Does Keeping up The Illusion mean Keeping your Partner?
It was one of those perfect nights. I was liming in the gallery with my honey at the time. My boy was in full courting mode – small talk and sweet nothings passing with ease like the breeze rustling the leaves on the avocado tree.
Then, suddenly, every muscle in my body tensed. I was horrified, knowing immediately that the bubbling in my belly meant that I had to let one go, and it was going to be bad…like poop fart bad. (I’ll spare you the full description that you can find in the Urban Dictionary.) I tried to hustle my boy inside the living room, while I took advantage of a downwind, but this bout of gas had legs like Usain Bolt’s that ran it right to my boy’s nose.
That was the end – not of our relationship – but my charade as an illusionist.
Ladies…it starts off somewhat innocuous at first.
If you’ve practised one or more of the habits I just listed, you’re doing what most women think is necessary to keep their man…creating the illusion that you’re perfect. But you’re certainly not alone.
By definition, illusions distort reality. Women (and men) tend to habitually exhibit certain behaviours to achieve the distortion. For instance, how up front are you about your beauty and grooming practices? Are you bravely going to bed sans hair, teeth-whitening contraption in place, and a patchwork of calamine lotion on your face? And men, what about wearing a t-shirt because you’re in between back shavings.
…how up front are you about your beauty and grooming practices?
As little girls, we are first defined by “sugar and spice and everything nice”, and if we hold up our end of bargain, as pretty, delicate, preferably quiet things, we earn our good girl stamp. Then puberty steps in, ruining a good thing with its body hair, acne, and menstruation. We are conditioned often by peers that failing to manage the onslaught of changes taking over your body will mean settling for playing ring toss outside, instead of grinding against your first crush in the hall at a Fatima College bazaar.
No one taught me to pretend that I had goose bumps and not hair stubble…
I grew up watching my mother go grocery shopping with a full head of curlers, without a head tie, every weekend. Her rationale was that her hairstyle needed to be on point for the lime later – not the people in St. James Meat Cottage or Tru Valu. Made sense to me then…but then I grew up, and started inadvertently developing false pride, the kind of pride requires external validation to cover up feeling inadequate.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Toni Grant, a relationship guru and American psychologist, who may have schooled your mother, wrote a book called “Being a Woman, Fulfilling Your Femininity and Finding Love”. Grant purported that surrendering to passive femininity was the sure-fire way to keep and marry your “hero”.
So how does passive femininity relate to hiding to use your at-home waxing kit?
A well-loved ‘auntie’ in my life recently introduced me to the number-one lesson she learnt from Grant – never show a man your ass. In other words, if a woman wants to be successful in love, she should never reveal the trade secrets she employs to make herself look “fabulous”.
I couldn’t help but steups, inwardly of course (respect and manners). On top of everything else, we are expected to be these days – mothers, wives, lovers, winners of ‘bread’, and makers of the kind you can eat – we apparently have to be mistresses of illusion.
Although I didn’t want to admit it at the time, I quickly remembered I was guilty of my own version of charades over the years.
The danger with a thesis such as Grant’s or the lessons we inadvertently learn from the elder women in our lives is the basis of their argument. We are to please the men in our lives, regardless of the effect on our esteem. Our rituals of beauty become necessary and well-guarded secrets, as we feel unable to let our guard down, afraid of rejection.
Pop culture has also become an enabler. Increasingly, on television, and in movies, we see women who go to the extent of setting their alarm to get up early to apply make-up, fix their hair, and brush their teeth in an effort to appear presentable to their men who will be rolling over with halitosis and crusty yampee in their eyes.
For a modern perspective, I spoke to a couple friends about how far they go to maintain their illusion. Drea, a 32-year-old female in a long-distance relationship, told me of her struggle with maintaining perfection while dating during her twenties: “I felt like he would have expectations… shouldn’t have to see my flaws upfront. To me he always looked flawless, so I had to keep up with the game. It wasn’t until I entered my 30s that I felt I could say, ‘if you don’t like me as I am you can leave’. Yes, I have acne and cramps during my period. I’m human, female and I’m not perfect”.
When it comes to men and their views about their girlfriends, I was pleasantly surprised that they don’t care as much as we’ve been conditioned to think they do.
“I don’t care if I see (my girlfriend getting her hair done),” said Franco, 31. “I also love (to see her in) home clothes. I love to see how I will be seeing her for the rest of my life.”
When I asked him if a woman’s femininity is tied to her looks, he added, “No! It’s evident in her actions.”
The extent to which you decide to ‘keep up with game’ is a personal choice, but, you might find you’re keeping up with your own insecurities. The man in your life probably knows that your hair didn’t magically grow four inches overnight, and he doesn’t care.
I think it’s time we all relinquish our magician’s wands. With the right partner, you should feel comfortable in your skin. What’s more important than how your ass looks, when you show it, is who you show your ass to.
Image credit: thesupplanter.com