It is nothing new for women to be convinced and try to convince other women and girls that physical embellishments should be one of our biggest priorities. An older woman once told a friend of mine that she was not a lady because she did not wear make-up. I was once told during an interview at an employment agency in the DC area that I should polish my look with makeup (wasn’t wearing makeup at the time as a Seventh-day Adventist; still don’t wear much). Didn’t think twice about taking the recruiter’s advice, and I got the job I wanted. Fast-paced law firms preferred competency and efficiency to superficial embellishments.
Don’t get me wrong, I take pride in my appearance and have received plenty of compliments about my personal appearance and dress. But I’ve seldom spent a lot of money on my hair; when I have, I’ve experienced more horror and disappointment than not. Oprah is my model when it comes to my nails; I prefer them cut short and unpolished (though I could use a manicure now and then).
Since I’m not in the cosmetology, modeling, or some similar business, I don’t count personal embellishments as a priority. When I was a student at Harvard, I was somewhat troubled, when a sister studying for ministry said she had to make a choice between getting her hair done (i.e. weave) and buying food. Her sister friend advised her to get her hair done, and she would bring her some food—told her she had to look good at all cost!
That said I love that at 16 years old Gabby Douglas (and her family) has her priorities straight. Gabby’s mother sacrificed financially and emotionally to help her daughter pursue her gifts and dreams. Natalie Hawkins was probably neck high in taking care of her children and the struggles that accompany being a single mom, which can distract from focusing on the dreams of one’s children as one would like. After prodding from another sibling, Hawkins entered Gabby in gymnastics classes when she was 8 yrs old. When Gabby achieved all she could with the coach she had, her mother sacrificed to send Gabby to live with a host family in Iowa (the first one didn’t work out) so that Gabby could have the training she would need to fulfill her Olympic dreams. A girl does not become an Olympic champion by spending a lot of time in a hair salon chair, or a nail parlor. (If they were wealthy that might be a different story, of course; they could have the chair come to them). She and her mother set their priories based upon their dreams and the resources and energy needed to fulfill Gabby’s dreams. Gabby did not become the first African American all around Olympian champion in gymnastics by chance but by giving priority to the necessary time and effort in training and constructing her dreams. Our priorities should be set based on the dreams we are pursuing. If your biggest dreams are to be told how wonderful your hair looks or how beautiful our nails are, then let those things control your priorities. But if you have allowed peer pressure and your environment to sucker you into giving up on your dreams by giving priority to superficial stuff, it’s not too late to re-evaluate and make a u-turn.