A realization about "getting ready"

If you’re a college female, you know that going out on a Friday night does not begin when you step out the door. Oh no, it begins two hours earlier when you start getting ready with your crew.

It’s a planned event and often even more important than the actual party.

First, you decide with all your galpals where to meet up. This usually depends on who has the largest bathroom and mirror space. Then you pull up your “Gettin’ Ready” playlist and start playing what you and your girls call “our songs.” You know, the ones that pump you up and make you feel like the baddest chick in the room. It’s mostly Yoncé.

Now the getting ready process has really begun.

“What are you wearing?” you ask every girl in the room before you even consider what to try on. Is it a casual, flowy tank and skinny jeans kind of night or are we breaking out the bodycons and spandex minis? Life decisions here.

After some in depth discussion and remembering that your ex had checked “maybe” on the Facebook event invitation, the consensus is that you need to look HOT. Spandex mini it is. So you try on three slightly different versions of the same outfit and turn several directions evaluating whether this outfit goes well with your regular picture-taking poses. You’ll probably dance a little too and assume that you’re going to look just as good dancing once you’re under the influence.

With several rounds of this, you’re still not completely satisfied, but you know that you never will be and force yourself away from the full-length mirror. You have makeup to do. Your friend who’s better at makeup than you offers to do your eyes. While she’s doing this, she tells you about all the products she’s using and how they’ve “literally changed her life” and you begin to believe that this under eye concealer could literally change yours too.

The next thing you know, everyone’s ready and it’s picture time. “I need to be on the outside,” you say, knowing that your body will look perfectly proportional in the picture if only you can turn to the side.

You rush to the camera to get a look at the pictures and being disappointed in the way you look, beg the girl who took them not to post any on Instagram until you’ve edited and approved them.

It’s almost time to leave and you’re already exhausted. You’re too self-conscious to even think about going out in public.

“Shots!” a girl yells. Maybe if you get drunk, you’ll forget about your insecurities for a bit.

.     .     .

If reading this makes you anxious, it’s time we reevaluate what we, as women, are doing to ourselves each weekend before we go out.

We’ve all done this. It starts out exciting and fun, you and a bunch of girlfriends being girly together. But too often it becomes something else, a group of women feeding off of each others insecurities.

Many women in college experience this every weekend, though it’s hard to see how messed up it all is until it’s written out altogether. It’s a self-destructive routine that we continue to put ourselves through even when it always ends in feeling defeated.

What is it about the event of “getting ready” together that is so destructive?

It emphasizes the idea that women have to look perfect in order to leave the house. Instead of going out in whatever way we feel comfortable, we feel the need to create a perfected version of ourselves.

Doing this in a group only enhances our securities. Each of us knows what it’s like to hear another girl complaining about a part of her appearance and instantly second guess that same thing on ourselves.

Of course, obliterating the tradition of getting ready altogether would be over-the-top, because there are certainly fun things about it. I believe that there’s a way in which we women can get ready together and have it be a positive experience for everyone.

We need to commit to avoiding the bashing of our appearances. This includes bashing the appearances of others and especially bashing our own appearances. We have to agree to speak positively about ourselves in this anxiety-producing environment, difficult as it may be.

In this way, we can build each other up and choose not to compete with each other. We can leave the house being the most confident, self-loving versions of ourselves.

Follow Lindsay McWilliams on Twitter @lindsaymacwill

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Lindsay McWilliams

Lindsay McWilliams