I sit down with my cup of coffee and google “effectiveness of Cool Sculpting” while simultaneously writing a post on how to encourage my daughter to love her body just the way it is.
Sadly, the irony of this escapes me for the better part of a week.
Then my mind shifts to my mother, who has recently decided to embrace her natural hair color, which by the way is truly a gorgeous blend of silvery gray. She was initially apprehensive about this big change, but to me she looks more beautiful than ever before, and I think she is growing to love her new look.
I, on the other hand, just started coloring my grays. And I have to say, it feels a little like cheating. And it’s a slippery slope. Once your hair starts looking younger, then you really notice the lines on your face, the skin spots, the muffin tops.
It’s really hard in our current culture to accept ourselves the way we are. There’s this silent pressure to look effortlessly beautiful, young and thin despite your age or crazy life agenda. I don’t talk about cosmetic procedures with others, but based on the advertising that bombards my Facebook feed, I’m assuming it’s a booming business.
I feel very conflicted about this. On the one hand, I enjoy looking for ways to improve upon myself. I work out daily as much for my mental health as for fitness, I try to eat healthy, and I take care of my skin. And sometimes I worry, if everyone else is having procedures done to look younger, tighter, and brighter, am I falling behind? Should I feel badly about myself because of the way I look naturally?
I remember 6 months ago when I first sat down in the stylist’s chair, nervously awaiting my first hair color consultation, the stylist could not believe that I’d never dyed my hair before. Then when he started touching it, he was shocked at how soft my hair felt. He noted, “you can tell you’ve taken very good care of your hair because it’s so healthy and natural-looking.”
Which immediately freaked me out. If my hair looks so healthy and natural (which is because, btw, it iscompletely natural), why am I paying him lots of money to change that? I went ahead with the coloring, but the sentiment stuck with me.
I’ve thought lots of times about getting Botox to fight my wrinkles (apparently you’re supposed to start before you even get wrinkles so I’m already behind the ball on that one), fat cooling procedures to make me look thinner, or permanent eye makeup to make me look effortlessly perkier.
But you know who’s right there next to me? My young daughter, watching my every move. Noting how I frown at the mirror, sigh at the tightness of my pants, or complain to my husband that I look and feel old.
And for better or worse, she is learning how to view herself. From me. From the way I treat my body, the way I talk to myself, and the way I look at myself in the mirror.
So then, it’s up to me to decide what I want to teach her.
I want her to know that I have wrinkles on my forehead from laughing at her silly jokes, her father’s humor, and her brother’s goofball ways. I have lines on my face from crying when I’m sad, worrying about my loved ones, and feeling ecstatic joy on days like her birth, where I processed every emotion in my bandwidth.
I want her to know sometimes my pants are tight because I love food and how it brings our family together. We enjoy bonding in the kitchen and around the dining table, cooking and baking, creating traditions and memorable conversations.
Also my body isn’t perfect because I carried two beautiful, healthy, large babies to term. I want to teach her, My body did that! Isn’t that amazing? So yes, I am a little saggy here and there, and I will probably never fit into my favorite skinny jeans again. But I have you, and your brother, and there’s no sacrifice that isn’t worth that to me.
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(This post originally appeared on Mid-Peninsula Mom’s Blog on November 27th 2017)