Girl Knowledge


Several years ago, I was having lunch with two girlfriends. One was a no-makeup, Birks-and-jeans boho gal. The other was a consummate athlete who ran and biked all summer, ran and skiied all winter, and seldom wore anything flashier than a simple silver necklace. We chatted away about our husbands, our hobbies, movies we’d seen, new local restaurants, short- and long-term life goals. Then, somehow, the conversation turned to matters of grooming, and eventually the two of them were trading tips about the best place to get a Brazilian and great spots for cheap pedicures.

At the time, I’d only ever had one pedicure; On my wedding day, six years previously. And the possibility of getting a Brazilian had never even entered my mind. I was a little stunned to find that these two women – both of whom confessed to being extra nervous before meeting me, fearing I’d declare their fashion choices unacceptable – were in possession of girl knowledge that was utterly alien to me.

My first realization: Despite my best efforts, I had made some assumptions about my friends based on their appearances and lifestyle choices. These two gals claimed ignorance in my preferred area of girliness.  I was frankly surprised to hear that they both possessed expertise in equally mainstream areas of girliness, and ones that were outside my own realm of experience.

My second realization: My lack of exposure to pedicures and Brazilians made me feel … behind. Like I’d missed out on some key lessons that might result in getting kicked out of the club.

And yes, I realize that getting a wax job and paying others to paint your toenails are not measures of womanhood. And yes, I ALSO realize that womanhood can’t actually be measured. At all. By anyone. But the experience made me realize that my ideas about myself as a woman were much more fluid than I’d realized. I was surprised to find myself feeling so excluded and inexperienced, so comparatively green. It was like getting jolted back to middle school when the whole world revolved around girl-to-girl comparisons.

And although the incident lodged in my mind as fascinating and worthy of examination and discussion, I didn’t attempt to play catch-up. I’ve since had a few pro pedicures, but they weren’t reactionary. And getting a Brazilian … still not interested. Interesting to note, though, that girl knowledge is both pervasive and evasive, even to adult women.

Image courtesy Erica Schoonmaker

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75 Responses to “Girl Knowledge”

  1. Cynthia

    Hmm. No, I’m a totally terrible girl. The main things I’m expert at are gender nonspecific or male-dominated — scientific research, mentoring students, giving lectures. I am totally OK with that and in fact a bit proud that what I’m good at is NOT knowing where to get my girly-bits waxed.*

    However, in dating relationships I’ve noticed that it often falls to the woman to come up with ideas for entertaining things to do, and I am fabulous at that. I know where the good restaurants and bars are, how to identify movies that aren’t going to suck, where live bands are playing, where we can go on a hike that won’t leave anyone dead, etc.

    *Also, I am offended by the intersection of porn and consumer culture that seems to exist in men’s brains these days and makes them expect that women (even 40ish college professors) should be waxed like a stripper. Um, no. Je refuse.

  2. Beth @ To the Fullest

    I have felt this way many a time. Especially when I was in high school, hearing other girls talk about stuff like waxing of all types, going to the gym (my parents were — and are — avowed couch potatoes), the fact that there are more kinds of underwear than what’s made by Haines, and so forth. I felt very, VERY left out, and left behind. Thankfully, like you, I’ve grown enough to know that I don’t want any part in Brazilian waxes, no matter how left out that might make me feel in the moment.

    Thanks for this post! You got me thinking, which isn’t always easy to do at 5:45 in the morning!

  3. Fer

    I feel like that all the time. people usually think I’m very girlish because I take interest in clothes and shoes and bags, but actually I feel more like a tomboy than anything else. Because:

    1. I’m not interested in make up;
    2. I couldn’t care less about jewelry (I’m the only woman I know who doesn’t like to wear earrings, for example);
    3. Even though I like clothes and shoes and bags, I only have a very marginal interest in Fashion Weeks (i.e., I browse some of their pictures very quickly long after they’re done);
    4. I don’t wear perfume;
    5. I have no idea what kind of beauty products will make me look gorgeous;
    6. I dismiss most fashion’s dos and don’ts on a daily basis.

    That’s why I usually feel like an alien when talking to girlfriends about any subjects other than clothes and shoes and bags.

  4. threegoodrats

    I’ve had a pedicure exactly once in my life. I’ve had my eyebrows waxed a couple of times, but that’s it for professional hair removal. The only personal grooming I pay for is my hair, and I do go to a good salon. I do sort of feel a bit out of it, but I’m just not interested in those things, nor do I wish to spend money on them. The only thing I’m somewhat interested in doing better is makeup, but so far I haven’t put the time or effort into that. Maybe someday.

  5. Bethany

    I still can’t figure out how to blow-dry my hair with a brush! But I do feel that I am an expert in hair coloring. I refuse to spend over $100 to let someone else slop chemicals on my head, when I can do it myself for $10! I have done a lot of research into base colors, skin tones, and the like, and have become a ‘consultant’ of sorts for my friends!

  6. Andrea

    I think my situation is somewhat unusual. I’m a hairstylist. All my friends feel I am an expert in all areas of girl knowledge. In terms of girly procedures, I am. If I haven’t had them performed on me, I have performed them on someone else, even if the last time was 15 years ago in beauty school. However, I can not accessorize to save my life. If I didn’t have a pearl necklace that I inherited from grandma and my wedding ring, I’d have no jewelry at all. I also don’t know how or where to shop for clothes because I sew everything I wear. If I needed an outfit for a last minute occasion, I’d be lost.

  7. Xidia

    I usually get caught out the other way around. I don’t see myself as particularly girly: I spent most of childhood and teens on the tennis court, in the stables or hiking over moorland. However, I’ve introduced several friends to the bliss of spa treatments, I can competently blend 4 shades of eyeshadow for a perfect smokey eye (but rarely bother!) but I don’t remember where I learned/discovered such things. Osmosis? That said, I do now make a point of trying out spas when I travelling, from the luxury of Raffles in Singapore to the basic hamman in Petra, Jordan simply because I like the contrasts.

  8. Meg

    Oh my gosh, I know next to nothing about makeup. I read all these blogs and articles that assume I put it on, every day, before I even leave the house to do anything. I haven’t worn makeup for anything but special occasions since I turned 14 (I applied makeup daily when I was 13, but I got bored with it). When I do wear cosmetics, I usually apply them at work during my lunch break and feel ashamed, like I should have my ovaries revoked or something for not finding the time to put it on at home. I’ve finally taught myself to apply a few products to make a cute, natural look, but everytime I try to apply eyeliner I feel like an insta-hooker.

    No Brazilians, ever. I went with a friend once for moral support, and I’m pretty sure she cried. Or screamed. I’ve tried my best to forget the whole incident. 😛

    I’ve not really borrowed clothes from other girls. I feel like I was supposed to do that a lot, or something…

    I do love a good pedicure, though (not manis, though – those I wreck within 15 minutes), I’ve been dying my hair since I was 12, and I have a huge nail polish collection and a lot of clothes. I think everyone has certain “girly” things they’re comfortable with (guys included! though those might not be appearance-related), and others they’re not. Though some girls walk around, looking so immaculate, I feel like they must have taken a course that was available while I was sleeping in instead of doing my makeup. 😉

  9. Casey

    I had to chuckle when I read this… I’ve only had one pedicure in my life and never had a wax job either! lol. I think for me the biggest reason I have felt a bit out of the loop about these things is because these things were an option as a teenager or young adult (I just couldn’t afford a pedi often on a student-job! lol.), nor did many of my friends do these things. So it’s always been a bit of a mystery. Sometimes I do put myself out on a limb and try one of these quintessentially “girly” things, but I don’t ever feel like they really define me as a woman. However, it can be awkward when you’re in a conversation with other women about these things and feel left out! lol.

    ♥ Casey

  10. Miss T

    I’m a very girly-girl and always have been: makeup, pretty clothes, jewelry, high heels. And yet I feel those same feelings you describe about being “left out” probably because the list of “requirements” for femininity seems endless. . . I am occasionally aware of things I don’t do: manicures and pedicures, facials, faux tans, etc. and I feel totally inadequate, even unfeminine, for a few moments. But we shouldn’t let these feelings drive us crazy, because other women have the same feelings revolving around a *different* list of “requirements” that they don’t choose to embrace. Can’t do them all.

  11. Stephanie

    Not really an answer to the question but I do think some of it is just life experience. Not only did I have my nails done for the first time the day before my wedding but so did my mother. Not her wedding but mine. In contrast my 3year old daughter has been with me several times. The place I go has a good price for kids and super adorable little chairs. Parts of her life will just be different then mine. Not better just different.

  12. Cricket

    I have a really amusing memory of being at bar on girl’s night out with maybe half a dozen girls. And one girl, we’ll call her Pixie, was discussing how she didn’t like her eyebrows. We all chimed in about waxing vs. tweezing vs. threading and who to go see in town. Pixie looked at all of us and said, “But you guys all have perfect eyebrows, why would you wax or tweeze?” I think we all just stared quietly at her for a second before it finally sank in for her that we had good eyebrows because of the waxing and tweezing.

    After that I spent some time thinking about girl knowledge and what I had and what I didn’t. I always paint my little sisters nails for her when she’s visiting as I have a very steady hand and she’s never been able to paint her own tidily, just different skill sets we have. Plus it’s nice bonding activity to do with friends (and sisters), sort of intimate to paint their nails for them, allows you some closeness and quiet time to talk since you can’t do anything else while the work is being done.

    I’ve always wonders about the Brazillian thing. I’d never do it because waxing my legs occasionally gives me ingrown hairs and discomfort and I definitely think that’s not discomfort I would want to risk in my more delicate areas. However, I do (or rather did) have my arms waxed for a long time. I was once getting ready to go to an appointment for such and my mom commented that she couldn’t understand why anyone would have their arms waxed (she’s literally nearly hairless, she shaves her legs once a week! wish I had those genes) and I pulled up my sleeve and showed her my arm and she said, “Oh, well, in that case, yeah, I guess you would.” A couple years of regular waxing seriously reduced the length, thickness and density of hair on my arms to a level I can live with. But again, it’s a girly beauty thing that would never cross someone else’s mind!

    P.S. I only recently discovered your blog and I LOVE it. Although all your gorgeous boots do give me fits of jealousy periodically.

  13. Eternal*Voyageur @ Venusian*Glow

    Absolutely ! It´s like each one of my friends has their own area of expertise. Recently a moment where I felt really inexperienced was a talk about nails. I´ve never had a professional manicure, and the only time I pay attention to my nails is when I chew them. I felt like a kid with my short, plain nails besides these ladies with beautiful, cared-for nails.

  14. Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy

    I feel like the majority of my female friends get manicures/pedicures on a regular basis and also get waxed regularly. Sometimes I feel weird being the odd one out since I don’t really enjoy getting manicures or pedicures and the thought of getting waxed anywhere except for my eyebrows freaks me out. I’m also a huge money saver too though, and it definitely works in my favor! All in all though, I don’t think anyone really cares that much in my group so I just do what I want to and don’t really feel any pressure to do differently.

  15. Mandy

    I totally missed that day in 5th grade when they taught all the girls at once how to style their hair. I swear, one day we were all in pigtails, and the next day the girls were laughing at me because my hair was tangled. I still don’t know how to style my hair, but have found a good hairstylist who understands my hair type and gives me a good cut that looks decent even if I just let it air dry.

  16. AW

    I cut my own hair for many years, so I was very much left out of the going-to-get-my-hair-done scene. I still managed to feel like a woman. And I had more money to spend on clothes.

  17. Lisa B-K

    Well, there was the time 2 years ago that a friend was talking about Manny and Petty and I was like, wait, who are Manny and Petty? and she looked at me, blinked, blinked again, waggled her fingers at me, and then I realized what she was talking about. She wasn’t particularly girly or groomy-looking, but as you noted, there’s always more going on with people than we think.

  18. Jenny in NC

    Once I was chatting with some church friends about our jobs in the technical industry. Another lady listened for a long time, then laughed and said, “Hey, where are all the ladies who like to talk about recipes and cooking?!” I still feel way behind in the home making arts.

  19. Stacey

    I have definitely felt that way. A small town girl, surrounded by women in my family that could be described as country women that never wore dresses or a lot of make-up. When I entered into the business world I wondered how women learned to put lipstick on and what outfits to wear. I still have not mastered wearing lipstick and am always fascinated by women that I view as completely put together and classy, a look that I have been trying to capture. I also learned about Coach purses, how did they know about them? Pedicures were introduced to me and I was in awe, got my eyebrows waxed and I was amazed. Like you, I am not interested in getting the Brazilian. I also never learned to braid hair or fix hair, my daughter never got her fixed as I didn’t know how 🙂

  20. SarahN

    There are so many other ways I’d rather spend three hours than sitting in a salon! Who has the tolerance for that much gossip? And you can only look at so many women’s magazines before you start losing brain cells. Working in a corporate environment, I do see women who are perfectly manicured/dermabrased/highlighted, but I feel no envy or need to keep up with them. It’s all about priorities, I suppose. I spend exactly half an hour in my stylists chair every six weeks for a shampoo, cut and lip wax, and that’s long enough. At home, I color my hair and paint my nails, and I enjoy pedicures in the summer. It’s relatively low-level girl knowledge, but it works for me, and it lets me afford to feed my shoe addiction.

  21. Cindy

    The post really hit home for me. I have almost no “girly” knowledge, having been a tomboy as a child, always working in male dominated fields, and marrying a man who wants nothing to do with “high-maintenance.” My interest in fiber arts has lead me to more interactions with women and I am regular astounded by other women’s knowledge. I also regularly feel that I have missed something special.

    The one thing I have always done is keep my toe nails painted (salon and at-home pedicures). My male colleagues are ALWAYS taken aback when they see my toes (working out on the water/changing footwear) for the first time. Many have commented that my toes don’t jibe with the rest of me!

  22. Miriana

    I’m not particularly girly and generally I oscillate between being envious of highly polished women and thinking that it’s a bit of a waste of time, and then settle on thinking , each to their own. However, there is something about the recent cult of the Brazilian that I find either despressing or disturbing. A desire to look like a plucked chicken / porn star / pre-pubescent girl is bad enough, but the reasons often given are either ‘my partner likes it’ or ‘it makes me feel clean down there’ don’t gladden my heart. Oh, and the itching!

  23. Jill

    I also feel left out the mani/pedi talk (mostly because I’ve only ever had one pedicure and it gave me horrible toenail fungus that took years and a lot of money to get rid of and also left me out of the open toe/sandal talk.) I do, however, get Brazilians and am surprised by how many women don’t. The actual waxing isn’t so bad after the first time and it just feels so much better.

    I do tend to be the go to girl for hair and skin care products, though, which surprises some because I’m pretty minimal with makeup and don’t really splash out often for clothes.

  24. Ivy

    Oh my goodness. Yes! Some things I’m okay with — I can do makeup decently, and I’m really good at painting my own nails. But my mom wasn’t particularly girly so I feel there are a lot of things I don’t know: how to accessorize, how to put together unique outfits I feel confident about, how to blow dry my hair. How to hit that balance of entertaining, interested, but not too interested, that actually gets a date….

    But the one that really mystifies me is how women stay looking put together and fashionable all day. Maybe I’m just a spaz, but even if I manage to look cute when I leave the house, I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards by noon. It just doesn’t occur to me to worry about rumpling my clothes or messing up my hair while I go about my day, and I never remember to touch up makeup (or figure out a non-awkward way to take my purse to the restroom with me to do so). Yet I see women around me who somehow manage to look as good at the end of the day as when they started. Mystery.

  25. Jen

    I have been in love with makeup since, well, forever. My grandma owned every shade of Revlon lipstick and had them arranged on her dressing table in shade groups. They looked like little green & gold soldiers, in an arc, ready to do battle against the morning uglies. I would sit at that mirror for hours, expirmenting with shade combinations, technique, and finally emerging looking like a madam of the night. But her willingness to allow me to play with her cosmetic collection during my childhood, gave me the confidence to expirment as an adult. I will admit to some awful expirments in junior high (who didn’t have them?!). But by the time college rolled around, I had discovered Sephora and Clinique, and my girlfriends came to me for cosmetic advice.

    The hair part didn’t come into focus until recently. I finally gave up on cheap haircuts, home dye jobs, and self bang trims and now go to a stylist who knows her stuff. Every six weeks I plop down in that chair and am well taken care of. I mastered the art of the round brush, the curling iron, and life is much happier for me.

    That being said, I just don’t get the whole waxing thing. Maybe because I was in the feminist group in college who was totally anti-cutsey. Maybe because I hate pain. Maybe because I’m lazy and don’t want to maintain. It baffles me. Plus, half the “waxers” in the area are former students of mine (I’m a HS counselor…for career center students) and that is just…ew. When the conversation with my girlfriends turns to manis, pedis, waxings, massages, and the like, I’m lost. I just don’t have time for all of that. I don’t do “spa days.” I wish I did. Maybe someday, when my son is grown, my school administrator husband is not toting us to every sporting event under the sun, and I’m not trying to balance three hectic schedules I will have time. Sounds lovely:)

  26. Kat

    Do I ever have answers to this question…. I’m not a girly girl–I don’t wear makeup or perfume, get my nails done, or wax, and the most exotic thing I’ve done at the hair salon is get a layered cut. Occasionally I use oils or anti-frizz serum on my hair, and that’s about the extent of the beauty products I own! Also, I don’t diet (other than “eat mostly healthy things in moderate quantities”), and being left out of those conversations is helpful to my sanity.

    And then there are the other womanly things–neither my SO or I want to marry, so I am left in the dust in conversations about the myriad aspects of wedding planning, picking out rings, bridal showers, becoming a wife. I also don’t have children, and was never involved in caring for young children–so I don’t have much to say about pregnancy, changing diapers, feeding babies, kid milestones, and motherhood.

    I am unexpectedly knowledgeable about fashion and style, especially given that I thrift the majority of my wardrobe! I used to want to be a fashion designer, and I still enjoy fashion as a creative art and a form of self-expression; I can swoon over pictures of beautiful clothes even if I’m not in the market for them. I know a fair bit about caring for long hair (which mostly involves things not to do rather than things to do). And I am good at the stereotypically feminine practice of being the peacemaker and harmonizer in groups, helping others to calm down and find common ground.

  27. JavaChick

    I often think that I am not a very girly girl, even though I love clothes and shoes. I’m fussy about my hair and I take good care of it but I don’t color it or spend a lot of time styling it. I’m terrible at accessorizing – I have jewelery, but unless it’s a special occasion I rarely wear it because I don’t thing of it. I don’t enjoy spa treatments or massages. My daily makeup routine is foundation and powder. Manicure? Pedicure? I love the look, but mostly can’t be bothered to do it.

    And yet. I do love a special occasion where I can get all dolled up and look pretty. I just don’t do it every day.

  28. Mardel

    Oh this could describe my entire youth — I was rather sheltered, my mom knew none of this information, I was an only girl and was rather shy. And yet, I still find myself caught up in whole fields of girl-knowledge I’ve not yet explored. The Brazilian would fit that scenario as well.

  29. Cathy

    A moment that stands out to me was finding out someone perceived me as an expert in something girly. When I was 20-ish, I had a fungal infection in my toe nail and after treating, a rounded quarter of my toe nail was white. It looked odd and I worked in a pool so this weird toe nail was on display. I got in the habit of painting my toe nails any colour that was opaque so this wasn’t noticable while it gradually returned to pink. I never went for a pedi, this was rather embarassing in my mind, I just did it myself. This led to a friend thinking I was the expert in foot care. It’s not how I perceived myself, but it is how she saw me.

    I had my eyebrows waxed exactly once before my wedding, part of the package they had for brides so I figured it was a good reason to try. It’s not for me. It did make me realize that I wouldn’t tweeze too much (something I was worried about) and that I like my eyebrow shape with a little tidying rather than waxing.

  30. Daily Jo Haiku

    What a great post. I am also guilty of assuming certain attributes or habits to my friends, based on their appearance or my perception of their appearance. It makes me wonder what other people think of me and my grooming habits!

  31. futurelint

    I was a late bloomer so I think I’ve always felt behind on womanly things. In college I dyed a single streak of my red hair blonde, just to see what dying my hair was like because it seemed every girl I knew did it on a monthly basis! I’ve still never had my eyebrows waxed or threaded or shaped professionally. I’ve never gotten a mani or pedi because i just don’t see the point – I can do it myself. I’ve never gotten a facial or massage or waxing. I guess I’m okay with having a simple beauty regime because I can always think of things I’d rather spend my money on!

  32. Cynthia

    Excellent thread!

    I had a great-aunt (southern, no less) who owned a Merle Norman studio when I was very small, and I learned makeup and skincare at her knee. I loved playing with the samples! And I loved watching and listening while she worked with her clients. I never lost my love for that aspect of girly-hood. My almost-grown daughters, on the other hand, grew up watching me and were interested as little girls but really don’t care beyond lipgloss (one) and dark gothy emo-y makeup (the other) now.

    Waxing – no thanks – not into pain. Especially in some areas!

    And I love it when women friends open up new girl vistas for me. It still happens – and I never fail to be fascinated – I love those moments of How did I not know that?

  33. D

    I really liked this post because while I know that in many ways I am pretty feminine, I generally feel like I am the least girly girl I know. I play roller derby, work as a scientist, generally don’t wear makeup, and listen to more metal/hard rock than most people that I know. I always feel left out of my female coworker’s conversations about dieting and chocolate dependence “because they are women”, and generally, waxing frightens me. I think the girly knowledge I am really missing out on though, is their ability to open up about ANYTHING. Talking about periods and sex and whatnot seems like such a private thing to me, but they seem to have no problem discussing it with each other. I freeze up and don’t see that changing soon, but I think I am missing out in a way; maybe it would be nice to get those topics off of my chest sometimes and get some perspective from other women.

    I’m kind of becoming the go-to girl with dresses (my collection just keeps growing…), shoes and nail polish talk though, so I guess I must possess SOME kind of girly knowledge!

  34. Rachel

    Yes, I worry that I’m behind on “girl knowledge.” I have to admit, when I read this post my first feeling was a sense of relief: I’m not the only one who doesn’t get Brazilian waxes. Phew!

    • Lauren

      I’m just reading through all these wonderful responses, thinking the exact same thing as you, Rachel! 🙂

  35. jennie w.

    I don’t want to be gross or pervy or anything, but a couple of years ago I got talking to my sister and some of my friends–all boring married ladies in our 30’s and everybody was talking about all these vibrators and, uh, toys they had. I was so clueless it wasn’t even funny. I’m not very clueless anymore!

  36. Jenny

    I read this blog partly because I feel out of the loop on girly things and I’d like to know more. I have size eleven feet and am plus size, so I’ve always felt unable to participate in fashion or shoe talk. (That’s slowly changing!) I do extremely minimal makeup and have a pedicure about once every 18 months, as a treat. I would never dream of getting any part of my body waxed. I don’t sew, not even lost buttons (I get my husband to do that for me.)

    On the other hand — and I know this isn’t exclusively girly, far from it — I’m a great cook, and I recently learned how to knit. There may be hope for me yet!

  37. Nat

    I suck at swooning over girly movies— don’t get me wrong, i love romantic comedy, but i’m a bit of a snob when it comes to the quality of my tacky chick flicks. So when my friends are discussing the latest cute scene in some rom com, debbie downer over here is sitting in the corner dejectedly muttering “cliche…” under her breath.

    i swear, i’m fun to be around!

    as for expertise — i’m the resident masturbation adviser to all my friends. not sure how this happened. but whenever anyone needs a good vibrator recommendation, i’m your girl.

  38. Erica

    Haha, I was so happy to read this post. Isn’t it odd that most girls can relate to feeling “not girly” at some point in their lives?

  39. Anna

    Oh, what a wonderful topic, and what memories and resonances it inspires! My mother was not girly at all. She was particular about clothes, and very sensitive to color combinations, but otherwise she was very basic. No makeup at all except for loose powder over hand lotion applied as a base. (Though when my sister and I were in our teens, we discovered her Big Secret: she used a No. 1 drawing pencil to strengthen her eyebrows, which she said would be invisible otherwise. She was very embarrassed by this admission.) She wore her own long hair in a bun at the back of her neck, and knew nothing about curlers, dryers, etc.

    She cut my hair for the first time when I was 12, having braided it every morning for years until that time. After that I had to learn to take care of my hair by myself, aided by magazine articles and photographs and occasional advice from the rather inept small-town stylists who cut my hair after that. I was never part of the exclusive circle of girls who did slumber parties and makeup sessions. For the high school play, I grabbed at the assignment to do the makeup so I could practice with the school makeup kit at home—in privacy, of course. When it was time for the play, of course all the girls who were in it did their own makeup—they already knew how.

    Oddly enough, by the time I attended a hippie college where no young woman would have been caught dead in any makeup, I was the only one there who wore eye shadow and liner at all times. Go figure. Maybe I was in revolt against the revolution.

    Fast forward to the present: I am comfortable with basic full makeup for occasions but usually go without for everyday, except for lips and eyes.
    In my part of the country, that is standard. No pedicures yet. No manicures yet. I’d like to try both sometime, but there’s no rush. I still think girly can be a lot of fun.

  40. The Waves

    I have never had a facial, I have never been to a cosmetologist, I don’t dye my hair, I wouldn’t even consider making a waxing appointment, I wear very little make-up, and the only manicures/pedicures I have had were only because of modeling gigs back in the day. Yes, there are times when my female friends start talking about all of this stuff, but for some reason I find those conversations just fascinating, and I don’t feel “left out”.

    I do feel like an outsider if on occasion I am in a room with women I don’t know, and they start talking about how disgusting thrifting and/or flea markets are.

  41. Laura

    I had a similar experience once, with a friend who I thought of as low-maintenance and almost counter-culture. In the course of conversation, she brought up getting her eyebrows waxed as a matter of course. At that point in my life, I’d never had my eyebrows waxed and was very surprised that she, particularly, took it as a fait accompli. A while later, I was waiting around in a salon to get my hair cut and a nice Vietnamese lady essentially grabbed me and said, “hey, you want to try getting your eyebrows done?” and I did. I’ve found that it makes a lot of difference, visually, for me, and is much easier on the upkeep than doing it myself, so I still do get my eyebrows waxed. I’ve never had anything else waxed, though, and no plans for waxing near my delicate bits.

    I grew up in a rural area and we, at least, didn’t do much salon stuff – you got your hair cut and that was it. The only time I’ve had a pedicure was before my husband’s sister’s wedding; it was kind of a girl-bonding time for the attendants. It was *fine*, but it didn’t seem that much different than just doing it yourself and saving most of the cash.

    On a related note, there is something alarming about the invisibility of this stuff becoming ubiquitous – the sense that ‘all women’ wax or manicure or whatever, and because it’s not even talked about, people expect that that’s the natural state of a woman’s body. It’s like Sal’s days without makeup – a lot of us have forgotten what that’s like, and almost as important, the outside world has forgotten what that’s like to see us that way.

  42. Jessica

    Although I’m right at home in the territories of perfume, clothes, shoes, nail polish, and bargain-hunting, I do have four huge weak points when it comes to girl knowledge:

    1. Chick flicks/shows. Except for Jane Austen period dramas, I know nothing about chick flicks and shows, other than what I can guess from the names and movie posters. (“Mean Girls” must be about… mean high school girls who wear pink all the time, right?)

    2. Celebrity gossip. This is part upbringing, part my own intentions. I don’t feel like what those people are doing is any of my business, so I make it a point not to pry, resulting in utter ignorance about what celebrities are up to.

    3. Makeup. I’ve just barely mastered neutral eye shadow and the application of mascara, but I smudge eyeliner terribly and am hesitant to try actual colors, like pink or blue or gold.

    4. Boys. In my twenty years of existence, I’ve only had one crush (which lasted a chronic six years before petering out), and I’ve never dated or had a boyfriend. I’m not worried about it, but I’m definitely the odd girl out when the subject of boyfriends comes up. Once you hit college it’s taken for granted that you’ve dated and slept around at least a little.

    • Eliza

      So glad you brought up boys! I’m in the same boat, as far as dating goes, in college without a boyfriend. My crushes have all been laughably brief. My younger cousin’s already had boyfriends (plural!) and she’s five years younger than me.
      I don’t really understand the pleasure other women get out of buying things. I visit the thrift stores often, and a few other hobby shops, but that’s really more because I like to gossip with the volunteers/owners. Though I’ll look, I rarely buy, and this sometimes makes me feel a little different. It’s particularly odd when I see how MUCH clothing/nailpolish/whatever other girls/women have. I can’t imagine living with that much stuff- it seems overwhelming. Of course, art supplies are an entirely different matter ; )
      I’ve never had anything waxed, and I don’t touch my eyebrows. My roomate last year was surprised when I mentioned this. She just assumed I plucked them, even though she’d never seen me do it.

  43. K.Bean

    I have a solid understanding of makeup and hair removal, but I’m not good at dressing up for weddings and the like. I’ve never felt excluded by it, more like uninformed, and I have definitely turned to friends for help.

  44. Marsha Calhoun

    Funny you should ask. As I was putting on eyeliner this morning (as per my new year’s resolution two years ago, which I am still following), I reflected on my general resentment of the time spent on girly maintenance and how other people seem to enjoy it. But since I like the results, I discipline myself to perform some of the rites (moisturizer and sun screen, wrinkle cream at night, dye the hair, pluck the eyebrows, very light lip color, eyeliner and mascara – that’s pretty much it). Having recently moved, I am going through my years-old collection of perfume quite methodically, trying each scent for a day and deciding that evening whether to keep or dump.

    As a young teen looking at my godmother’s fashion magazines, I constantly compared myself to the models and came up losers every time (it never occurred to me that they had been airbrushed and otherwise revised). I noticed that I got depressed whenever I read girly articles about makeup and clothing, so I stopped reading them (though I loved their enchanting prose and promises, I knew them to be lies). But I did wear the lipstick and eye makeup that was standard among my set at the time. I just didn’t do it very well. I even gave myself weekly manicures, and did very little with my hands so they would stay pristine longer.

    My late teens and twenties took place in the hippie era, when anything went outside of the workplace (which was annoyingly rigid and really quite stupid). I had two complete wardobes – work and non-work (meaning school and life). Work clothes were short dresses, suits (no trousers; not allowed), stockings, and high heels. Life clothes were floaty, full-length dresses and skirts, often made by me, jeans, sandals, and whatever embellishments felt right at the time – there were no real rules. Now I work for myself, at home, and am having fun trying to dress a little differently every day (my husband is at home too, and he has to look at me, so I pay more attention than when I was alone). Plus, there is my public to consider – the folks at the grocery store, the post office, the office supply store . . .

    Hair has always meant pain to me – my mother kept me in daily braids for years, then threw her hands in the air and chopped of my hair when she was finally sick of my morning protests. I still don’t like it, and I especially hate the idea of cutting it because that means I will have to cut it again, soon, and it will only look good for a few days before entering the “in-between-cuts” period when it looks like hell. So I just let it grow, and it has become one of my permanent characteristics.

    When I need girly, I have friends who seem committed to not getting older (they aren’t succeeding, but they are putting up an epic fight), and they advise me about products suitable to older skin, etc. They showed me how I could try before using at Sephora, so that’s where I go for this stuff. When I got married (a year and a half ago), one of them kept urging me to wear more makeup for the day, including brow stuff, so I did, and it seemed okay – after all, I was on display, and I wanted the pictures to be good. But now the brow stuff is for special occasions, mostly because I get bored after putting on the rest.

    Also, I have a daughter who seems to have been born knowing all the girl stuff; she and I differ on the Brazilian question, because I (to put it delicately) feel that lack of natural hair in that area means less sensation at certain times when sensation is welcome. But when I need to know something, she is my go-to gal (she pointed out that I had inadvertently purchased a lip plumper when all I wanted was a nice, moisturizing lip gloss; these things happen).

    Can’t stand nail polish on my hands, since it chips immediately. Because I am not happy with one of my toenails, I use unobtrusive polish on my toes in summer when people can see them. I wouldn’t dream of letting anyone else fiddle with my feet.

    But now that I am (usually) secure in knowing that I am fine even if not perfect in form, I am committed to having more fun with my physical self, and this includes the realm of the girly. Age has its virtues! And I have a lot to learn.

  45. rb

    I feel as fully versed as I want to be in all matters girly, though I don’t partake of all services (brazilian? hell to the no!) I tend to have a more scientific/medical viewpoint on most of them, as that is my nature as a mathematician. I am not at all opposed to cosmetic and feel-good treatments, and partake in many of them myself, but I don’t regard something like a facial as necessary for good health, but rather more of a treat. So that would be the only area where I might disagree with female friends. For less “girly” inclined friends, I find that some of them come to me for advice on where they should go for this or that. I haven’t noticed any exclusionary nature of any of this, but perhaps that’s because I’m older and we’ve moved past the pettiest stuff at this point.

  46. Erin @ Fierce Beagle

    I’m not particularly stylish or high maintenance; although I love beautiful shoes, I’m more inclined to sport some Chuck Taylor or Birks or flip flops that a pair of hawt heels. I rarely spend more than 15 mins getting ready (unless its a special occasion). But…I LOVE makeup. Adore. I subscribe to about 10 youtube channels, and they’re all makeup artists.

    Maybe its my artsy fartsy side. I don’t view makeup as a way to cover up (although I definitely appreciate it’s skin-evening and brightening qualities), but I’m drawn to the expression side of it. Even very natural looking makeup is a way to basically do art all up on your face.

    I enjoy Illamasqua’s take on it: Unabashed, makeup for “your alter ego” reveling.

    • Meg

      I once read that if makeup application were considered an art form, there would be a LOT more female artists in the world.

      I like the sound of “makeup for my alter ego”. I guess that’s how I can explain all my eyeliner experimentation sessions. 🙂

  47. stephani

    Every once in a while, in discussions with other women–not often, thankfully–I do experience that whole childish, insecure “oh god, am I normal? why don’t I know about this/do this/want this for myself” kind of feeling. Luckily, those moments are rare and fleeting. I am me. I want what I want. Don’t want what I don’t want, care about what I care about, no matter who among my friends or acquaintances wants or cares about whatever it is. I’ve always been very resistant to the kind of peer-pressure driven insecurities that spark that left out feeling, and growing and maturing and becoming more “myself” has just solidified that tendency.
    That said, several of my friends now have children–not something I’ve ever wanted or wanted to experience or really even wondered about–and inevitably conversations that I can’t really participate in do occur when we get together. So while I do feel left out, it’s not in any way that I wish to change.

  48. Megan Mae

    I always forget things like makeup, jewelry, and perfume (deodorant I remember though). I always get grand ideas to paint my nails a bunch and never do.

    I can dye my hair any color under the sun. I can cut, color, perm and style hair like crazy.. but I’m impossible when it comes to my own hair. I often just comb it wet and let it air dry.

    My only real “girl friends” tend to be blog-friends so they all have a wealth of information on me. Even if I have the info, implementing it doesn’t always come about.

  49. QuiteLight

    This timing on this is amazing. I have been going through this for the last couple of weeks! I am most excellent at grooming; skin, makeup, and nails. I am terrible at hair & clothes & accesories.

    I was a closet beauty-addict for a long time, since 95% of my friends were male & my family thought it was frivolous. So I carefully groomed (who can tell I spent hours on my facials?), read every magazine & book I could squirrel away. I am a veritable treasure trove of groomery knowledge.

    But no woman on my mother’s side can dress herself attractively; it really may be genetic. I can critique & evaluate outfits, but cannot put together something interesting to save my life right now. And I have a degree in Visual Arts!!

    Then one of my best friends, a low-maintenance tri-athelete/lawyer, has suddenly gotten the beauty-bug. She could always dress really well, funky, flattering & well fitted, but I had to lend her a lipstick on her wedding day because she didn’t own one & hadn’t thought of it! Years later, all of a sudden, she’s interested in makeup, sporting falls & faux ponytails, & is an Avon rep on the side! So we started swapping info; she’s going to to take me thrift shopping, and I lent her beauty books & am teaching her about colour palettes. And I was still scared to a) come out as having a girly side & b) afraid to admit I could barely dress myself! Clearly this is a mental thing on my part, which is a WHOLE new way for me to look at this.

    This could work, shoring up each other’s weak points! And a new friend can sew, but can’t do nails! Possibilities…

  50. T.

    I am in my early 40s, and a mom, and almost all of my friends are, too. If any of my friends are getting Brazilians, I do not want to know about it! And I can honestly say I would be shocked if I found out they were. If I did find out they were getting Brazilians, I would suddenly feel naive, and wonder why in the heck they are getting them!

    I feel like I fall in the girly category, but I have never had a facial, a massage, a mani, a pedi, a perm, or hair color, or highlights, a waxing, a plucking. I do wear make-up, style my hair, polish my toenails, utlitize accessories and jewelry.

    I did have a roommate in college for a short time who was not a girly-girl. We each had her own bathroom, and I went into hers one day looking for a roll of toilet paper. Her cupboards were completely bare. No lotion, no hair dryer, nothing, not even bandaids. It was so weird!! It was like she needed nothing to function! That made me feel self-conscious, and for a day or two I worried that she thought I was silly for having a closet full of beauty supplies, but then I got over it.

  51. Aimee

    I am a pro at make-up and a thrifting queen. Friends come to me for advice with both, and I love taking people to MAC or Goodwill for help with redefining their style, learning about make-up, or just for fun girl-bonding time. I am the person who is on-call for help with weddings, community theater, big parties, Halloween, etc. I’m also an artist, and I love that doing my make-up allows me to start my day with a few minutes of creativity.

    I am pretty inexperienced with waxing or other forms of “professional” hair removal. I get my brows done occasionally, my hairdresser will do it while my conditioner soaks in so it’s a nice little treat. But that is it. I also get the occasional pedicure and keep my toenails polished, just because I like the way it looks.

    I share the concern that as a culture we’re feeding the misconception that women are perfectly coiffed, hairless below the neck, never-thin-enough, mythical creatures. Anything other than basic hygeine and maintainance, I do because I enjoy it, not because I feel obligated to. Anyone that would look down on me because of my lack of nail polish, occasionally fuzzy legs, or the days I want to give my face a break from make-up is not someone that I particularly care to associate with.

  52. Kate K

    Yes, absolutely. Especially in my teens and twenties, I felt like I was behind or just plain out of the loop on typically girly activities and I still sometimes feel that way. A lot of this stems from my mom (I promise this isn’t going to be a therapy session): she has always had short hair and due to *extremely* sensitive skin, she doesn’t wear makeup and doesn’t wear perfume or any type of scented lotion or deodorant. She also hates shaving, due to her sensitive skin, and while she never had long hair on her legs, hair removal was never a huge priority. (She told me to put it off as long as possible.) However, she was still quite feminine: she loves jewelry and shoes and loves dressing up. She very much believes that clothes make the woman and that you can’t go wrong with classic, feminine pieces with long, clean lines.

    This has influenced me in a variety of ways. At the most basic level, I didn’t have anyone to teach me about makeup or how to braid my hair. I learned how to put on very basic makeup when I was 15 because my friend hosted a Mary Kay party. (I didn’t learn about eyeliner until I was 25 and I learned from my best friend as we were getting ready for a party.) She’s also influenced my preferences. Because she preferred short hair, I had short hair when I was little and that’s what’s most comfortable to me. I don’t like perfume or scented lotions and when I do find myself attracted to a scent, it’s a clean, more uni-sex scent. Honestly, my favorite scent is clean laundry, which is a smell I equate with my mother. I shave on a regular basis but I never put forth too much effort towards the cause (as a blonde gal, I pretty much ignore the very fine blond hair on the backs of my thighs.)

    Beyond that, I think women often look at their mothers as a source of what’s feminine and what a woman is expected to do. Sometimes we rebel against that or we end up using our mothers as templates. I followed my mom. In my head, I am absolutely girly. I do my hair, I put on minimal amounts of makeup, and I love clothes and accessories. So it’s very jarring when my friends talk about waxing (eyebrows and down yonder) and anti-cellulite creams and various types of perfume as part of their common experience and realize that those things are not even on my radar. Sometimes, I try to care, I really do. I have so many bottles of scented lotion and anti-cellulite cream sitting in my bathroom. I use them once or twice, realize that I hate the way they smell or the way that they don’t absorb quickly enough (I have things to do! I don’t have time to sit around and wait for my anti-cellulite cream to sink in!), and then they languish.

    What concerns me is that sometimes, as a single woman, I wonder if these gaps are going to affect my ability to begin and even sustain a relationship. I know it’s ridiculous but sometimes I think “I should be using my anti-cellulite, skin firming lotion if I’m ever going to get a man!” or “I should wear this perfume I bought but don’t really like because men like women who wear perfume.” Deep down, I understand (or I trust) that when I find the right man for me, his love for me will not hinge upon my use of perfume or whether or not I wax my bikini line. But it’s still a hard thought to shake.

  53. Fabienne Jach

    Absolutely! When I was finally exposed to the concept of Brazillians, (thanks Sex and the City), I was surprised to find out I was the last of my friends to know, which got me wondering what else I might have missed out on.

  54. Anon For Now

    I’m superficially girly – I like clothes and shoes (although not so into bags), get my hair professionally colored and cut, and wear makeup (although not until into my 30s), heels, and skirts. I like to shop and I enjoy the occasional chick-flick and bodice-ripper. But, I have never dieted and get so bored listening to women (and it’s mostly women who do this) talk about how they were “bad” because they had a piece of cake or a sandwich made with two slices of bread. Really, all I want to hear is that your meal is delicious! I also don’t get the chocolate thing at all – it’s good, but I’d rather have some olives, a good steak, good whiskey.

    I also don’t like talking about feelings, and I don’t like and am horrible at the scheming and back-channel manuevering that seems to be more common in women-dominated offices. Unfair, perhaps, but that’s been my experience throughout my worklife.

  55. Kristin

    I feel feminine (though that may be because I’m wearing a long skirt and heels today), but I’ve never been particularly girly. I’ve never shaved anything but my armpits; I don’t wax anything; I don’t wear perfume; my skin care routine consists of putting some lotion on my face (whenever I remember); I get my hair cut once a year (again, if I remember); I don’t paint my nails or wear makeup; I think we own a hairdryer but god knows I’ve never used it; and, perhaps most alienating of all, I never “got” Sex and the City (or, for that matter, Seinfeld) and have no clue who most celebrities are.

    That said, I sew and embroider; I garden and clean house; I cook, I bake, and I can food. I’m by no means a 1950s housewife, but I enjoy many arts that are stereotypically feminine. To me, femininity (as distinct from “girlishness”) is best pursued in the action of making beauty all around myself, rather than trying to make myself beautiful. Because I am already beautiful from the inside out, as all women are.

  56. Rad

    Such an interesting post. I’ve been thinking about this all day. But what constitute girly knowledge? I know about how to talk to almost anyone with complete (faked) confidence, in a firm way, if you want to get something. This is something I watched my diminutive mother do. Does this make it woman/girl knowledge? I also know to whip up relatively healthy meals fairly quickly, at a reasonable costs, which I picked up from my grandma. I love clothes and style, but shy away from makeup (including nails) and jewelry. I know a lot about (and have tried most varieties of) depilation, but infrequently indulge (even in the summer, despite being quite furry and having iimperfect brows). What I’ve really learned from my female friends, role models, and family is the way that my gender, race, age, and appearance mediate my every day interactions. This is probably the most important girl knowledge I have.

  57. MarieP

    I don’t drink and I’ve only had sex with one man in my whole life (my husband, after the wedding), so, yeah! With certain of my friends, I felt completely left out of the conversation. That, and I still don’t have anything to contribute to discussions of hair and make-up b/c I can’t seem to get a handle on either topic.

  58. Gillian

    I love clothes and enjoy makeup as something to play around with, but I feel that I lack a lot of “girly knowledge” about what I would call appearance maintenance. I lucked into having good hair, pretty even skin, and an abnormally high metabolism, so I am barely competent at using hair products, I am horrible about washing my makeup off, and I know nothing about dieting. This has excluded me from a lot of conversations with friends and even my mother. My girlfriends were annoyed that sleeping in makeup didn’t make me break out a ton, my mom gets annoyed that I didn’t inherit her thinner hair, and it seems impossible to avoid conversations about dieting and weight anywhere you go. In relation to this, since I am very petite and scrawny, I am almost the same size at 22 as I was when I was 12. I have filled out a little and don’t look like a kid most of the time, but I never went through a dramatic puberty where my body totally morphed into a woman’s from a girl’s. I have always felt very excluded from any girly knowledge about having curves and a super womanly body. I also feel excluded from complaining about it because there’s not a lot of sympathy for saying you wish you were bigger sometimes.

  59. molly

    I like clothes shopping and cooking and talking about relationships, and other women (and anyone else) might really enjoy the process of getting creative with makeup or the results of removing body hair, and I wish we could just say things like “she’s into makeup” or “she likes being hairless” and not “she’s really girly”.

    I hate the whole idea of “girliness,” because it makes us feel less “girly” if we don’t do everything expected of women in our culture at this particular time. (And if you have any doubt, see the comments above!) I think if we’re women, we’re feminine by definition, no matter if we’re Southern belles or butch lesbians. Removing our public hair doesn’t make us closer to any essence of woman, and expecting women to do it is just another way we can never win the femininity game, much less the “being feminine and also taken seriously” game. Aw, now I’m all sad!

  60. Lorena

    You smart woman always have the most insightful posts, I adore the fact that you get people thinking !
    HA! I have to say that I am certainly clueless on many things and I could care less, honestly.
    I hear things -taking your own Brazilian example and I cannot, CANNOT imagine anybody waxing my parts.
    I have a friend who takes pride in these type of things and will blurt it out, like “‘you don’t do xnxnxnx ??” and sometimes they are just awful things… She thinks that it will make her be ahead of the rest.
    Brazilian? I am not Brazilian,nor am I a porn star.
    I think that whatever it is you do is because YOU Like it, not because anybody pushes you to it.

  61. Thursday

    I look quite feminine to others as I wear dresses and love accessories and shoes and generally put about three minutes effort into making sure my hair looks ok – but I’m very guided by what is practical for my lifestyle and personality. I cook and sew, two very traditionally feminine things, but I hate make-up and most hair products (don’t own a hair dryer, haven’t dyed my hair in more than ten years), find wearing nailpolish a complete waste of time and disgusting to boot, and have only had beauty treatments when gifted them by others – and find the idea of manis and facials and such irrelevant to me. So no, I don’t feel left out when other women discuss these things, just like it’s all very far away and doesn’t really matter. I am, however, the resident expert on retro and vintage style lingerie – which can ve very practical!

    As a social phenomenon, however, I feel that Brazilian waxing brings more negative effects than most others – not in that it has grown more acceptable but that both men and women have come to expect it of women. I’ve experimented with that side of personal grooming (but no wax!) but I am definitely with Marsha – being without pubic hair makes me feel less feminine and definitely results in less sensation. I have been pressured by lovers in the past to be hairless and staunchly refused, because any man who demands that of me doesn’t deserve my attention. But society is telling them that it’s normal – when it’s totally a choice, and one which I wish fewer women felt pressured into.

    • Christine

      Isn’t it amazing how different people are? I don’t wax, but I do shave, because I like the sensations better. My husband doesn’t have a preference, he just likes me! 🙂

  62. Jeanni

    I think this is a hugely diverse issue for so many people. My mom knows all the good things, she can blow dry her hair, work a round brush (I once got my hair so stuck it had to be cut out), use a mascara wand, perfectly blend foundation, and when I was a kid she made me feel bad about wanting to know because I was a kid, so I stopped asking, and then when I was a teenager she just expected me to know. So I picked up a lot on my own from experimentation.
    There are also certain things I take for granted as just good genes. For example, I never get my eyebrows waxed. I have horrible eyebrow shaping genes, but I have great hair growth genes, so when I do my eyebrows myself with a depilatory cream, they stay the way I want for over a month. I’ve never had my legs waxed either because I shave them once every two weeks or so and the hair barely grows, less than half an inch. I rarely have to do anything to my toenails because they rarely grow beyond my preferred length, they don’t become claws or anything. I have a good complexion, I know part of that is that I’m still young, but a part of it is genetics. I don’t break out almost at all. I have a natural nearly-perfect blush on my face. My skin is smooth naturally, I rarely need lotion. I don’t sunburn (only once in my life) even when I forget sunscreen (I know it’s bad, I try to always remember, but everyone slips now and then), My hair is usually pretty good, even when I don’t wash it for a week because I get lazy, it generally looks good. So I’m absolutely useless with helping other people with these sorts of things. I get asked all the time what I do to my hair or what cleanser I use, and I can’t help because all I do to my hair is wash it, air dry it, and occasionally straighten it, and I don’t use any special cleanser, just take off my makeup at night.

    As for putting on makeup, I hate leaving the house/apartment/dorm without at least eyeliner, preferably eyeliner and lipgloss/stick. I hate it. I feel ugly and naked, because you just don’t DO that, the way I was raised. I think it’s so diverse.

  63. PepperToast

    Well, in my late 30’s the only makeup I wear is mascara. I have the same hair I had since I can remember, varying lengths of long and straight and I have never had my nails done. I would also describe myself as athletic as I have always and will continue to always do a variety of athletic stuff.

    But…. I…(cough) may have… on one or two occasions…. perhaps, may have….waxed a certain area… or maybe not…. and if I did… I can tell you this… while my husband might have ‘enjoyed the view’… it was MOST CERTAINLY beneficial for me in a very good way. I absolutely will not let anyone’s idea of what waxing there may or may not mean to society make me or stop me from doing that sort of thing. I really boils down to the fact that is no one else’s business (including your mate’s).

  64. joann, sidewalk chic

    There are definitely certain things that make me feel like I’m not part of the club — blowouts, fake eyelashes, eyebrow waxing and any sort of hair dye jobs.

    I’ve gotten a Brazilian (two actually) — ugh, never again. It was so overpriced and painful and even humiliating (having the wax technician see me half-naked when we had just met five seconds before and make me contort my body in strange positions). I felt like I was doing it for the wrong reasons the whole time (wanting to excite my mate, not actually wanting it and benefiting from it for myself). I’m really glad to read on here that there are tons of you who don’t get or even like having Brazilian waxes — I thought I was the only one!

  65. Autumn

    I get that feeling a lot from being arond other girls. Mostly because they start swapping new makeup ideas, the sales here and there, and I feel like I am missing out because as much as I love getting dressed in pretty clothes and such, but because my expertise lies in doing nail polish jobs yourself and having Mom do your face because you are klutz with a mascara brush. But then I know things they don’t- how to get a stink off your hands fast, fixing a bad hair day, where to buy mainstream clothes without the price. But I think that makes each and every one of us our own style guru.

  66. JG

    I like the idea of “preferred areas of girliness,” mostly because it sort of accepts, by its very phrasing, that there are certain feminine things that we participate in and in which we take interest, and others that we don’t particularly care about. And that’s okay.

    I feel quite a bit behind some of my other friends when it comes to makeup related girliness. I have a very simple makeup routine and am intimidated by Sephora, so things rarely change on that front for me. I also think I have the type of face that really can’t wear too much makeup or I end up looking like a transvestite (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But then my friends seem to be whizzes at the smokey eye and have advice for keeping their makeup brushes in pristine condition and I’m just lost. The only makeup brush I usually use is my index finger!

  67. Megan

    I still mostly feel like I’m playing pretend when I go in girly stores. I have an inexplicable fear of underwear shopping. I have actually lied about going underwear shopping in the past, which is stupid. I always feel like a poseur when I’m in Victoria’s Secret, like the sales reps look at me and go: “She has no money, ignore her,” or “She must be shopping for someone else.”

    I have similar feelings whenever I’m in stores like Sephora. It’s in there that I also become hyper-aware that I don’t understand makeup culture at all. I can apply makeup, and pretty well, at that. I just don’t get it, and whenever I go to a makeup counter, I tend to accidentally break something. 🙂 Sephora usually makes me look completely foolish because they glue the brushes to the displays, and no amount of explaining can prevent me from trying to pick up the display brush.

  68. SewDucky!

    Most of my friends are guys, and outside of the whole “why aren’t you ready yet?” (Because I had to set my hair, find my eyelashes, apply them, add about 10 tons of makeup, squeeze into foundation garments, iron my clothing, find heels, find my stockings and not the ones with the lines down the legs, change clothes, kiss my kid on the head to blot my lipstick because he got upset that I didn’t do that first, then had to reapply it…)

    Because they don’t give a hoot about any of that, I tend to not discuss it, even with female friends. Recently I did so, and a gal was discussing a facial cream that was way out of my price range (and I wasn’t that impressed with the sample I did get) and the other ones (who are not all that into this kind of thing to begin with) were going uh..? She asked me and I was like “I use oatmeal.” (As a mask. It works, even though it’s not all that expensive or high tech.) After about 5 minutes of the exclamations of “I never heard of that…” (read a book) and “Isn’t it breakfast cereal…?” (yes); it gets old.

    My usual answer is just “I do the vintage beauty routine” and leave it at that. Most people think my 50s make up is too fussy for them, my hair is too big for them and in general I may look great, but they have no desire to emulate it since they think it is a ton of work. It’s not, but it makes my life much easier to blow it off.

  69. Crissy

    It’s a total mixed bag for me. I had facials, mani-pedis and haute haircuts in high school, but I have no experience with waxing and I suck at using tampons. Also, everyone else I know shops for clothes and shoes and gets massages more than I do, but I buy higher end make-up, hair and skin products and they do not.

  70. Alyssa

    Brazilians: not as scary as they seem. I promise. I can recommend an excellent place if you are ever interested to take the plunge! 😀