“Hey, your hair looks GREAT,” he said.
My face flashed hot as I fumbled for a response.
“Um, thanks? It’s ah, I er, wha…it does?”
I saw fear in his eyes.
“Didn’t you just get it done?” he said.
Suddenly my daughter and his daughter appeared behind me. We’d been standing in the doorway, waiting for his daughter to gather her things, and that’s when I got it. When my daughter called to invite his daughter over, I made sure everyone knew I was running late from an appointment. For my daughter, “appointment” means “highlights,” and she must have told them I was getting my hair done.
“Ohhh, no,” I said. “I wasn’t getting my hair done. I was at the doctor’s. But thanks for noticing my great hair,” I said, giving it an exaggerated Betty Rubble pat.
He laughed and went on to say that his wife (who happens to be one of the most gorgeous women I know) comments that he never notices her haircuts, so now he always compliments a woman who’s had her hair done.
“You are well-trained, my friend…and I mean that in a good way.” I said laughing and waving good-bye.
I shut the door and thought: well now, that was awkward.
It was silly. I was almost relieved by his benign intentions and yet, a teensy crestfallen that they’d been such a mistake. I realized it was the first time in near decades a (cute) man other than my husband had made a comment on — or even seemed to notice — my appearance. And for a nano-second, it was kinda nice.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any desire to be a MILF. MILFs eat salads. I prefer burgers. They wear lipstick, hoop earrings and bracelets. My biggest Saturday-night effort involves Burt’s Bee chapstick and the same fake gold studs from Kohl’s. Bracelets I pull out for Christmas and weddings only.
No, I don’t want to be leered at by the other dads at Family Fun Nite. That’s gah-ross. Further, if I overheard my husband telling some other woman how great her hair looked, I’d feel a bit sick.
But the exchange did give me pause. Once we get married, we are off the market –but does that mean we’re not to be noticed? Is married status the modern, suburban equivalent of wearing a Burka?
I don’t aspire to get compliments from other men, but over time, does that somehow contribute to a feeling of invisibility? Even though we strive for achievement in areas beyond our looks, when we go decades without a non-spousal compliment on our appearance, how does that impact our feelings of femininity?
Maybe that’s why we give our girlfriends so much feedback. “You look so skinny in that,” we say. “What a cute sweater!”
I don’t know what it all means. I’m not losing any beauty sleep over it. But with Valentine’s Day around the corner let me just say this — to all you great, funny, talented, intelligent, thoughtful, ambitious, compassionate, creative women out there: You are beautiful, and your hair looks great.