Russian language has a vast trove of colorful gems that remain on the fringes of literary norms. On different levels of obscurity even in the street vernacular, these nouns and adjectives often sound out-of-place in a refined discourse among educated adults. Yet, they often provide the most eloquent and brilliant descriptions for some commonplace phenomena.
Take, for instance, лахудра. Pronounced luh-WHO-druh (try “lump” without “m” and “p”, followed by stressed-syllable “who”, followed by “drug” without “g”), it means a slovenly, uncombed, unkempt woman. It is a derisive term, not meant to convey any degree of destitution, but rather an advance state of neglect of personal appearances. Which, astonishingly, can be glimpsed quite frequently in our environs.
Taking the kids to various activities, Natasha regularly comes in contact with other mothers bringing their children. A surprising portion of said mothers look like they just got out of bed, put on random outer garments and left their houses without given any thought to what they look like. Wearing what appears to be rumpled sleeping garments (or, at best, less-than-fresh track suits), their hair not having been touched by a brush for seemingly weeks, their faces showing not the slightest hint of make-up.
Ok, I’ll give it to you feminists out there that somewhere in your hard-core credo it is postulated that a woman is not truly emancipated until she is free from the make-up that the sexist society forced on her for untold generations. I’m sure if you subscribe to that you’re in a minority.
There is obviously a varying need “to impress” in the corporate world, and you are not likely to show up bedraggled and disheveled at a social event. In those instances, you either want to look good or you have to look good, but the bottom line is you will most probably choose to look good one way or another.
But, is making yourself presentable to an outside world something you do for other people or something you do for yourself? Away from business world or social occasions, why wouldn’t you go at least part of the way to keep a pleasant appearance. Even if you don’t care about others looking at you and thinking “what a лахудра!”, doesn’t your inner voice scream the same at you?
We don’t seem to recall seeing much of the kind in Europe. Nobody puts on a ball-gown every time they get out of the house, obviously, but when people do appear in public, whether for work, social occasion, or for a mundane trip to the supermarket, they tend to wear something other than pajamas or sweat-suits and at the very least have their hair combed.
Must be some new levels of the world-famous American self-confidence that now excludes any notion of self-regard.