, sparkly holiday lights can illuminate life’s imperfections. But what makes this season special isn’t the festivities as much as the warm fuzzies: you can’t beat a month of culturally-sanctioned kindness, generosity and untempered hope. It’s a feeling that’s probably better amplified by another classic holiday garment: the nutty sweater. When you wear something moth-eaten, weird, cozy and possibly bedazzled, you can’t help but showcase your inner beauty. So if it gets rough in the aisles of Nordstrom’s or TJ Maxx when you’re trying to nab a marked-down gold lamé gown, smile at your fellow shoppers and remember you can always:
- Borrow a friend’s dress
- Add a Santa hat to your LBD
- Wear a turtleneck under a sundress and trust in the universe’s sense of humor
- Learn a few elf jokes and show up in full regalia.
Wear ‘em if you got ‘em!