Friday, December 11, 2009
Not exactly low-maintenance: why I'm not a typical Seattle girl
I have been pondering lately why it is that Seattle girls are so frequently low-maintenance. The stereotypical Seattle girl wears jeans, super comfy if somewhat ugly shoes, Northface or similar jacket and not a stitch of makeup. In my rotations the past couple of weeks I saw a lot of women wearing very (suprisingly) stylish, work appropriate clothing, had good hair, but still not even a swipe of mascara. This phenomenon fascinates me. One of my friends from grad school (who is originally from the East Coast but has lived a number of years in Seattle) said she thought I was probably from the East Coast when she first met me because I didn't look like a Seattleite.
I was getting into my mom's makeup when I was very little (though she's never worn much makeup either so I don't really get it from her). From the time I was in 6th grade I have worn makeup almost every day of my life. I've gotten better as there was a time I didn't go anywhere except the gym without at least mascara. I admit I have applied makeup in a campground bathroom, worn it hiking, skiing, to the beach etc. now I will often run weekend errands to the grocery store, library etc without it, and skip it for the beach but that's about it. In the summer when I'm a little tan, I do wear significantly less makeup (it melts!) but I still do at least mascara and lip gloss, and most days a lot more. I probably apply 9 or 10 things to my face in the morning. I use mostly natural mineral makeup and except for my mascara I try to avoid parabens and other chemicals (I can't find an acceptable natural substitute for Diorshow mascara, sorry.)
It's not that I think I look horrible without it, but wearing it is so much a part of who I am I feel uncomfortably naked not wearing it. It's like a fun art project every morning I get to wear, and as a bonus it makes me look better. I love hanging around in Sephora playing with all the fun toys they have in there. Now that I think about it other women must be wearing makeup since Sephora hasn't gone out of business, but I don't see these people often. Only one of my childhood girlfriends regularly wears makeup-- everyone else will maybe wear it to a wedding or similar event.
I do feel a little weird sometimes being the only woman in the room with a full face of makeup. I was sitting in rounds at SCCA this week and looking around the room full of doctors, physician assistants, nurses and dietitians and not a one had even mascara on. No one I saw in a full day at UW Medical Center appeared to have any on either. It gets to be like wearing a cocktail dress and finding everyone else at the party is wearing jeans.
This phenomenon is very much a Pacific Northwest thing. When I went to college in Southern California I had the shock of my life when girls in my dorm got up really early to do their hair and put on tiny outfits before their 7am classes. I didn't really fit in there either-- I wore jeans and t-shirts every where instead of short skirts and heels. San Diego was bad enough-- I can't describe to you the extreme grooming practices of women in Los Angeles. The older women get the more they seem to be going for a plastic Barbie appearance, so I know it can go too far.
I'm not judging my fellow Seattle girls-- I know they could no sooner be comfortable wearing makeup every day than I would be not wearing it, I just wonder why we have this cultural phenomemon, and how I missed the memo when I was 12? Is it the rain? The outdoorsy activities? Water proof mascara does exist! Someone explain it to me.