Upon Maturity and Hair Product

I talked to my mom last night over google’s version of Skype.  (What a nonsensical sentence.  Imagine reading that 15 years ago.)  I was sitting in my most comfortable old sweats, which double as pajamas.  We were discussing hair products, and, as she tends to do whenever I share any of my discoveries in the beauty and personal hygiene department, she reminded my of my absolute refusal to take any of her advice in the same area as a teen-ager.

I spent my teenage years in the Pacific Northwest while grunge was king.  Using gel to spike your bangs in the late nineties was a sin that would only have exacerbated my adolescent inability to procure Doc Martins or speak normally enough to meet the approval of peers, but this is an argument I gave up on years ago.  I think I started to say something to disengage, and she said, “I know, I know, you’re a different person now.”

I had a very visceral reaction to the statement, beyond even my typical (slightly adolescent?) overreaction to everything my mom says.  I wanted to yell “No I’m Not!” and slam the computer shut.  I didn’t, of course, because in spite of my desire to deny the observation, I actually have grown up a bit since I left home at 17.   I suppose I want the people who know me best to see through the layers of  “maturity” and “professionalism” that I feel like I’ve slathered on like pancake makeup over the contrarian, leather-jacketed little punk from undergrad.  Of course, I’m not sure that jacket was any more than another layer of protection for an over-vocablularied nerd from a very small town.

So what, I wonder, has changed so much about me that my mom thinks I’m a different person?  Fifteen years ago I spent hours trying to look like I spent no time on my outfits and hair.  Ten years ago I stridently protested any concession to societal demands and flew my unique-freak flag high, while eating nothing but nonfat cottage cheese and celery in an effort to gain the ideal actress body type.

So what’s changed?  Acceptance, I guess.  I’m still putting on what I want people to see.  The difference is that now I put on the makeup and the suit and I can admit it’s to project an idea; a construct to convey a truth.  I am, in fact, capable, professional, honest and smart.  I am all of these things while in my pajamas.  But the cultural dictate is that no one is going to believe it unless I wear lipstick and tame my hair.

So, I suppose I’m not so different.  Except that perhaps now I  have greater appreciation for the people who know me in my pajamas.