I have periods where I think it would be cool to be a girl. And by girl, I mean a girly-girl, with make-up and handbags and stiletto heels. I also think it would be cute to have some flowers in my hair. In the past, these periods have faded quietly into oblivion. But this year has been different. Maybe it’s because I turned thirty. Maybe it was down to my bio-clock. Maybe it was just time. Whatever the reason, this time, I crawled over to the dark side. *dun dun dun duuuuun*

I got myself a make-over, complete with girly shoes and make-up lessons. It’s so much a part of me now that this morning, with no power, I made a lamp using a candle and my Mulika Mwizi phone. Why? There was blackout, and I needed the light to put on my make-up *shudder*.

Because I haven’t mastered the art of 2-Step-Mascara, it takes me fifteen minutes to put on. The extra twelve minutes are for scraping it off and starting all over again. I match my shoes with my bag with my scarf, all using a carefully prescribed recipe that was put together by my stylist. Yes, I have a stylist.When she banned four of my jeans and replaced them with four more, I couldn’t tell the difference, so she had to show me what went with what, complete with photographic tagging.

I like the new me. I feel classy, glamorous, and confident, and it only cost me 5K. I do feel bad though. For one thing, I no longer look like a creative. Sure I have the purple dreads and the requisite tattoos, but I look more like a consultant than an advertising pro.

When I first got into advertising, I wore a pretty black skirt and heels for my interview. The boss gave me a sideways look, but said nothing. On my second interview, I showed up in a t-shirt and jeans. As soon as the man opened the door, he sighed and said, ‘Phew!’ When I asked why, he said my earlier outfit had them worried. They didn’t think I was the right fit for the job. Apparently, creatives don’t dress up.

There don’t seem to be many girls in the Kenyan ad industry. No, let me rephrase that. Most girls in the ad industry are in client service or finance. We don’t have a lot of female art directors and copywriters. So as a girl in a mostly-male field, I’ve been getting away with jeans and hoodies. It’s one of the things I loved most about my job.

But now I’ve sold out and can routinely be seen in little skirts, stockings, and heels. Always with the heels. This week I even threw in a scarf. I do wear jeans, but they go with scarves and ribbons too. It’s a completely new thing for me, and it’s also a little … awkward. I mean, I do feel beautiful, but I also feel a little guilty and out of place.

My mum loves that I finally look like I’m going to work when I’m, you know, going to work. And it’s cool that my neighbours no longer think I’m a clueless college kid. But I can’t help feeling like I’ve lost a piece of myslef. I quite liked looking like a 22 year old. I took a twisted pleasure in rebelling against attempts to get [me and] my wardrobe to ‘grow up’. I feel sad that now I’m just like everybody else.

I suppose there’s some good in letting go of bad habits that don’t serve you. But sometimes, those bad habits are part of who you are, and it’s hard to drop those parts. Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I think, “Wow! Pretty!” But I also think I’m not quite me anymore, and that makes me really sad. I feel like I’ve lost a major part of myself, and even though that part wasn’t particularly useful, it was still me, and I miss it.

I suppose the outward change is really just a symptom of the growth I feel inside. My self worth is improving, and for the first time in my life, I feel it’s time to stop playing the field and settle down. That could just be my hormones talking, bio-clocks and sell-by dates and things like that, I don’t know for sure. All I know is it doesn’t seem so bad that someone somewhere might want to put a ring on it. I just hope I won’t have to cook.

In related news, my baby and I attended an event over the weekend. It involved pizza, macadamia nuts, and cake, and she got a touch of indigestion … which ended with her throwing up in a matatu. Luckily, the makanga was very kind and didn’t make a fuss. When we alighted 200 metres from our house, I saw my gorgeous neighbour a few feet ahead. I thought long and hard about whether or not I should say hi. After all, I was covered in puke, my clothes were a mess, I was exhausted, I had tons of baggage (from the party), and I looked anything but glamorous.

Before I could think, I had called his name, and he turned. Here’s the thing about being a girly-girl. You do not want the hot boy to see you looking less than stellar. And that boy is HOT! Still, the damage was done. I managed to keep a plastic smile on my face while he ooh-ed and aah-ed over my beautiful daughter, and didn’t say a word about the mess. Adorable.

Still, after that mishap, I do feel like I have a point to prove. I feel the irrepressible urge to dress up just to go to the kiosk, in case I bump into him again. Of course I could always knock on his door and ask for sugar. It’s what I would have done a month ago. But that would be way too obvious, and classy ladies are never obvious. Everything has it’s downsides I guess, and I have to learn to fit into the role. Sigh.

I was talking a to a good friend, and he pointed out that I’ve made a career out of being a rebel. I’ve done every possible thing to be ‘different’, even when the actions themselves didn’t serve me. I didn’t feel like I fitted in anywhere, so I went out of my way to prove that I was out of place. I embraced the tomboy image even though I don’t like sports or beer and I punch like a girl. There’s nothing tomboyish about me except the refusal to wear a skirt. Or do my hair. Or wear pink.

From that frame of mind, it makes sense that I feel like improving myself is a betrayal. By adjusting into society’s idea of a sophisticated, self-possessed woman, I feel like I’ve somehow sold out. I suppose you could call it a fear of success, even though I’m cloaking it as a fear of blending in, an aversion to no longer being ‘different’. Or maybe I just finally grew up, and my Inner Petra Pan won’t let me go.

One aspect of being girl that I have issues with is smart-freezing. As part of my new beauty regimen, I wear a dress every Friday. So last week, I threw on this pretty patterned thing with brown tights and beige flats. I looked and felt absolutely gorgeous! The compliments helped, and I was literally walking on air, if you’ll pardon the cliché.

I was a bit bothered about the (lack of) heat factor, seeing as I generally live in heavy jeans and padded hoodies. But I had a little girly sweater, and the tights kept my feet relatively warm. Plus, being a girly-girl does have its upsides, like random lifts from long-lost friends. So I was fine for the first half hour at the office. Then, we had to go to the studio for a recording. Also, it started to rain.

I’ve always been on the other side of this equation. I used to be the girl that tsk-tsked at my beautifully laid out sisters as they pottered around in their teeny-weeny-minis and their crazy heels in the rain, while I lumbered by in warm sweatshirts and jeans. I used to snigger as they wobbled by in their dizzy 6-inch wedges while I sprinted past in comfy canvas sneakers.

So maybe it’s just kharma. Or maybe there are some secrets that I’m yet to discover. Like how to wear a skirt and not have goosebumps on your legs. Or how to fit an umbrella [and trench coat] in a teeny tiny purse. Or how to get that hot guy over there to surrender his jacket. Or how to shiver with a smile, make no sound, and keep your lips completely closed.

♫ Breathe Slow ♫ Alesha Dickson

132 thoughts on “Operation Girly Girl Commences in 5 … 4 … 3 …

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