say it to my face

There’s an episode in season four of Mad Men in which Peggy does a presentation with lipstick on her teeth. The guys think it’s funny, but it wasn’t. She didn’t care because the pitch went well, and the client loved it.

I was on the phone with Thing 2 and after telling her about it, I said, “You know what it reminds me of?”
Without hesitation she says, “Booka!”
(Booka was name Thing 1 and Thing 2 called their father’s mother.)
My former mother in law was notorious for going about with lipstick on her teeth. And do you know no one would ever tell her. Well, that buck stopped here. (*points at self*)

Now, what y’all don’t know is that this mother in law was the born the same decade as my grandparents, so to say there was a generation gap is an understatement. But I never understood why people just let her go about her life with lipstick on her teeth!

So there we are, at some family thing (they had a huge extended family). She was sitting with a group of ladies, and I walk up with Thing 1 on my hip to hug her. I discreetly rub my finger over my teeth. She smiles and repeats the gesture before showing me her teeth. I give her the all clear.
She walks away with her son and I sit down in the seat she vacated.
I am instantly barraged by the hens.
Apparently I shouldn’t talk about things like that. It simply isn’t done. On top of that, I was disrespectful. I was rude. I wasn’t properly raised because young people don’t behave that way to their elders. etc.
(Fortunately my mother wasn’t there, she would have told them a thing or two about being raised properly.)
Well, I smile and pick up my daughter before I say as politely as possible, “I told her because I respect her. She shouldn’t have to go around like that because none of you are kind enough to tell her.”

She came to me later apologizing for the little old ladies. She expressed her gratitude. Literally no one ever told her but me and she was grateful.
What was their motivation? Do you just not talk about things ‘like that’? Were they secretly amused? To be perfectly honest, they were some of the nastiest women I’ve ever been around, and I suspect they liked that she was unaware.

This story got me thinking…
Surely y’all have seen this meme or at least something like it?

Isn’t it lovely to think it could be this way?
But is it our reality?
Girls are often told one thing, and shown another.

Girl Power should include all girls. It rarely does. Girls often learn to look out for themselves without real thought for each other.
You’ve heard it:
Slut.
Bitch.
The C word.
Did you see what she was wearing?
She has lipstick on her teeth.
Her dress is tucked into her tights.

There is pointing and behind the back conversations.
I’m not saying I’ve never talked shit about another girl behind her back, but I don’t think it’s right.

If my tag is hanging out, please tell me.
If I’ve got lipstick on my teeth, please tell me.
If you’re nasty about it, great. At least do it to my face, right?

I want to be a woman in a world in which we all adjust each other’s crowns without telling the world they were crooked.
It’s hard enough to be a girl/woman in this world without us being against each other. It really isn’t all that difficult to treat each other with kindness and respect.
We’ve been taught we’re nothing. While also being told we can be whatever we want.
Mixed messages.
That’s the life of a girl in our world.
It shouldn’t be.
It doesn’t have to be.
Yet here we are, tearing each other down for our own amusement.
We hardly need the patriarchy to hold us back, we’re so busy doing that to each other.

But there are women and girls out there who are kind. They treat themselves and other women with the respect every human being deserves. They are our inspiration.
That’s what the sisterhood should be.
We have to keep at it.
Less shit talk.
More crown straightening.
Starting with our own.
Tell me when there’s lipstick on my teeth, because you can damn sure bet I’ll tell you.
But not because I’m mocking or attempting to insult you, I want you to know so you can put your best foot forward. We have enough stacked against us, let’s not be against each other.

OK, this went a way I didn’t expect. But there you have it.
I didn’t realize how something so seemingly irrelevant was actually a pretty big deal.
Maybe being trapped at home is getting to me?
I don’t know.
Let’s just fucking be kind to, and stop judging each other, OK?

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “say it to my face

  1. Your summation says it all. Stop judging. Kindness and respect. We owe each other this! Great post!💗💗💗💗

  2. I’d have to agree with you – I would have told her, and I do think that’s a sign of respect (rather than disrespect) and sadly I also agree that some people seem to like when they see others making a in a predicament they’re unaware of, whether it’s lippy on teeth, loo roll stuck to your shoe or toothpaste smeared down your chin. I’d want to know, if it were me. I do find, as I’ve told people when something like this has happened, I feel embarrassed doing it; not for me, but for the other person, because I’d never want to make someone self-conscious or embarrassed. But yes, there’s a way to do these things and I don’t think not saying something while others are quietly snickering is a nice thing to do. Nicely done, Robyn!
    Caz xx

    • Thanks, Caz! ❤
      I agree with you that it's tricky to tell someone, something like that. I never want it to be perceived as disrespect. I always want to know.

  3. It all boils down to what we learned, hopefully, when we were youngsters – the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
    It applies to listening, how we talk, how we act in traffic, etc.
    I think also that we can inspire better behavior, much better than inspiring the opposite.
    Excellent rant, I am glad you ended it positively by reminding your readers to be kind.

    • I agree about the golden rule. What’s tricky about it, is that girls are told one thing but shown another. Sometimes it feels like we don’t stand a chance.
      But, kindness is key! And kindness is much simpler to put into practice than we’ve been lead to believe. ❤

  4. Hell yes, robynbird! This is on point, girl. I agree with my fellow readers that it comes down to living by The Golden Rule. I mean really, and truly living it. So many people claim to know it and understand it, but I think many give way to the “hen” mentality you describe. I want to live my life with integrity. I always want to question my intentions before acting upon them. Am I telling her she has lipstick on her teeth in order to help, or to hurt? May we all choose kindness, no matter how un-hip it may seem.

  5. I couldnt agree more! The amount of times I’ve worn winged liner at my old job at the coffee house, I’d be hot and rushing around and willing my liner down my face. Did my colleagues ever tell me? No!
    A customer would every now and then, but I’d be so embarrassed at the end of my shift I’d look in the mirror and look smudged and ridiculous.
    Also I left a sale tag in the back of a free which hung out and a nice lady stopped me, pulled the tag off, and tucked my label back in.
    Yes I agree it can be awkward and you dont know how people are going to react, but I’d rather try than leave them looking a fool xxxx

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