Vanity - Dancing over the gap

Another follower and I were discussing the futility of make-up at the milonga. These days I can manage to keep mascara and eyeliner on - everything else is gone in about half an hour. So I don't bother with much else. Plus, when dancing close embrace, I can't imagine leaders would be all that thrilled to share my make-up. Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of my reflection and I ready myself to flinch. But then I realize there's rarely anything to flinch at. I look how I'm supposed to look. I'm happy with the flushed face and freckles. Why shouldn't I be, right?

It's only a surprise to me because I have more than a dozen years of training tell me that I should be unhappy. I'm a refugee from the beauty industry. Almost two decades as a makeup artist, more than ten years in the skin care field, and a year as a trainer. When I started in the industry, the most fundamental sales technique was instilling a constant and pervasive sense of dissatisfaction in clients. You're never young enough, smooth enough, toned enough, soft enough, radiant enough. The core "take away" from this (and so many other consumer industries) - You Are Never Enough - not as you are. You will always need something more to attain beauty. In fact, beauty is external to you - not something you are, but something you might be able "to get." (And right now we have a gift with purchase!)

When I was in the business, I was what's only half-jokingly referred to as a beauty junkie. A lemming. Whatever was new and hot, I had to have it. At the same time my own satisfaction with my looks, my worth, plummeted. So I worked harder. I blew away my sales goals. I ran up debt to fill the ever widening chasm between who I thought I was and who I thought I should be.

At my worst, there was very little of "me" that anyone could actually see from the outside. My hair was blond (or sometimes very red), I wore acrylic nails, false eye lashes.. you name it. Even when I left the industry and started working in the healthcare field, my picture of myself didn't heal. Now I'm a smart cookie. I "knew" better than that - I just didn't "feel" better. Intellectually I knew my worth wasn't wrapped up in my looks or my possessions - but it still felt like it was. My "self" was in retreat.

What I never expected was that my "self" just needed to dance. Dancing tango didn't just give me a way to "get beautiful" - by losing weight (though it did), improving my poise (also did) - but dancing tango made me feel like I was already beautiful when I arrived. That it wasn't external to me - but part of me and everyone else. Sounds saccharine I know. This should be on Oprah, shouldn't it?

I still have the ongoing battle in my closet over what to wear - what doesn't fit anymore, what doesn't look quite right on me. That's human. I fuss. I still fret over my looks. Then I go to the milonga and let it go. I'm too busy dancing to give it the energy. The gap between who I think I am, and who I want to be, is narrowing, and I'm dancing over the gap.

12 comments:

me said...

isn't it amazing how dancing brings you to realize how beautiful you are?

Mari said...

It is amazing. Especially because it shows me how beautiful everyone else is too. :) I still catch myself thinking, I could have started tango (and feeling better) ages ago!!! c'est la vie.

Johanna said...

The single most important lesson of Tango, that we are enough.

AmpsterTango said...

Your beauty manifests itself in the passion of your movement. No matter how simple, it turns into something magnificent, regardless of how you look. It's how you feel that makes THE difference.

On a lighter note... Make up on a woman in tango doesn't matter. Because, I end up wearing half of everyone's make up by the end of the milonga. My white handkerchief will attest to that.

Mari said...

Johanna - we should print that on t-shirts, or banners or something - that's a perfect summary.

Ampster - oh noooo - I learned early not to bother w/face makeup at all. You just reminded me of Miles Tangos' guide for the milonga, "please no glitter!!"

Elizabeth said...

Such wise words. Beauty has become many more things to me through my tango life. You articulate the transformative power so well.
Thanks,
E

msHedgehog said...

Freckles are nice. I never put makeup over freckles, when I have them. In a temperate climate they mean Summer.

Heresy said...

Lovely post, and lovely comments in addition to it!

Mari said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. For everyone who has encouraged me to feel valued and welcome and beautiful, I try to pay it forward as much as I can (and back when needed.) I know I owe a great debt to the men and women I've met online and in my community for this feeling I enjoy. We all "belong in beauty."

The Chocolate Bunny said...

An AMAZING post, I wish more women (and men) realized this. I was the same way. I was the type of person that couldn't leave the house without a full face of makeup on. And I still battle with it, but it's getting better.

But like the first poster said, dancing truly shows you how beautiful we are.

Keno said...

The beauty of a woman is what Tango is all about. For men its to feel the beauty inside the woman while dancing, When you meet that person for the first tango you are inducing yourself. The guy can not see what you look like he is experiencing how you are inside, the second tango is getting to know each other, you get to feel what kind of man you are dancing with and I get to feel what kind of woman I am dancing with. The third, forth, and if you are lucky, the fifth tango is to dance the passion of the music, and the beauty of each other together.

As for make-up, why do you think alot of men wear black, or dark shirts.I have a dark hankerchief I use this is the wonderful world of Tango. Best Keno

Mari said...

Keno - great description of a tanda. And I often wondered how men coped with the makeup all over everything issue.