How to Look Put Together

A woman in white gloves fixing her hair

In my high school, the regional slang word tossed my way was “scurvy.” From biology to history, it passed through the lips of my peers. It was the word of choice for an unkempt individual. “Scurvy.”  Considering my state of perpetual starvation, they could have been referring to my vitamin C deficiency, but that was probably a lost irony.

I certainly felt “scurvy.” My mother decided to move us onto an acreage with no running water or electricity, but plenty of farm animals and inbred cats. I was perpetually covered in animal hair, five weeks between showers, and reeking of second-hand smoke and first-hand perspiration. I was so greasy I could have been cold-pressed into a fine and abundant source of cooking oil.

Strangely, post-high school I still felt “scurvy.” I had an income and a pet- and smoke-free home and daily showers, yet I still was… unkempt. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. There was just something, not tightly kept together, and while I have long come to terms with my satan-given looks, I would always be disappointed when I glimpsed in the mirror. My shit was not “on fleek” as I had always yearned for it to be.

I had a thirtieth birthday recently. I went to a masquerade ball, danced, drank champagne and had a grand old time. My friends had taken some candid pictures of me that turned up on facebook the next day. There I was, staring up at myself from the timeline feed, finger waves perfectly coiffed, skin matte yet dewy, not an eyelash astray. I looked completely put together and it filled me with a sort of joy that didn’t feel superficial at all.

I am a strong proponent of “no right way to be, look, or dress.” I still must admit: it felt good. It felt important. Because it has always been important to me: the ability to pull myself together and present myself the way I wanted to be seen. So I wanted to share what I have learned on my journey from scurvy teenager to seamless adult. These are the tips I have on how to look put together.

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