I was struck by a thought while straightening my hair this morning. When does the idea of perfection become unrealistic? At the Womens Expert Cycling Forum last Thursday, I heard frustration about being a woman and a cyclist. The source of the blame was expressed as the need for “blowdrying.” The woman recounting this was an experienced cyclist with a perfectly coiffed bob, makeup, and a lovely dress. I put the straightening iron away. It would be the last time that I would touch my hair, apart from finger combing after removing my helmet. I started to apply my makeup quickly and was ready to start my day. My husband Justin had taken the kids to school and childcare early and I had a few precious minutes alone to compose myself for the day.
I felt sad that a hairdryer could be a barrier for many women to cycle regularly to work. One could argue that the benefits of cycling for your health, both mental and physical, far outweigh the emotional need that many of us have to look perfect.
It reminded me of the time that I went to the Northern Territories on a bush tour when I first came to Australia in 2003. I didn’t shower for a week but I did fall asleep under the Southern Cross every night. I heard dingoes howling in the distance. I dug my own personal pit toilet in the desert sand every night. During the heat of the day, we enjoyed refreshing dips in water holes. We ate well by campfire. Our guide had a satellite telephone in the 4WD. When I was able to shower at the end of the trip, I felt so clean, but most importantly, had sensational experiences which would last forever. I remember the tour group expressing surprise at my appearance in a dress, with clean hair and makeup. Their faces have faded from my memory and the feeling of unwashed has been long forgotten. Only the memory of the trip has remained.
I ask you as a result, Dear Reader. Is the need to look perfect every day realistic? Just do the best that you can. Find a great stylist and communicate your needs. A great stylist will work with you and your lifestyle, not against you. Switch if you aren’t satisfied. Instead of riding a road bike, if you have a long commute to the city, try an e-bike. It’s still a great workout, just not as sweaty. I have had keratin treatments and they have been very effective for my hair. I have found keratin “deals” all over the city. Try different helmets and tying your hair back. It’s a well known fact that it’s better to wash your hair less. I tend to wash my hair twice a week. It makes the keratin last longer too.
But most of all, stop judging yourself so harshly. So often, we are our own harshest critics. Silence please to that voice! Instead, tell yourself, “I’m doing the best that I can” because you know that you are.
Today’s ensemble: ASOS Dress, J.Crew booties, Big W sunglasses, Yakkay Helmet, Lovisa earrings and necklace, Cartier Santos, Kryptonite Lock, eZee Sprint bicycle.