Having recently moved, and finding myself with a ridiculous amount of downtime now that I no longer have roommates to sit around the house with, I decided to join a local gym to try to get in better shape. What I thought would be a quick and painless internet search turned out to be frustrating and disappointing. And what started out in my head as mild annoyance somehow morphed into this angry rant about society’s ridiculous standards, the shallowness and willingness to conform of people in general, and the realization that we spend a LOT of money on kind of pointless things in order to fit into those supposed ideals.
Perhaps I’m just misunderstanding, but I fail to see why most gyms seem to think the offer of “unlimited tanning” justifies charging quadruple what my old gym charged for the use of essentially the same exercise machines. Sure, my old gym was part of a national chain, which probably helped keep prices low, but still, is there really any incentive to joining a pricey independent gym when their major selling point is something I don’t plan to ever use? I don’t even know anyone who tans at the gym. Is this ‘incentive’ really something that works in their favor? I wanted a gym membership so I could kill some time, get in better shape, and live a healthier life. And, if I’m being totally honest, possibly be more physically attractive to members of the opposite sex. And perhaps tanning would also help in that regard, but maybe I’m naïve enough to believe there’s someone out there who isn’t turned off by my paleness and whose attraction to me isn’t based on my willingness to intentionally expose my skin to potentially cancerous rays. And quite frankly, I’m a little insulted that multiple gyms in my area are implying that there’s something wrong with being pale and that joining their expensive “fitness” center is a bargain, what with all the ‘free’ tanning I could be doing. Here’s a little tip for them: getting a tan does NOT help you stay fit. Also: overcharging for the gym membership doesn’t exactly make the tanning free…
So, having decided to not join a gym because my wallet cannot afford to be raped like that every month, and also because I don’t want to end up looking like an old leather wallet on the advice of these so-called fitness experts, I kind of got to thinking about other things that people willingly spend a lot of money on in order to alter their appearance. I’m gonna be honest here, I’m a little disgusted by how much money I spend on such things, and I still think I’m on the low end of the spectrum.
For example, I’m all for having pretty fingernails (and I also think women have no business wearing sandals with unpainted toenails because: ew), but I’m the type of girl who buys a bottle of nail polish and paints them myself because I am far too ‘frugal’ to pay someone to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself. But I know plenty of women who pay to have their nails done at the salon. That’s around $40 every week or two for a manicure and pedicure. Do you realize how quickly that adds up? Sure, it’s nice to feel pampered every once in a while, but it’s also nice to have some money in the bank.
And then it occurred to me that there is one thing I spend a ridiculous amount of money on at a salon and if you’re my brother and you’re reading this, you can go ahead and skip to the next paragraph because this totally falls into the TMI category… Waxing. You know… down there. Everyone has their personal preference, but I for one am not a fan of the “landing strip” because my vagina does not need what looks like a Hitler ‘stache, nor do I feel that airplane metaphors are particularly appropriate when referring to genitals that don’t have an inordinate number of ‘arrivals and departures.’ So if I’m gonna get waxed, it’s going to be all the way, and that is not cheap. Anyone who has ever shaved anything knows that the effects only last a day or two, and that when the hair grows back, it itches. And there are some body parts where it is simply not acceptable to scratch in public and for that reason waxing is a brilliant alternative. The results last an entire month, which is great, because you’ll need to wait for your next paycheck before you can afford to get it done again, anyway. Sure, it still itches when the hair grows back, but at least it’s not every few days.
And speaking of hair, I started thinking about how I used to spend $80 twice a year on haircuts. My last two haircuts involved me angrily hacking off a few inches in my bathroom with ordinary scissors because I couldn’t stand the length of my hair anymore. I mean, it’s just hair, right? Who the hell cares if it was cut by a professional? I probably should care, because hair is definitely something people notice, but again, if someone dislikes my hair so much that it alters their opinion of me, they’re probably not someone I need in my life. Hair is, in fact, the fourth thing I notice when I meet a guy (eyes, teeth, shoes, hair. In that order, in case you were wondering), but unless his hair is particularly awful, it’s not a deal-breaker. Come on, guys, those hats aren’t fooling anyone, and you know what? We don’t care. So you’re going a little bald, it’s not a big deal to anyone but you. And I guess that’s what it all comes down to: feeling good about yourself. If throwing a hat on over your insecurity makes it easier for you to go about your day feeling like a million bucks, far be it from me to stop you.
I just wish society wasn’t always implying that you have to be a certain way in order to feel good about yourself. Do what works for you. If spending a lot of money on a particular thing makes you happy, keep doing it, but only because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. If you find yourself sticking uncomfortable contact lenses in your eyes every day because the societal implications of wearing glasses are that you’re a nerd, keep in mind that some people like the look of ‘nerdy’ glasses. If you get up a half hour early every day to put on makeup because people might think you look ‘plain’ without it, not because you actually enjoy or want to wear it, keep in mind that some people appreciate a more natural look. Even if society does have all these superficial rules, it’s important to remember that there are exceptions to every rule, and I for one see nothing wrong with being exceptional.
So what it all boils down to is that I won’t be joining a gym any time soon, I have an awesome nail polish collection, my vagina is not a runway or an angry German dictator thankyouverymuch, and my hair might look like crap, but my insecurity-hiding push-up bra and I are on the road to higher self-esteem based on my own terms. And that feels great.
Authors Note: …And then an internet-less month or so passed between when I wrote this article and submitted it for publication, during which I got the most adorable professional haircut. Sometimes expensive crap is totally worth it. Just sayin.’ 😉