Friday, January 6, 2012

It all started innocently enough...

It was December and a stack of unread women’s magazines had been piling up on the coffee table for months. I’d just been too busy to sit down and actually go through them with any regularity. But forces conspired one evening to give me enough time to put my feet up and go through the Allures, Marie Claires, and Luckys that had been piling up for months.

It was an old October 2010 issue of Lucky magazine that I found under the couch that started it all. It was a blurb that read simply, “Can a Sexy Haircut Actually Make Life Easier?” Once I stopped laughing hysterically, I read the postcard-sized paragraph underneath. Lucky’s marketing editor lopped eight inches of her hair off to create a shoulder length bob and… apparently changed her life for the better? The bob was cute, but nothing spectacular, in my opinion.

I thought that was the end of it. But that ridiculous question kept coming back to me: Can a haircut actually make life easier? Isn’t this the assertion that all women’s magazines make, in essence? With a new haircut, a new diet, or a new skin cream, we will all be transformed. We’ll be elegant and beautiful. And somehow, things will be easier. Or better. Or we’ll never get fat or old or die. Or something to that effect.

And that got me thinking… Is it true? Could you really make yourself happier by improving your outward appearance? Could you really make yourself more elegant and confident? Women’s magazines (and arguably society as a whole) would sure have us believe so. I seem to recall that Allure used to do a year long make-over to that effect. Participants worked out, lost weight, got new wardrobes, highlighted their hair, etc. for an entire twelve months with the implication being that they would emerge transformed at the end of the year, happier and more elegant than the supposed schlubs they started out as.

So what would happen? What exactly would happen if I got that haircut? And for that matter, if I did every other stupid make-over trick that these magazines push? Could someone like me be more confident? Would I really be happier? Would anyone even notice? And how does one achieve this end? If I bleached my teeth, started working out, cleaned out my closets, slapped a masque on my face, used the newest perfume, wore just the right shade of lipstick, and highlighted my hair? Would things really be that different? Would I drain my bank account? Would I get fed up with all of this self absorbed navel gazing? Would I be able to stand the superficiality of an experiment like this? Would I become a high maintenance nightmare? Wouldn’t I just be the same old person I always was but with an admittedly shinier veneer?

Maybe it was quarter-life malaise that was getting to me. Maybe it was the fact that I had just turned 30 and was staring down the next decade in my life. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for bloggers that experiment on themselves. Whatever the reason, that night sitting on the couch curled up with my stack of fluffy magazines, I was in an experimental mood. Could a general round of self-improvement really make that much of an impact? What if I did yoga, took my vitamins, went to bed early, started working out, and colored my hair before there were two inches of roots showing? What if I flossed my teeth regularly, stopped biting my nails, and actually figured out how to wear more than just the same old shade of brown eye shadow? Would I be a better person? Would I really be more confident, elegant, happy, and fulfilled? I’m skeptical but maybe I should find out.

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