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