My friend Ala got the idea several months ago. “I’m going to host a gala event for women in the dead of winter. It will be after the holidays when women are worn out and sick of the cold. It will be all about celebrating their strength and beauty. Are you in?”
It was impossible to resist Ala’s enthusiasm, but as the event drew nearer I admit that my own excitement started to wane. I was busy at work and had a million other priorities. My own beauty – inner or otherwise – was the last thing that was on my mind. I was focused on growing my business, paying the bills and getting my daughter through her final months of high school. I was so uninterested, in fact, that, as the date drew nearer I kept postponing buying my ticket, much less looking for my one gala-worthy dress.
And my friends were feeling the same way. One was “hibernating” while another was “reading by the fire in my yoga pants.” Other friends had events happening on the same night as the gala, or any number of other reasons why they couldn’t come.
And I totally got it. I love reading in front of the fire in yoga pants. I really do… That, in fact, sounds to me like a pretty perfect day. And I would have preferred that kind of evening to getting dressed up and going out. But Ala was not going to let me off that easy. She dropped into my work two nights before the gala. “You know, you can still get tickets at the door,” she informed me, happily. “This is such an important event for women. Thank you so much for supporting me.”
I had no date and still hadn’t found my dress, but I just couldn’t say no. The gala happened to fall on the day of the Women’s March, so it really was the perfect time to be at an event that was being held in honor of women. And I did want to support my friend, so I grudgingly confirmed that I’d be there.
Even as the day arrived I procrastinated, waiting until the last possible moment to start getting ready. Digging in a box of clothes I found my dress and prayed it would fit. I started doing my hair and makeup, brought out the good perfume and the sparkly jewelry, and somewhere along the way I started having fun. My daughter told me I looked “pretty” and that she was glad I was going. That gave me a boost of energy and I dragged myself out the door.
When I arrived at the very-nice venue with other glitzed up ladies (and men too), I started to see what my friend was talking about. Yes, it was important that we take the time to get dressed up and get out of the house every now and then. And it was fun, being in that crowd of sparkles and positivity. I got to reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen for a long time. I got to hear some uplifting speeches and donate a bit of cash for a good cause.
There is so much more to a woman than how she looks. We are all deeper and more complex than the brand and application of our hairspray, makeup and heels, but there really is something empowering about getting dressed up and going out for no other reason than to honor ourselves and to support one another. I’m grateful to my friend for being so persistent (and insistent) with me. When next year’s event comes around you can be sure that I’ll be the one going around to the hibernators and the yoga-pant-wearing-readers and pulling them out of the house, even just for one night of honoring and celebrating our womanhood and ourselves.