There is the common conception that becoming a mother is an automatic ticket to never looking fashionable again. Since having the wonderful title of parenthood bestowed upon me in August 2006, I have fought valiantly against this stereotype. As the years meander on, however, I find myself becoming lackadaisical in the attention paid toward my appearance. I cut corners whenever possible and most certainly cut updating my own closet out of my budget most of the time (one of my hobbies includes repeatedly filling online shopping carts with various items for myself and then never buying them).
I actually have a wonderfully extensive wardrobe, in spite of that. Being a “teacher who is a singer who goes to the beach a lot and also works out” means that I have a large selection of both standard and unique items with which to play around. So, the diversity (or complexity) of my clothing is not what has been the issue lately. What I’ve found is that I’ve stopped taking the time to really put myself together. I’ve become lazy about fixing my hair or completely skipped the primping routine altogether. I’m not talking about on purpose in an Alicia Keys-inspired journey of feminine empowerment, but in a way that is much the opposite. I wouldn’t mind if I had made a conscious decision to turn against mainstream treatment of women’s beauty. But I hadn’t. I had actually allowed the stress of motherhood and work to compel me to put my appearance last on the list of daily priorities.
Wearing make up is something that makes me feel put together. By having it forcibly removed from my routine, I had basically told myself that me feeling good about how I look doesn’t matter. Do I feel ugly without makeup? No. I just feel more complete with it on.
This post is not about sociatal conventions and expectations for women, but rather how we as women have a nasty habit of late-listing our own needs. I feel it necessary to disclose this so that we don’t run another tangent and fall into the rabbit hole of beauty standards.
Now, my makeup routine is what would be classified as “minimal” by YouTube guru standards. I am nowhere near adept in contouring or brow arch management. I am more of the BB cream, light concealer, pressed powder type. If I’m feeling particularly inclined, I will swipe blush haphazardly across my cheek ridge. I usually garnish my lashes with a few sweeps of mascara, throw on some lipgloss and I’m done. From the time I pick up the first brush to when I put the tube of lip stuff down, probably less than 10 minutes has elapsed.
I had forfeited a simple 10 minute make up routine in favour of familial obligations and workload.
One Monday, while getting ready for work, I decided to wear red lipstick. I had gotten up earlier on purpose so that I could add my limited time for self prep back into my routine. Instead of my standard nude gloss, I picked up a tube of red matte lipstick I’d purchased at
a random cosmetic store sometime in mid-2016. I popped it on instead of a nude gloss and lo the compliments came forth.
“You look nice,” said my husband as I left for the day.
“Lookin’ good, Mrs. T,” said many of my students.
“Is it your birthday? You look really nice,” said some others.
I liked it. The compliments, the looking nice stuff…so I decided that I would put the lipstick on again the next day. The same phenomenon occurred. Everyone thought I looked special, great even. Could ten minutes and red lipstick have changed my appearance that much?
For the week of January 8th to 14th I wore red lipstick to work every day. Each day almost everyone I encountered complimented me on my appearance. It made me feel nice, which led to a more positive outlook on my daily tasks.
Multiple arguments have been made of late that we place too much onus on how we look. However, it is impossible to think that this will change overnight. Ever gone out without primping and had people tell you that you look “sick” or “tired” (or maybe “sick and tired”…)? By no means am I saying that women need to wear makeup in order to look decent, but I do think that we as women need to do whatever it is that makes us feel we look decent. I think that the paradigm leap from appearance-centered creatures to carefree careless is something which will take not only a massive collective change, but also a sort of shedding of our own cultural makeup (no pun intended). It’s difficult to prioritize ourselves– as mothers, wives, teachers, whatever– but it is important to take that extra time (make that extra time) to do whatever it is that makes you feel like you are entering the world prepared and armed with the best version of yourself. Feeling like you are complete and put together translates to confidence and confidence translates to looking beautiful.