Women hear this complaint a lot. “Why does it take you so long? What are you DOING in there? Sometimes smoke comes out under the door and I can hear ritual chanting!” To which I say, firstly: if I have to summon The Dark Lord Satan to get my ass into these jeans then that is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, SIR, and secondly: I would like to see you shave even ONE of your legs in under five minutes, considering your face takes you at least ten.
But in all seriousness, if you want to know why ladies take so long to get ready to go out, I’ll tell you. In fact, I’ll compare it to the things you have to do, for extra clarity.
What men do to their hair before going out:
1: Wash it. Just shampoo, no conditioner. Sometimes just shower gel. (MEN: I KNOW YOU ARE DOING THIS.)
2: Rub it with a towel.
What women do to their hair before going out:
2: If you’re a real stickler for the instructions on the label, shampoo again.
4: Comb through heat protective spray.
5: Do vicious battle with eight billion knots.
6: Towel dry.
7: Blow dry.
The fact that I can do my hair before the average day at work without getting up two hours after I go to bed is, frankly, a miracle. You think taking three quarters of an hour before a date is bad? Please.
What men do to their body before going out:
1: Jump in the shower.
2: Apply Lynx shower gel.
3: Get out of the shower.
What women do to their body before going out:
1: Get in the shower.
2: Apply shower gel.
3: Apply exfoliating scrub.
4: Apply baby oil.
5: Shave underarms.
6: Shave legs.
7: Shave anything else that might require shaving.
8: Pat dry.
9: Talcum powder.
It has taken me like seven years of ‘womanhood’ to get this routine down to ten minutes and I am seriously pretty impressed with myself. I don’t even accidentally wound myself with my razor any more… or at least, you know, not too often.
What women do to their face before going out:
4: Apply foundation.
5: Remove half of foundation.
6: Apply some more foundation on the bits which, it turns out, needed foundation after all.
7: Try to copy a fancy eye makeup technique from Pinterest.
8: This will always look shit, so remove it and just do your regular eye makeup.
9: Apply mascara to left eye.
10: Jab yourself in the right eye with the mascara wand, causing tears to pour down your face and ruin the mascara you already applied AND your foundation.
11: Give up, settle for damage control, try not to think about it too much.
What men do to their face before going out:
1: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING EVER.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty bitter about this part of the routine – I’d skip it entirely, but whenever I wear no makeup at all someone asks me if I’m feeling ill, and I’d rather spend a few minutes sponging goo onto my face than deal with the embarrassment. A female boss once told me I looked ill when I turned up with no makeup on. I felt fine, but I was so offended that I agreed that I felt shitty and went home. The lesson here is: DON’T COMMENT NEGATIVELY ON A WOMAN’S FACE EVER FOR ANY REASON. At least not if you don’t want to do all of that day’s data entry yourself, bitch.
What women do to their nails before going out:
1: Remove existing nail varnish.
2: Butcher cuticles with a little torture stick.
3: Attempt to stem the bleeding.
6: Polish looks like it was applied by a shaking five year old. Remove and reapply.
7: Polish looks worse than before. Remove and just apply clear polish.
What men do to their nails before going out:
1: Chew them if they’re looking a bit long.
It should be noted at this point that I don’t often have nails that can be described as anything other than ‘ragged stumps’, so that part was largely conjecture. Seems accurate, though.
How women get dressed before going out:
1: Reject the outfit you had originally planned.
2: Put on another outfit.
5: Eight times.
6: End up in the original outfit.
How men get dressed before going out:
I just… ugh. You know what, yes, I could get ready in the time it takes you. Say it takes you fifteen minutes. In fifteen minutes, I could stand under a shower, put some goo on my hair and let it rinse out while I gave myself a cursory once-over with some shower gel. I could blow-dry my hair to the point where it merely looks damp and stringy instead of full-on drowned rat, and I could put on an outfit I know I like – say, some Levis and a hoody and those boots that make me look like a piratess in a gay bar. Maybe there would be a few seconds spare at the end to dig a lip balm out of a drawer. My teeth might even get brushed. But I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to sit opposite me in the fancy restaurant if this was all the preparation I had undertaken, and you’d feel pretty ripped off when I ordered the fattest, most expensive steak on the menu. Which I would. You think I’m joking? I once ate a 32oz steak and made room for dessert.
The thing is, it doesn’t benefit men to complain about women taking the time to get ready, because we take that long for the sake of men. You think I care if my legs have a two-day stubble?! Do you know why I shave them? Because of the boyfriend who once called me ‘velcro’ for two weeks after I didn’t bother shaving for one date. Do you know why it takes me five minutes to apply what I consider to be the ‘correct’ layer of foundation for an evening out? Because of the dude who told me restaurant lighting makes womens’ skin look ‘blotchy’. Do you know why I will try on eight outfits and end up in the first one I picked? Because of the boyfriend who couldn’t be bothered to offer a single opinion while I was clothes shopping but would wrinkle his nose at ANYTHING I bought the second I got it home and took the fucking tag off.
You see, guys, you might think your girlfriend ignores your opinions, but let me assure you: your ignorant, ridiculous bullshit IS getting through to her. You want to know why your girlfriend stinks of fake tan and has acrylic talons and staggers around in heels that are obviously causing her agony? Because you – yes, YOU – give her the impression that that’s what she needs to do to impress you. You, who doesn’t even own a fucking moisturiser.
Now I know, I know, this doesn’t apply to all men. Or even to all women. It’s just that you hear this old standard – that women take FOREVER to get ready OH MY GOD – so often, and it’s so irritating, so cliché and so ridiculous paired with the equally constant subliminal message that women must look their best at all times. Yes, I want to look nice. Not particularly so society will accept me, but because I feel more comfortable knowing I am clean and well-presented, and while my boyfriend makes it very clear he loves me and is attracted to me even when I wake up with last night’s eyeliner all over my face and my apparently sentient hair attempting to build a cosy birds’ nest, I enjoy his appreciation when I do put in some extra effort. You just can’t have it both ways. I can take ‘ages’ to get ready and as a result have shiny hair, smooth legs, a nice outfit and an even skin tone, or I can do it in fifteen minutes and look like the most important thing I have to do today is get the bus to Tesco.
The thing is, either way: it’s my choice, and it is none of your goddamn business how long it takes.