The Not-So-Pretty side of being an Outdoors Woman

The Hair.

Messy hair, don’t care? Good. Because when you spend every minute you can outside, say goodbye to blowouts and cute curls. You will find yourself embracing such classic styles as ponytails and braids. And sure, there is lots of play to be done with those basics, but anything but the tightest braid will soon be undone when you get above the tree line on a mountain hike. In my world, every bun is a ‘messy bun’ even if it doesn’t start out that way. I have not blow dried or straightened my hair on a regular basis in years, because…why bother? My favourite hair accessory these days? A hat.

hair

^Messy Mountain Hair

Good luck with a manicure.

I can spend an hour clipping, filing and painting my nails, meticulously painting on the layers: base coat, two coats of colour followed by a topcoat. And then sit around and not touch anything for the next hour to let the polish dry and harden. And no matter what I do, by noon the next day there will be chips and scratches. Nail polish is one of those things that I have given up on as part of my daily life. I used to be the type of girl who matched her polish to her outfits, now I’m happy when I can scrub all of the dirt out of my nail beds.

Lips that turn heads.

But not for a good reason. I have tried pretty much every lip chap on the market, and while some are better than others, none seem to be able to really quench my dry lips long term. So I do my best, and use an SPF lip balm whenever I’m outside, but my lips will never be described as sexily pouty and smooth. I try to avoid lipstick even on nights out because that just seems to make everything worse.

Tan lines.

Unless you go au-natural 24/7, you will collect an unusual assortment of tan lines over the course of a summer. All those super cute strappy performance tanks? Think of the total of all of those lines, from every tank you own, in a pattern on your skin. By the end of summer, that’s what I’ve got going on. No matter how many times you wear a strapless top or go out in a bikini, the tan lines will add up. Also, sock tans are a thing that happens. My feet are usually about 5 shades lighter than the rest of me because of wearing hiking boots every day.

Calluses.

On your feet, your heels, your hands… I once shook another woman’s hand upon being introduced and she looked at me shocked and asked what had happened to my hands. As an outdoors woman, a firefighter and someone who lifts weights, my hands have calluses to rival the grittiest construction worker. Sure I use hand cream, but these calluses are permanent. And as for my feet? You don’t even want to know. But I am going to tell you anyways. I live in boots; whether it be hiking boots for guiding or steel-toed boots for working at the fire hall, boots are what I am used to and what I wear day-in-day-out. When I’m off work, I wear my Blundstones because they are comfortable and at the end of a long day, that is pretty much all my feet care about. Someone gifted me with a pedicure a couple of years ago and when the poor woman looked at my feet, I swear she was ready to cry. I tried to convince her that she didn’t need to try and file off the calluses, but she tried… and I regretted it for weeks afterwards! Those calluses had been what was cushioning my feet and losing them just meant I had to get them back in the form of incredibly painful blisters in what had previously been my comfiest boots.

toes

<Thanks to my calluses, I can walk across rocks for the best spot in a hot spring like a pro

High heels? No thanks.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a pair of cute heels as much as the next girl. But put me in heels and I walk like a new born calf. Sexy, right? I am just so used to wearing comfortable, stable footwear with good ankle support that putting me in heels for any period of time is torture.

Crusty noses and bruises, scrapes and bumps:

I know what you are probably thinking: this article is getting grosser by the minute. Sorry? Not really though. This is the honest-to-goodness truth of being an outdoors woman that you sure won’t see on Instagram. When you are hiking, face into the wind up a mountain for hours, your nose is going to run. No matter how many tissues you have, or if your gloves have that lovely nose-wiper patch built into the thumb, when you get back to the trailhead, you will have a moderately crusty nose.

I don’t bruise bruiseeasily, but in the course of scrambling up mountains and hiking through wooded areas, you can almost always find an assortment of bruises and scrapes on me. I don’t mind, its all part of the experience. But between firefighting and hiking, I sometimes look like I got beat up. Add black fly bites around my eyes and I can be a bit of a hot mess.

<One of my more recent bruises

As gross as some of these things probably sound, any outdoors woman will tell you that it is worth every bit of pain and grossness to do the things that we do. When your nose is crusty from the cold or wind, you are too busy living life to notice or care. All of the calluses? They represent hours of hard work and fun. Every wonky tan line represents a great memory of a day in the sun. My lips may be chapped, but they are always smiling. The prettiest women are the happy ones, and nothing makes me happy like being outside living life to the fullest. And besides, wild is its own kind of beautiful. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m trying to wrestle my hair into a ponytail and rolling my eyes at the 7 different sets of tan lines on my shoulders 😉

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^Moments like this make every scrape, bruise and callus worth it.

P.S. I would like to note that most of us clean up pretty damn nicely when we have to. We would just rather be on a mountain than in a mall.

 

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