The Cost of Maintaining Appearances

On the subject of the importance of appearances, there are two camps people usually fall into. On the one side people say it´s important to look nice and do your hair, and that makeup is part of basic hygiene, along with things like deodorant and perfume. They say that by taking pride in your appearance you are putting your best foot forward, and you show the world you care about and respect yourself. In the other camp, people say “don´t judge a book by its cover” and to judge by the content of one´s character and work, and not by what they look like.

I generally fall into the second camp. I don´t jump to conclusions based on what people look like, except if they´re all dolled up. Then I know they´re the kind of person who falls into the first camp. Haha.

Having said that, I know it´s a fine line to tread. I teeter on it daily. I want to be judged by my work and my actions and my thoughts, not my clothes, hair, or makeup. Until this job started in January, I had never worn makeup before. You read that right. Maybe a little lipstick to attend a wedding, but really it depended on whose wedding it was. #justkeepingitreal Of course I shower daily, always wear fresh clothes, and attempt to tame my hair (read Kay´s reasoning for not brushing her hair here). But I´ve never cared for pretty shoes, trendy clothes, designer handbags, highlights in my hair, or makeup. That´s just never been me.

Well, “until January,” I said. In my mind, part of having this fancy corporate job is looking the part. You might recall, when I got the job I updated my long-outdated wardrobe, and I bought some makeup. This was uncharted territory for me, but I made a commitment to start wearing makeup every day. Why? I´m still not sure.

When I made this decision, I went to Bare Minerals because I wanted the lightest thing possible. The beautiful gay man there thought I was lying when I told him I had literally never applied foundation to my face before. “Why?!” he asked with unbounded incredulity. “Because I´m beautiful the way God made me?” I managed to squeak out. He did little to hide his disbelief, and quite frankly disdain for me as he showed me how to apply a primer, foundation, “warmth” (rouge), and “mineral veil.” I bought the starter pack for a painful $50, but couldn´t wait to rush home to wash my face. Already this felt like I had this thick gunk all over me and I couldn´t ignore it.

My mom insisted I buy eye primer from MAC, which is actually quite beautiful, though expensive, at $24 for a teeninesy tube. I couldn´t bear to buy a palette of eye shadows from there, so I headed to CVS and bought a few that suit me just fine, along with a new mascara, totaling $45. As I tried to wash my face with soap and water like I normally do, I realized all this gunk wasn´t really coming off, and that I needed to buy makeup remover towellettes. Gah. Those things are expensive! $12 for the pack.

I take wayyy more selfies now than I ever did before.  The makeup is just so weirrrrd.

I take wayyy more selfies now than I ever did before. The makeup is just so weirrrrd.

Now I´ve been wearing makeup every day since January. And you know what? I look frickin photoshopped! I mean, I look good, but I feel like I hardly look like a person! It´s weird. You know what else? I break out all the time. I feel like my anger about the situation is self perpetuating, and spilling out through my pores. I never had acne, even when I was a teenager. This is new to me, too. I guess in time I´ll get used to it all.

My total for this very basic makeup starter set= $131! Ouch.
My point is: maintaining this look is expensive!

You know what else is expensive?

Getting my car washed all the time. My dad always told me not to get a black car because it would always look dirty, but I got a black car anyway. Aaaand he was right. Living in the rainy, pollen-y, swampy Louisiana lands, yeah, it always looks dirty.

Back home I would wash my car every 6 weeks or so. Here, I wash it every week. “Why??” you ask. Because I´m staying with C and M and they live in this super fancy neighborhood. Along with having a beautiful golf course in your back yard comes a super aggressively involved HOA. The HOA has its own social networking site on which they post pictures of HOA policy violations. I was already afraid that C and M would get in trouble for having my car always parked on the street in front of their house. They haven´t said anything yet, but I feel like the least I can do is always keep my car clean.

The nice car wash I was using back home was like $20 each time, but no way can I swing that on a weekly basis. I´ve found a discounted Sunday-only car wash for $6, and even though it´s not great, it does the job. Even still, I´m now paying $312/yr for car washes, as opposed to my previous $174.

My point is: maintaining my car´s look is expensive!

And so I ask you, dear reader, at what point do we draw the line? At what point do we say, “the quality of my work is just as good, regardless of the shimmer on my face!” and “you should respect me more for having a dirty car. This means I´m not the kind of person who wastes their money on car washes all the time.”

I´m not sure. I still feel like if I´m stepping into a boardroom to present my work to leadership, along with having clean, pressed clothes comes the face and the hair. And along with the seven-bedroom houses come the sparkling cars. Period.

And I just don´t know how to feel about it. I´m so torn.  And I´m not fishing for compliments, here.  I know I don´t need makeup to be “pretty,” but do I need it to look presentable?  To be a respectable adult??

What do you think? Do you think wearing makeup and having nice clothes are important? Are you embarrassed to be in a fancy place if your car is dirty?  Talk to me! 🙂

8 thoughts on “The Cost of Maintaining Appearances

  1. I also work in a business environment, albeit it’s pretty casual. I wear eye make up but no foundation because it gives me break outs, like you. If I’ve got an event to go to or I’m going out to a nice restaurant, I’ll do the whole foundation routine. I’ve spent about $17 on makeup (eyeliner from Sephora) so far this year, and I’ve found that my supplies don’t run out too fast.

    I try to make up for it in cheaper ways like making sure my eyebrows are in good shape and spending money on infrequent hair cuts. Having well washed and cat-hair free clothing is free, once you buy the clothing that is.

    For the car thing though, I get SO embarrassed when someone gets into my car and I realize that it’s filthy. Usually I don’t notice myself, so I’m generally mortified when I realize how dirty it is once someone else is riding in it. I wash my car myself, and it’s free!


    • You’re right about supplies not running out quickly. This $131 I mentioned was an initial investment. The only thing I’ve had to rebuy has been those makeup remover towelettes.


  2. tee heeeeeeeeee, HOA’s, I’m not a fan! I’ve never lived in one until now and I feel like they are always watching to see if you commit an infraction. The price of nice surroundings. Pleh. I’m like you. I like to be free to be barefaced, and barefooted, and let my car be natural too! And I don’t care if you’re not fishing for compliments, you ARE lovely, fresh faced and all! 🙂 P.S. Thanks for the mention, but after 2 short days of that experiment, I was back to combing my hair. Epic fail! :\


  3. Well I hope this doesn’t sound creepy but you have very nice skin in that picture! Very smooth. My old ass is jealous. lol! You CAN get less expensive makeup and I think it does the job just as well, but I totally get where you’re coming from and struggle with the same thing. One case in point? My hair! I have to get it cut about every 8 weeks because I am 44 and have fine, stringy hair, so it looks terrible longer than my chin. Unless I’m going for a hippie old lady look. Around here it’s expensive! Not only does it just look terrible, I kind of feel terrible and unconfident when my hair is limp and stringy, so getting it cut makes me feel good as well. But my budget is ultra, ultra tight right now so it’s a tough call. The same with clothes. I really could use some new threads but it’s hard to justify because of my budget and working from home. But at some point I’d like to date again and I don’t feel remotely pretty in my current clothes. I own more workout clothes than nice ones…so maybe I’ll meet a guy working out? hmmm. Anyway, I totally get what you’re saying and have no idea what the answer is. I guess everyone needs to decide for themselves, but we should try and stop judging each other when someone is not dressed to the nines like someone else. Now maybe if they haven’t bathed in a week…. 🙂


    • First of all, thanks! But that skin effect is the photoshopped look I’m talking about! It’s crazy!
      And secondly, I think you make an excellent point. Maybe looking good or bad or whatever doesn’t matter, but your confidence level does. I’m much more in favor of spending money that makes you feel good about yourself, over spending money that makes others like you just because of the way you look.
      And lastly, you could TOTALLY pick someone up at the gym! You’re strong and fierce as hell! Totally impressive 🙂


  4. I am big on makeup and keeping my hair looking flawless. Remember that your starter make-up kit is always expensive up front, but you will be just replacing items here and there and won’t ever spend that much money again. The important thing to remember is to never sleep in your make-up. I try my best to wash my face and moisturize as soon as I get home to give my face a rest until the next morning. You may have to find the right brand also that suits your skin type. From the pictures above I agree with Tonya that it looks great.


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