When I was younger, I kind of self-identified as a Tom Boy. I hated the color pink. A typical outfit for me well past college would be jeans and a horse t-shirt. While I wore a little makeup to cover up breakouts or maybe mascara, many days I left the house bare faced and felt absolutely okay with that. Though I didn’t hate dresses or dressing up, I only did these things when I felt like it. They weren’t something I thought necessary in any way.

This relaxed and slightly masculine self identity wasn’t rooted in a hatred of pretty clothes or makeup. I actually love those things – especially now as an adult. Even pink has changed from something to avoid to a color that works with my complexion, and I’ve got a few pink shirts in my wardrobe now. Instead, it was a fear that I would be thought of as weak. Young Lauren associated dressing feminine and using a lot of makeup as a way to show weakness. In the society I grew up in, I seemed to get the clear message that women weren’t as strong as men and to dive head first into vanity meant that I accepted my position as less.

I wasn’t willing to accept that.

But now I’m older, and a little bit more aware of the world. Women have a long way to go in a lot of ways, from my beloved state of Texas trying to control my health to the fact that I can promise you I make less than my male co-workers with the same title and status within the company. These are facts I’m not proud of, but the things that will change them are my attitude and actions — not how I dress.

Because in this next phase of my life, I’ve kind of gotten into makeup. I like wandering through Sephora and spending more money than I should. For the first time in my life, I have preferences on what kind of products I like versus going to Target and arbitrarily throwing things in my basket I might end up using once a year. On a typical day, I won’t leave the house without primer, foundation, concealer, finishing powder, contouring, highlight, blush, eye shadow, mascara and lipstick.

But I don’t usually do eyeliner. Aint nobody got time for that.

So yesterday when I saw this image on my friend’s Facebook feed, I got pretty annoyed.

Depending on the day, I score between a 28 and a 38 on that little quiz. Which assuredly means I’m pretty high maintenance, right?

My friend (who is a lovely person that I genuinely like) commented as she shared this image that it’s no wonder men rule the world, possibly implying that women spend too much time on their appearance to break the glass ceiling (which really, I think means that men should feel more obligated to step up their own personal grooming but I digress…). In the comments, many women (and men) were commenting on how silly it was to do these things. I’m only a 3! Who would take a 30 minute shower? 

Now, this person is forward thinking, smart and someone who I would label as a feminist. She meant absolutely no harm by any of this, and also commented that it’s a personal choice to do or not do any of the items listed above… which I totally agree with. And when I say that the image annoyed me, it wasn’t her that bothered me. I believe her point in sharing this, is that she personally felt good about being free from beauty chores society told her she should do in the past. Plus, the spelling in that image is excellent and almost worth a share alone.

I guess it struck a chord in me, because things like this setup women to strike each other down. It’s like the impression I got from my childhood, that trying to make yourself appear glam or made up or super feminine is lesser. These ‘low maintenance’ people who don’t participate are inherently better than those who do. At least, that’s the argument it seems to begin.

In reality, high maintenance is an attitude versus a routine of personal grooming. I can get ready to leave the house in ten minutes or two hours. When in a group, I try to make sure everyone is happy and having a good time. I know how to compromise. Typically, I can go with the flow. I don’t consider myself high maintenance in the slightest – lipstick and all.

There’s really no right or wrong way to go about appearance, in my opinion. I have friends who never wear makeup and I have friends who wear it all the time. To me, they’re equally stunning.

Because the best thing we can do as women is to stop tearing each other down – for any reason. Regardless of how many points you score on that quiz, I think that’s something we should all agree on. What about you?

27 COMMENTS

  1. I’m pretty sure I’m high maintenance but I also don’t score well on this chart. Cuz I didn’t brush my hair today and only dusted on some powder and swiped on a little mascara. But I like horses yo and all the nice shit a girl could buy for them. I’m a high maintenance hunter princess and proud of it!!

  2. I feel the most comfortable in my own skin with makeup. I wear my hair up in a messy bun half the time (1 minute time frame), apply foundation, eye shadow, mascara, blush, bronzer and sometimes liner + eye brow defining. Then I dress. Takes me maybe 15 minutes tops on average, and double that if I’m going out on the town.

    I definitely don’t think make up or taking time to look your best makes one high maintenance, either. Be who/how you want to be!

  3. Different strokes for different folks! I don’t wear makeup or do my hair on a daily basis, and definitely don’t spend a lot of money on clothing and accessories. It’s just not something I’m interested in, though I do make the effort to not look like a complete hobo. Just because I’m “low maintenance” according to that chart doesn’t mean that I’m better than women who do spend a lot of time and effort on their hair, makeup, and clothes! It’s just a difference in preferences and interests. I think the things that can be accomplished with makeup and hairstyling skills are pretty amazing; they’re just not things I’m personally into.

  4. I’m philosophically opposed to make-up. Perhaps because I was brought up by a working single mom during the 70s first wave feminism. Perhaps because we were forbidden to wear it. Seriously, the nuns would make girls wash off colored chapstick.

    Anyway, I’ve seen brilliant work done with it, but I do not like the underlying message that you – I’m using the generic you here, not you personally – are not enough the way you are. Your hair needs to be a different color. Your lips need to be redder. Your eyes need to be bigger. … No. You are beautiful. You are enough. Own it. … Sorry, ranting.

    Anyway. I agree that beauty routine and attitude are unrelated. My morning ritual consists of making sure relevant body parts are covered. Yet, anyone who has ever met me has no doubt that I am high maintenance. I try to give good value, but yeah, exhausting to be around. Think Pinky Pie.

    Thanks for listening. As they say, you do you.

  5. I’m in a similar place–I never did anything “girly” because 1) I was constantly forced to as a kid and 2) then I was discounted as a less valuable human because of my non-male status. One of the things I’ve been addressing personally is finding what my comfort zone is with this sort of thing. I don’t like my adult life being based on a kneejerk reaction against the way I was raised.

    I dunno where I’ll end up, but I’m glad you’re on the journey too.

  6. I’m not remotely high maintenance based off of that scale or in my own opinion, but I have friends that like make-up, etc. I still own zero pairs of heels and whatever random make-up I grab at Walmart. 😉 A friend did buy me a fancy eye shadow palette for Christmas that I’ve been using a LOT since then, so I guess that’s a move in the right direction? hahaha

  7. To each her own! And I agree, grooming routines have nothing to do with a high maintenance attitude. The chart is dumb. Literally. They can’t spell. Maybe they need to get a little more high maintenance with their grammatical reviews.

  8. I agree whole-heartedly. I won’t get into the whole novel of thoughts I have on this topic, but long story short, I’m quite frustrated by the idea that to be “feminine” is to be high maintenance, and yet choosing not to be that definition of feminine makes you somehow less attractive. There’s no winning and it’s dumb.

    Maybe I want to wear a skirt and makeup and do my hair on Monday, but on Tuesday I’m feeling like pants and a ponytail. I am still the same person deserving of all the same things all week long.

  9. And then there I am, over 60. Whatever. I like makeup, I wear it everyday because I think it’s pretty and fun. I like doing my hair and having it done. I love my obscenely priced European shoe collection. But I also have two kickass degrees, know how to negotiate, can lay tile, grout, paint, do basic electrical work… they’re not exclusionary. The same way I can love watching surgeries and math and be a computer nerd. So sure, maybe I’m high maintenance, but so are Porsches and nobody has a problem with those.

  10. I am a three, but I think the idea of trying to criticize someone else based on the points they accrue on that quiz is some bullshit.

    Going further, even the idea of criticizing someone as “high maintenance” implies that people who are careful and particular and specific are somehow not worth the effort. Often, I find people who are clear and specific to be much easier than those who waffle or pretend not to have needs.

  11. I agree that high maintenance is an attitude. I don’t think the article was trying to criticize anyone though. Those quizzes are all over the place. They’re for fun. There can be a difference between a high maintenance attitude and a high maintenance (read: expensive) life style. The quiz leans towards the latter of the two. I think the line between the two could have been defined a bit better.

  12. I scored 3 if you count “hair is brushed” as “done”…but those are weird questions that don’t really apply to my situation. I’d be “high maintenance” in other areas for being disabled. In my mind, “high maintenance” more refers to the demands put on relationships with other people. So even though I don’t think my podunk town has a spa, and I could tan just by sitting near a window…I’d be “high maintenance” because I need help getting around and getting meals made, etc. Also, just because my hobby is not my appearance, doesn’t mean I don’t spend just as much time/money on it!

  13. I scored a 20, but my more than one outfit a day is generally attributed to spit up from baby…or working out, on a good day 😉

    By that chart, it appears motherhood stripped me of most of my high maintenance classified indulgences.

  14. I completely agree. While I still somewhat associate myself in the tom-boy category, I have worn makeup every day since high school, and because of my job, I feel obligated to have decent looking nails (although currently stained with Blue Lotion) and decent hair- but God didn’t gift me with hair that could roll out of bed and look at all attractive… more like electrocuted. Still, I don’t see myself as high maintenance. I see myself as a strong ass woman who lives life with a no-drama-llama kind of view, hangs with the guys, and attempts to look professional and sometimes (attempts at) sexy because that’s what I like. Those who think that’s high maintenance have the option not to hang, and you know what- that’s A-OK by me!

  15. I scored a 16. *insert laughing emoji* Thank you barn and veterinary hospital for making me appear low maintenance!

    I’m with you, but I have a somewhat different perspective: I was raised by four very strong women (my mom, two aunts and my grandmother) who all fought their way through life without the assistance of men, in a culture that on the outside pretends to be chauvinistic, but on the inside everyone knows is matriarchal. It has been so for centuries: Puerto Rican culture is very different from US culture in this way. Gender roles are the same as in the US at work but in the house it’s a very, very different story. Women rule the roost, period. No ifs, ands, buts about it.

    My grandfather came into our lives after my parents’ divorce and he simply reinforced the belief that a woman should be able to do everything a man does: excel at sports, use power tools, be able to fix things, take care of and train horses by herself, pour concrete, swing an axe, plant crops, and all sorts of male-associated skills. Factor in all the things that make a woman female as well, and a woman has *twice* the power. My tomboyishness was encouraged but the women in my family also led by example: go outside, work hard and get dirty, but remember there is also power in being able to dress up and go out looking the part of a lady, precisely because looking like a lady is often associated with being the weaker sex…and it is so *awesome* to surprise people by still being you: a strong woman with intelligence, opinions and snark that is still there even when you “prettify” yourself.

    I sweat like a guy, prefer to hang out with guys, can squat 1.5x my body weight, actually like bugs and reptiles, have an adrenaline junkie streak, spend half my life covered in dirt or nasty body fluids of some sort (yay veterinary job!) and generally live in sneakers or flip-flops. I have no qualms about going to the gym, the barn, the grocery store sans a drop of makeup…but I do wear ironed scrubs and just enough makeup to highlight my features for work: I’m representing a profession and don’t care to look like I just rolled out of bed. This is my way of showing my respect for my clients, my patients and my job: by looking the best I possibly can. So when I decide to strap on heels, put on makeup, and dress up to go out, watch out. I find it monumentally fun to be able to change from one extreme to another…in my mind it’s kind of like shapeshifting. I consider myself a feminist but you will find me rolling my eyes over avoiding gender roles because I love the dichotomy that comes with being a strong woman: it’s entertaining to deliberately embrace gender roles in order to flip them upside down and keep people on their toes. 😉

  16. Agree with you completely. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance. I think now more than ever men too are spending more time on grooming and what not. Does that make them sissies? No. They just care about putting their best self forward. There’s nothing wrong with that!
    I get very annoyed at the women who roll their eyes about fashion (or makeup, etc) because they’re feminists. You can still like things considered girly and be a strong, intelligent, successful person.They’re not mutually exclusive.

  17. Totally agree with Saiph! I used to play tournament paintball and I was usually either the only girl or one of a couple girls at all of the college tournaments I played at. I always wore pink (my favorite color) and wore my hair in braids so even with all of my gear on they could tell when they got shot by “the girl”. It was fun to be as girly as possible while showing the boys that there is no reason a girl can’t play such a male dominated sport.

    I’m impressed and a little envious of anyone who has the time and skill to have such an elaborate make up routine! Even on a “getting dressed up” occasion my make up takes all of 4 minutes.

  18. I read a really interesting article explaining how feminism is actually anti-women, because it devalues traditional female roles, like child rearing, and encourages women to be more like men, which is definitely not a pro-woman outlook, but most see it that way. Women do not have to serve the same roles as men to be worthwhile, equally important members of society. When women started entering the work force in troves, those who stayed home were seen as less valuable, which was ironically very pro-male. And now look at us? Many families require two incomes. Women are stuck in the work force and we must pay others to care for our children.

    So make-up and looking like a woman (or tom-boy) should have nothing to do with being feminist or high/low maintenance. I must confess, though, that I do not like make-up or hair dye and consider it a terribly unfair (and expensive) double standard. Our society is youth-obsessed, but mostly when it comes to the female persuasion. I don’t mind if my daughter’s decide to wear make-up one day, as long as they know that they are beautiful, not the make-up.

  19. I think the idea of being “high maintenance” suggests someone who is inflexible in requiring a specific level of grooming to feel normal. It suggests an attitude to me, one in which life revolves around you Vs going with the flow…I truly believe “committed to good grooming” is a different attitude than “high maintenance.” I think it’s admirable how some people are polished. If you want to spend two hours on your hair, I frankly admire that because I simply don’t have the patience. Most women I know don’t have time, interest and money to go full tilt every day, and probably pick up and put down some stuff depending on the season, their schedule, and their personality. Many women I know have their one thing they insist upon….the thing where their besties would call 911 if this wasn’t done. Whether it’s their nails being done or their legs being waxed, I think we all have our grooming GOTTA. For me, I’m fastidious about my skin lotions and potions and taking baths. But prior to a vacation, I get my eyebrows and legs waxed and nails/feet done. I get my hair cut and colored. I’m about as totally groomed as ever. I used to try so hard to be perfectly groomed and frankly got bored. It gives me more barn time 🙂 So kudos to you perfectly coiffed sisters.

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