"... I'm turning 40 this year, isn't it about time that I can do my own hair and makeup?"
The idea of having hair and makeup done as vanity is truly unfortunate. It is a miss-opportunity. In this part of the country, no-makeup
Actually, it was nothing extraordinary that I did. Yet, I've gotten comments when I do so. Sometimes, I see women my age or even older with somewhat awkwardly-put makeup, on an occasion when makeup is expected, that I wish I could lend a little advice on them, "try a bronzy-brown liner on your blue eyes instead of teal," "that tawny, too-bronzed blush on your peaches-and-cream skin ages you -- try a rose instead," "a bit bolder on the shadow, just use a matte one instead of shimmer." Or more poignantly, I would come across someone who poke fun at those who are able to use a blow-dryer/curling iron/eye lash curler/mascara, while I think that very simple, doomed-to-be-vapid skill would bring out her natural beauty front and center.
Growing up with a post-WWII grandma and a feminist-at-the-height-of-its-movement mom, I've seen both sides of the ideals. I come to a conclusion that there is no such thing as a balance between primping and being a woman. It is the whole package. As women, or men for that matter, we all have the privilege and the responsibility to take care of our physical form in this life. Presenting the best version of myself to the world is far from frivolous or vapid, it is a life-affirming act I do everyday. As such, it is not vain to acquire skills to improve my appearance -- just as it is not vain to learn how to do yoga, running, swimming, playing tennis in order to enjoy life and to maintain one's health, or even to brush teeth, get a hair cut, or shave. If these things are done as maintenance and improvement on physical self, why should doing makeup or hair be any different? Being able to present one's best physical appearance does not diminish one's accomplishment, point of view, experience, skills, education, status, etc. How could the daily act of brushing teeth daily diminish the value of a human being?
If the idea of using a pair of tweezer or blow-dryer or mascara or eye lash curler scared you to death, or makes you giggle with unease, now is the time to give them a chance. These seemingly superficial act of putting makeup and doing hair can be transformed into a mindful act of self-respect and respect to other. Sure, there are plenty of days I go barefaced, but it hardly comes from the "who cares, who gives a damn" attitude. Whenever humanly possible, each moment presents itself as an opportunity to show up and I choose to show up by being my best-self version.