I Gave Up Hiding Beauty Secrets From My Partner

I lived in fear that if my boyfriend found out that it took more than a slick of deodorant and a blast of soap and water to make me look pretty, he'd go find the real thing.

Jan 13, 2014 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

When I was 21, I moved in with my first For Real Serious Boyfriend whom I genuinely liked more than 95% of the time. 
 
We had been friends for years in college, then our friendship blossomed into romance, and before I knew it, our romance turned into a RELATIONSHIP, and our RELATIONSHIP threw my beauty routine into tumult. 
 
The second thing I remember thinking when my boyfriend asked me to move in with him -- the first being "OH MY GOD I'VE SEEN THIS HAPPEN ON TV!" -- was "S#@t…I'm going to look bad."
 
You see, even though I thought I exuded the cool, calm, demeanor of the Effortless Girlfriend -- the girlfriend who rolled out of bed, threw on some worn-in jeans, tousled her sexy-messy hair, and smelled like clean laundry all the time -- some serious work went into looking and smelling "breezy."
 
For the first two months or so of living with my boyfriend, I hid the wax I used to pull out my hairs (I used to wax everything and everybody, I'd wax YOU if you'd hold still), I hid the potions I'd use to make my locks look "sexy-messy, "and any perfecting lotions or creams for my skin or thighs or ass were hidden under the sink behind the TAMPONS. 
 
I strategically pooped for months. 
 
One time my boyfriend jokingly mentioned a nipple hair he spied on my boob (never funny), and after wailing like one of those professional Albanian lamenting women, I hid in the bathroom after my boyfriend went to sleep, and de-haired everything on my body that would not look weird de-haired. 
 
I lived in fear that if my boyfriend found out that it took more than a slick of deodorant and a blast of soap and water to make me look like the cool, casual gal he saw before him, he'd call "BULLSHIT" and go find the real thing. 
 
Why did I give him so much power?
 
It made so much sense at the time. I was "keeping my man interested" like the magazines and TV shows were telling me to do, and as much as I didn't want to admit it to myself, I was terrified that The Real Gross Lou would mess up my first real relationship. I feared I was fundamentally unlovable in my natural state. 
 
More than 10 years out from my 21-year-old self, I want to shake her and say, "YOU DO YOU, LOU! DON'T LET ANYBODY CONTROL YOUR POOPS! OR YOUR HAIRS!"
 
But then I couldn't take it anymore. I snapped. I couldn't stand being "on" in my own home anymore, and I made the conscious decision to let it all hang out -- literally. 
 
My boyfriend had gotten up early to go to his server job at a restaurant, and I had the the day off. We'd been out late the night before, and when I rolled out of bed in just my underwear at around noon, it was hot and humid and awful. Knowing my boyfriend would be home in a couple hours from his shift, I contemplated for a moment showering and putting on clothes, and making myself look adorably undone, but the idea was just too daunting. 
 
So still in just my underpants, I dragged my self to the kitchen where I made myself a big pot of my favorite hangover food -- plain spaghetti with butter and salt -- and hunkered down sweaty and hungry on our couch, to watch my favorite guilty pleasure at the time, "Newlyweds," that show about Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. 
 
When my boyfriend arrived home later, he found me still chomping on buttery spaghetti in just my underpants, a little bit of last night's makeup still gooped on my eyes, but happy as a clam. 
 
I'm pretty sure from that day on, I never hid any of my beauty stuff -- or lack thereof -- ever again. 
 
That relationship eventually ended, not because of spaghetti and underpants, but because of the real stuff that eventually ends a relationship, different wants and needs and in this case, mostly long distance. 
 
But what I've held onto from that first real relationship was the idea that for me to be a good partner, and now spouse, is that I cannot hide any of the good, bad, or ugly from my partner. It makes my anxious, and anxiety makes me mean, and if I can control any of the variables in my life that contribute to my anxiety, I will. 
 
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Lookin' good together on a cross country, red-eye flight. No secrets when you cross ALL the time zones. 

 
Then this article came to my attention about the beauty secrets women hide from their spouses or partners. 
…a third of women think their partner would be absolutely mortified if he knew the true extent of what took place behind the bathroom door for half an hour every day.
Though I now scoff at such things on the Daily Mail's list of "Hidden Beauty" such as "exfoliate daily" or "wax/shave bikini line" there was a time when I would rather take a vow of celibacy than have my partner know that I did not wake up hair-free and with glowing skin. 
 
I guess what has really changed in my beauty regimen is the fact that I'm more concerned with my own vanity, as opposed to exclusively pleasing my partner. 
 
Do I openly pluck my nipple or belly hairs while lounging on the couch with my husband? No. But do I hide that I do such things? No. Do I do it for my husband? Maybe a little, but frankly, and it's a personal thing, I just don't like having hairy nipples. 
 
And it goes both ways. Does my husband openly dig ingrown hairs out of his neck? Nope. Does he hide the fact that that's why he's in the bathroom for 20 minutes? Not at all. Does he dig out his gnarly ingrown neck hairs for my benefit? Partially, because if left unchecked I'll attack them myself, but mostly because he can't stand to look at them. (I'm realizing I'm very hair-centric.)
 
Some of my friends say we've lost something. That over the years, the comfort my husband and I now enjoy has been at the expense of the mystery and allure that our secret grooming rituals afforded us. Some people say that we've lost some of the "sexiness" from our relationship. 
 
I know "letting it all hang out" isn't for everybody, and I respect, and at times even envy some couples commitment to keeping some mystery in their appearance. Sometimes I wonder if I need to gain some of that back. 
 
But this is what works for me, -- for us -- this is what feels intimate. Hair for hair, this is our sexy. 
 
Do you "let it all hang out" with your partner? Do you have any beauty secrets you hide? Any "pointing out the nipple hair" horrors ever happen to you? 
 
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My husband took this picture. This is not the face I thought I was making. Uh...this is our sexy?