Earlier this week I failed to adequately protect my face while sparring, and yep, I have bruises. It’s been 20 years since I’ve had a job in an office, not in a swimming pool. I didn’t think about what would happen the next morning. It’s a good thing my new co-workers know I’m “into” Karate. Still, one lady was a little taken aback by a teeny tiny little bruise on my lip. I began to think seriously about makeup.
Then I realized something. I landed this job without makeup. My previous job, the very first time I met the potential employer I was in a swimsuit and absolutely covered with livid bruises (talk about awkward). Why would one little bruise on my lip make me think about something that has not been a part of my identity ever since the day I forgot my makeup and my boyfriend (now my husband) said I look just fine without it?
The answer is that all my life, I’ve been told that women have to be beautiful like the dolls I once kept on hand for when friends visited (I played with Star Wars action figures). Don’t get me wrong, ladies – I appreciate beauty in all its forms and I don’t mind one bit if you look drop-dead gorgeous in your makeup and with your shiny long nails, dyed hair and perm. More power to ya! It’s just that form of self-expression is not for me – never has been except on very rare occasions. What’s hard for me is society’s expectation that I ought to be wired the same way you are.
There’s definitely gender inequality. If a man comes to the office with a black eye, everyone assumes he’s been doing something macho, like a bar fight or a Karate class, and it’s OK. If a woman sports a black eye, the automatic assumption is she’s being abused at home. Fortunately for me my co-workers can go to the building next door during lunch hour on Mondays and Wednesdays to see that I really am a karateka. But the complete stranger at the supermarket will assume the worst simply because I am a woman.
I know this attitude stems from concern. I appreciate that. So riddle me this – why is that same concern not generally extended to men? If a teenage guy has a bruise on his face, is it because “boys will be boys,” or is his father abusing him? Gender inequality again.
People – stop assuming. Do ask – many a life has been saved that way. But please – don’t treat me any differently than a guy who has a bruise. Either that or don’t treat guys who have bruises any differently than you’d treat a woman with a bruise 🙂