This article was written as part of a series for our partnership with The Sophia Way where we helped tell the stories of women experiencing homelessness in a new way – using humor to discuss the challenges they face everyday and appreciate their strength and resourcefulness.
Push snooze four times, skip brushing your hair, and maybe your teeth too. Walk out in the same clothes and make-up from the night before and do hot yoga to get the right smell. This is me and I have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house and the privilege to look like shit.
If you ask my old college roommate Keri, who became homeless 3 months ago, she would say the homeless never want to look homeless. You don’t want the job you are applying for to guess you sleep with 30 other women (unless that works to get you the job). You don’t want the potential apartment landlord to guess you have no recent references. So, some lipstick, nice shoes and hair brushed is necessary to try and camouflage the pain and desperation in a really shit situation.
Me on the other hand, I walk around with worn Lululemons, a dreaded bun and smeared eyeliner most days. No risk of being asked for references. I can’t remember the last time I had to reference my sorry ass. I complain about parking costs and lineups at Whole Foods. Keri became a vegetarian in the hope of getting a job at Whole Foods.
I sometimes look like I have slept rough for days on end when actually I have been logging 10 hours sleep per night on my memory foam. Keri says the last memory foam she slept on remembered a lot more about other people than she cared to think about.
I have to drink coffee and have a glass of wine, like book ends to my day to cope with my stress. Keri says a coffee and a glass of wine per day will pay for her son’s soccer fees and uniform for the year.
I sometimes have leftover muffin in my hair or sushi rice stuck to my butt. Keri says she would laugh at how sloppy and even dirty the customers are in trendy cafes while the staff making minimum wage look gorgeous, groomed and well put together.
I can get up and be out of the house in 10 minutes and this is only because I have to pee and check my phone. Keri told me she never leaves the house without washing and getting fully ready in case an opportunity is close by.
I usually throw my eyeliner away after the first break, those sharpeners never work. Keri uses every drop of make-up and will mix cheaper products with more expensive to extend their use.
High heels are not for me, I am feminist after all. When Keri ran from her husband she packed her high heels first (she knew she had a lot of job interviews in front of her… plus she could use them in a pinch if someone tried to attack her).
I take time off shaving. Who cares, hairy armpits, legs, under lip, chin… Shall I go on, my hair does. Keri never wanted anyone to guess she couldn’t shower and dry shaved every day. Still does.
I can’t say I have changed but after learning Keri had become homeless, I know that my shit look is actually a choice.
I have the privilege to look like shit and my friend does not.