a natural woman garance dore illustrations A Natural Woman

A Natural Woman

Author Garance Doré

What happens when a New Yorker who’s relatively waxed, manicured, has her hair done (ok ok, partially done) and who is generally fairly well-groomed (generous applications of night serum included, even though she thinks it’s a pain to put on and doesn’t see a big difference between now and the blessed time when putting a little moisturizer on before going to bed felt like a heroic act) finds herself at the ends of the earth with her fairly recent boyfriend?

Like, at the ends of the earth in a little village in Corsica where there are only dirt roads and where the closest shower is at the end of a little nature trail?

Well, in her Instagram dreams, she would have brought along all her favorite beauty products. Each morning, she would have taken a cool shower to revitalize the tissues (that’s what we call skin in beauty language) then she would have applied a lotion with multiple benefits like protecting, firming, adding glow, and making you smell amazing. She would have anointed her silky hair with a delicate oil to get the famous “vacation locks” all the magazines are talking about, and she would have put on makeup so natural it’s almost invisible, “You’re such a natural beauty, my love” but stunning at the same time “Wow, your skin is as soft as a peach, it’s incredible”.

And she would have done a quick check every morning, of course, tweezers in hand, to make sure every misplaced hair was instantly obliterated. And each evening, after her shower and application of organic after-sun cream, she would have…Pffff, YEAH.

All of these things would have kept up a semblance of the lie dream of the chill BUT glamorous woman who is actually pretty easy to play when you’re in the city.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, here’s reality.

Let’s start by explaining the actual surroundings.

My village is small and really wild. There aren’t any paved streets – only dirt roads. No one cares about clothes, except for Marine (but deep down, even she doesn’t really care that much), everyone smokes and drinks and swears, and we laugh a lot. I stayed in a log cabin this time, which was sublime according to my standards (which are the Girolata standards – Gyp without the Set, actually. I love it, but there have been times when I brought friends and they flipped out and left right away. I’m not mad at them, though. Scott didn’t want to stay very long, for example. But I can understand – he doesn’t smoke or drink or swear and, since he grew up in cities, he hasn’t often found himself nose to nose with a sticky toad in the middle of the night. Total respect, ok! To each his own taste, color, and toad.)

Anyway, you get the point. To summarize, here’s a quote from my sister, Sacha: “I definitely want to go to Girolata, but only for one day. You can’t stay longer than that. When you take a shower there, you’re still dirty when you get out.”

It’s true that, in general, when you come back from Girolata, you’re brown. But since I grew up there, it seems perfectly normal to me.
So it’s tiny and wild, and I was hoping to stay beautiful.
I mean, stay presentable in the eyes of my guy.
Or, not end up totally caked with dirt, at least.

Bah. You know me.

First of all, it took me two days to find the shower (in Chris’ point of view: “It’s totally fine! We bathed in the sea!!!”) which was located behind our cabin, hidden behind a fig tree and unfortunately double locked (it took us another day to find the key) so I ended up taking showers with the garden hose (it might sound sexy, but water as cold as the Ice Bucket Challenge is only fun for about two seconds. Not even two seconds, actually.)
My hair got back its “Costa Rica” spirit – a ball of salty curls that I couldn’t pull back, so I tried to hide my hair under a sailor hat I found in a dusty corner of the cabin. (My brother’s reaction: “Uh, what exactly do you have on your head there?”)
I put on lotion exactly two times since, most of the time, my serum of choice was a generous application of anti-mosquito cream, face included, which probably explains the acne that’s been popping up on my cheeks the past couple of days) and plus, because of the stupid mosquitos, I couldn’t sleep very well, which gave me panda eyes (after 35, not sleeping well for one night equals a whole week without sleep at Burning Man when you’re 20) (my dad’s commentary: “Honey, you look exhausted, go take a nap!”)

So, obviously, we kept everything super classy, and when I got back to Ajaccio, I of course noticed that my bath water was brown. Just light brown, ok?

The real question in all of this isn’t: “Did Garance succeed in staying chic in these totally unfavorable circumstances?”
The question is: “What is the man’s reaction to this woman he hadn’t seen before? Should he celebrate the hairy return to nature? Pretend not to notice? Look away when certain images threaten to burn his retinas forever? (Me in the morning after a night of fighting mosquitos, after going to bed with wet, salty hair, because of midnight skinny dipping)? Be a man and support his woman at all costs?

I kept it simple and after watching the steady decline of all my aesthetic hopes, I asked him the question.

Disclaimer: Chris happens to really like being hairy and rolling around in nature. He’s a musician and wears a suit almost every day when he’s working – so, the rest of the time, extreme chillitude is the key. I like that about him, even though sometimes I do tell him, “hmmmm, maybe today you could run your fingers through your hair a little bit” (my mother’s commentary: “Chris doesn’t do much with his hair, does he?”) but most of the time, I leave him in peace, and I love him as he is, which is, not metrosexual at all.

But I happen to be rather metrosexual, actually, as a woman.
So he’s not super used to seeing me in my “natural” state.

So I asked him the question, and he responded like any self-respecting guy who wants to avoid a vacation breakdown worse than a thunder storm would: “No, but you look perfect!” Which left me in the same state of doubt.
I was still torn between a bunch of different thoughts — (should I make an effort and do something about this chipped nail polish?)(and put on a little makeup since I’m pretty sure someone might confuse me with Robert DeNiro at this point???)(I have funny references for describing myself now that I have short hair) and major laziness (no, it’s cool to let everything go once in awhile)(and mostly “pffffiouuuuu it would be such a pain to get my makeup bag out right now pffff)(and shave ouh la la pffff) and my feminist battles (come on, a man should love me exactly as I am!)(hmmmm A. Do I love myself as I am? or B. Did I just catch myself avoiding my reflection in the mirror?)(Answer: B) and also a sense of injustice (he hasn’t shaved in a week and no one’s bothering him about it, so…) !!!

I decided to bury all these questions in Corsican charcuterie, killing two birds with one stone by eating too much Coppa, which aggravated my waist size AND my (re) developing acne, and I decided to let the hairy storm pass.

Because, you see, today is the day we return to New York.
In 36 hours, I will go back to being a smooth, hairless New Yorker without acne. And I’m sure that, thanks to the marvelous tool that is the human brain, in 78 hours, the memories of our trip will start to fade, transforming my dreadlocks into silky strands, and my under-eye circles into a radiant smile.

We will forget about our mosquito-filled nights and we’ll blush when we’re reminded of diving naked into the blue, clear water. We will remember with joy the time we spent together, free, happy, and unshaven. And we’ll know deep down that whatever we’ve lost in mystery (whooooa baby, what is this pimple?) we’ve gained in intimacy. We’ll forget all about the acne, the frizzy hair, and my captain’s hat, in the long run.

Because happiness begins when you stop complicating everything.

Oh, and also, happiness is letting destiny take the wheel: Chris happened to lose his phone somewhere deep in the Mediterranean on a fishing trip.
No more proof of me letting myself go.
Hahahhahahahah. Heheheh. Haha.