“All work is honorable,” as Colin Powell has remarked. And yes, admittedly, I could use more humility.
That being said, remind me to wear lipstick the next time I’m doing laundry.
I got taken for a laundress again the other night. A young man came in with a full hamper. He said to me airily, “Is it all right if I leave my stuff here? I forgot my money. If it’s okay with you, I’ll be right back.”
I replied, “I don’t work here.”
His ears reddened as he stammered, “I thought I had seen you around the neighorhood and in here before.”
I exclaimed with incredulity at his effrontery and the weakness of his excuse, “You have seen me here! I do my laundry here! I live in your neighborhood!”
As I mentioned in an earlier post, clothes look terrible on me, so I dress somewhat more nicely than most people would ordinarily do for any given task. I was wearing Talbots casual and what I thought were fairly expensive shoes, at least for doing laundry. I spend twice what my coworkers do on their hair. I had turned the laundromat TV to Bloomberg, which I was sitting and watching with fairly close attention. In my pridefulness, I had imagined I had a prosperous sort of mien.
And still I was taken to be a laundry employee. The young man hadn’t even gone to the laundromat office to talk to the actual laundry lady; he saw me and immediately assumed I worked there.
This is far from the first time this has happened, nor the only laundromat.
There is no shame in being a laundress, if that is what you do for a living. But I am not a laundress, and it would be really nice not to be treated as what I am imagined to be.
I serve my bosses very well at work; and in the evening relaxing while the washing machine does the heavy work for me, I want to just sit and ogle Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg TV without random passersby treating me like I should be at their service, too.
My humility only goes so far. I know that if I had been wearing short shorts, or if I had been tapping on my phone, I would not have been treated so peremptorily. I am asking for only that much respect.
But I know my mistake: I wasn’t wearing makeup. My clothes and hairdo just weren’t enough. I should have been wearing at least lipstick.
There’s a reason makeup is nicknamed “war paint.” Some people claim they don’t like it when a woman wears makeup; what they actually don’t like is too much makeup. In particular, they don’t like eye makeup. People treat me better, much better, when I’m wearing lipstick and blusher.
Women in power know this. If you want to be treated with respect, it doesn’t matter what ought to be the case, or what is fair treatment of women compared to men; you need to wear at least lipstick.
All of this stupidity makes me want to run out and buy more makeup.
For years, I have wanted to buy Mac lipstick in Russian Red and Nars blusher in Orgasm. These are two of the most famous shades of makeup currently on the market, possibly the most famous shades. I have wanted to satisfy my curiosity– are they really as good as people say? What is the reason for the buzz around these two top sellers in their lines?
Russian Red is supposed to look good on any woman and dress up any outfit. Orgasm is supposed to make a woman look like she has just had one, which apparently is appealing. It, too, is supposed to look good on any woman.
Maybe these two shades would keep people from treating me as if I should be serving them.
But there is no sense in this. My everyday wardrobe has five blushers and fifteen lipsticks, all from the same brand, Mary Kay, to which I am loyal because of its dependable quality and reasonable price. That may seem like a lot of shades, but I use all of them, because I wear makeup to work every day and I enjoy my war paint. Every one of these colors has its own place in my wardrobe, just as every shirt does. But more would be overkill even for me. A lot is a good amount for me, and my ascesis is not to buy too much.
It is just insecurity that makes me want to give in to my years-long curiosity and buy Russian Red and Orgasm. It isn’t that my arsenal is inadequate; it is that I was unarmed that night in the laundromat.