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As a man: Rare sighting of a woman's real face

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMMelville Cooke

Sending your child back to school for 'September morning' is always an interesting experience for a parent or guardian - and that is not mentally engaging but in the curse usage, as in "may you live in interesting times."

I had an interesting experience taking our son to a barber shop for that first-day-of-school, ultra-neat look. The tonsorial artist is located in a space where the men are lined up on one side and the women on the other and, where there is some cross-pollination, in that the women who cross over and take a snip or an eyebrow shave or a wash on the male side. But men going over to the women's side where the dryers are - I don't think so.




While I waited for the barber to wrap up a hair creation before taking on our five year-old, I took a quick look at the women with their heads inserted in a plastic orb and something struck me. It was one line of very serious, even unhappy looking, faces. Having never been under a hair dryer, I do not know how uncomfortable it is. But based on how the women who were going through the process looked, it is not a happy thing.

One thought led to another, and I imagined the discomfort many women go through to get their desired look. Sure, we can see the stilted walk on the stiletto heels and the limited chest movement in the tight clothing that restricts fat and breathing alike, but that is in the moment when they are out and putting on a brave, smiling face and things. The true face of beauty is in the preparation, and I got a glimpse of that in the beauty salon, a rare space for me to be in.

There is the 'getting used to the heels' look, because there must be some practise before the elevated footwear is brought out for the public to see. Added to that is the 'button up the tight pants' scowl. Heck, before that is 'getting into the tight pants' grimace, because encasing oneself in clothing so snug the patella prints out cannot be easy. (We know about all kinds of 'printa' clothing, but when the 'patella - 'knee cup'- printer' is a different breed. That is tight.)

Somewhere in the mix, is the sleeping upright uncomfortable face, so as to not dislodge the hairstyle. If there is no one around to do the honours, the bite the lip to buckle the shoe look comes into play.

Then after all of that, the hot lady puts on the smile to top off the outfit.

While imagining all this is interesting, it occurred to me in that barber/beauty enterprise at that moment, that I was getting a glimpse of women's real faces. That the image of beautiful which is presented along with a smile is a farce. I also got to thinking, how hard must it be when putting your best looks (face and otherwise) forward for the public means putting the discomfort of the process aside, when the real you must be suppressed to make a good impression.

That's a lot of pressure to bear.