Quarantine Is Hard, But It’s Time to Stop Cheating Yourself

French woman having coffee on her balcony
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When I was younger, one of my favorite movies was Auntie Mame. If you’ve never seen this 1958 classic starring Rosalind Russell, it’s such a gem. Well, other than the blisteringly racist supporting characters, But hey, that’s classic Hollywood for you.

Mame is an exuberantly glamorous woman, living her best life in a swanky New York apartment, raising her orphan nephew, and getting into screwball hijinks. Her motto is “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

If Mame Dennis was around today, stuck inside for almost a year during a pandemic, you can bet that she’d have a brand-new outfit (and wig) for every Zoom happy hour. You can see her legacy in Moira Rose (Catherine O’Hara) on Schitt’s Creek, too. No matter what circumstances life throws at these characters, they never stop being fabulous.

The isolation, frustration, and fear of 2020 has taken a toll on all of us. I don’t know about you, but there have been times (read: months on end) where it felt like the best I could do was leggings and frozen pizza. I haven’t worn lipstick since March. And although my apartment is reasonably tidy, I’m not bothering to decorate for the holidays this year. After all, why bother if no one will see it?

We tend to be more willing to put forth extra effort for other people, but we won’t do the same things for ourselves. But being fabulous when no one else can see you is kind of fun. In fact, on the days when I bothered to fix my hair, fire up the “good” scented candles, or make a nice meal just for me, my mood improved overall.

Over the weekend, I put on a fringed velvet kimono jacket over my pajamas just for the heck of it. I felt slightly ridiculous, but it was also a lot of fun to play dress-up in my own closet. I gave myself a pedicure even though literally no one else will be seeing my feet anytime in the next six months.

What Is Glamour?

Glamour is an old Scots variation on the word gramarye, or grammar. In the early 18th century, both words were associated with people who studied the dark arts. At the time, anyone who studied things in books was viewed with suspicion, and the line between scholars and magicians was blurred. In folktales and modern fantasy writing, a “glamour” is a spell that changes your appearance or clouds the minds of others.

Glamour is, in a word, magic. It’s transformative–and not just for other people.

It’s also not just about wearing pretty clothes or makeup. A glamorous lifestyle is one that delights in beauty and grace. It appreciates art and music, quality over quantity, and sophistication. It probably doesn’t involve sweatpants, ramen, and binge-watching Netflix.

Please, darling, in this house, we watch TV in silk pajamas.

How Can Your Life Be More Glamorous?

Your personal glamour doesn’t have to look like mine. While the polished charm of vintage Hollywood and Old World Europe appeals to me, that’s not a universal standard for glamour. You don’t have to drink champagne (unless you want to) or spend money on luxury items that hold no meaning for you.

Mostly, I think it means treating yourself the way you would an honored guest. Setting the table before you eat–including a cloth napkin and a candle or some flowers–completely transforms the act of dining. Wear your favorite jewelry or an outfit you’d usually reserve for special occasions. Bake something you’d normally only make for a party where you want to impress people. Wear the nice underwear.

Glamour is more than skin deep, of course. Glamour icons are a little mysterious, even reserved. They’re kind, gracious, and interested in the world around them. Poise is another good word when you’re trying to cultivate a more glamorous life. You know that famous meme with the Real Housewives screaming at each other while a cat looks on? That’s… the opposite of poise.

Another tip? Good posture can have a surprising effect on your mood. I don’t know about you, but I spend way too much time crouched over my laptop in a darkened room, slowly turning into Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

Learning another language is a total glamour move. Studying other countries and cultures is wonderful, too, so that you can be a well-informed globe-trotting traveler when the pandemic ends. Wear sunscreen and moisturize. Exercise regularly and eat well so that you can keep being fabulous for a long, long time. Indulge in little luxuries when you can. And above all, cultivate a sense of calm that will help you glide through even the most challenging situations like the majestic swan you are.

You owe it to yourself to glamour up your life, pumpkins. Take it from Auntie Mame and me.

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