Since being pregnant/having a baby/becoming a mom, I feel like I am gradually gaining a new perspective or maybe losing an old perspective on a life-long battle that I hope to gradually diminish before it diminishes me. I can own up to the fact that throughout my life my outward appearance has usually rested pretty high on my priority list. It's somewhat embarrassing for me to admit the level of maintenance I've brought myself to require in the past, but I feel it's a necessary step in my desire to fight the ongoing battle. I would say my ultimate downfall came at a time I now consider to be self-absorbed and unreasonably vain. A time in my life that involved a weekly visit to the cancerous abyss that is a tanning bed, succumbing to the idea of an addiction to artificial French tips, and changing my hair at least once a month, which has undoubtedly resulted in life-long chemical dependence (hair color chemicals that is).
While pregnant I had every intention of practicing healthy eating habits and exercising regularly. I quickly realized that I was seriously unable to maintain my self-control and did not feel I fit the mold of a “cute” pregnant woman. Throughout my 9 month journey my focus became a lot less myself and a lot more my future baby. I wasn't as concerned about the clothes I was wearing, my hair, or even my make-up. What a beautiful thing we mothers do by sacrificing a lot of our potential “personal grooming” time and efforts to care for our children. I recently observed one of my close friends who is 5 months pregnant, and although her appearance and shape had noticeably started to change, she looked so beautiful to me, because she looked like a mother.
Becoming a mom helped me tap further into my personal worth and also made me reflect a great deal on my priorities.
Do I like getting dressed up? Yes.
Do I enjoy following fashion and hair trends? Definitely.
Do I take pride in my appearance? Yes.
I don’t have to feel guilty about answering "yes" to the previous questions. What’s important is that I’ve made real strides against my own personal battle of appearance by deciding what’s really important and what’s really not. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:
- Having pale skin is not a crime and is less expensive, less artificial, and better for my overall health than other alternatives.
- Freckles are my heritage and they mean a lot to me. I no longer consider them to be skin imperfections or a pigmentation problem.
- Makeup is for enhancing natural beauty. Eye liner addiction is no longer necessary.
- Once in a while your skin needs a break from all that "stuff" and it can actually feel quite liberating to go out in public al naturale. After all- that's how my Heavenly Father made me.
- High heels are a dangerous combination when carrying a car-seat and a diaper bag.
- My husband doesn't care if I didn't have a chance to "get ready" some days, and oddly tends to find me more attractive in sweats with no make-up than when I'm all dolled up.
- Ponytails can be sexy.
- Reading a book to my son is much better time spent than 10 more minutes on my hair or make-up.
Who you are and how you carry yourself is a higher level of determining beauty. (Have you ever noticed how getting to know someone better can make them more or less physically attractive?)
I know women who are always put together from head to toe with the perfect accessories down to the purse and matching eye shadow. I also know women who don't care much about their appearance and may be considered "under kept". When I think about the women I really respect and admire- I don't think it has anything to do with either scenario. They are the women in my life who are good mothers, good friends, hard workers, and those who give of themselves to make the world a better place. It's the women who are humble, yet have a subtle confidence about who they are and who they want to become. I believe we all have our own insecurities, but wouldn't we all be a little less insecure if we came to face the notion that we are all insecure? (I know it's a bit redundant, but it had to be said.)
I can face it. We're all going to age, which means our physical appearances are going to sag, wrinkle, and hang. All efforts to beautify our appearance will be vanished and unnoticeable, and all efforts to beautify our soul will be left to shine through. I think treating yourself and appreciating yourself is important- all in moderation I tell myself. When I approach the end of my life, I want to look a little less like Joan Rivers and a little more like Mother Theresa.
Now days I find myself with all sorts of new fashion accessories. Mommy make-up (baby food on the face), Mama bling (binky around my finger), and oh so lovely spit-up on my blouse. I wear my badge of motherhood proudly, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Sarah Jane is a cosmetologist turned mom who is a lover of too many things, including: crafting, frugal fashion, and decor. You can catch up with all things she loves on her blog "For the Love",(link http://www.sarandtrav.blogspot.com/) or email her about what you love at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Wili Hybrid