“Taking care of your personal appearance can make you feel better about yourself, give you more confidence…a spring in your step, a readiness for anything.” Women’s magazines (yes, I am going to criticise them in general, even though it is a cheap shot), advice from advertising, marketing, that silly shallow voice in your head. If you just dress nicely and put on a bit of makeup, you’ll feel better. Hands up if you’ve heard it all before.
Well, my hand is thrust skyward like a teacher’s pet’s. And sometimes, this advice is true. Feel better, look better; look better, feel better. The bone of contention today is this: when you become a mumma, your appearance is not personal anymore. For a while, at least.
My personal appearance? I do beg your pardon, but I’m left barely a moment to myself to even visit the toilet, let alone have a shower, dress in anything resembling an ‘outfit’, or do any cosmetic-waving whatsoever. Also, these things cost money. Having given up paid work to
herd cats raise kids, I don’t have quite enough to splash around on this season’s faux-minky-doo-blinky-whatsit. I do, however, have this charming (black) long-sleeved t-shirt with snot on it, which I would be quite happy to wear over my jeans that don’t quite fit anymore, if I just give it a sponge touch-up. Go shopping? Well, thank you so very much for that sparklingly generous suggestion. Shall I go on a Saturday so that I don’t have to drag two or three reluctant maningerers with me? (Yes I did make that word up: it’s an amalgam of ‘whingers’ and ‘malingerers’, for those with an etymological bent.)
Ok. I’ll stop it. I’m just stroppy today because my snotty almost-two-year-old will not nap, and my seven-year-old is home from school early (also snotty) The five-year-old better not get snotty or I’ll have conniptions.
Sometimes, a mother’s appearance is actually ‘corporate’ as opposed to ‘personal’. Her man has loved her into a different shape. Her babies have changed her boobies, her toddlers have used her as a climbing-frame. Her older kids have run her a little bit ragged. So let her relax and dag-it-up for a season if she needs to. Soon, those charcoal bags under her eyes will be replaced with crinkles, and she’ll be sporting a charcoal handbag instead. (O, gosh, no. Not ‘sporting’. Erk.) Ok, she’ll be carrying it, with a picnic-face on. (O, no, not ‘picnic-face’. That chocolate bar add from a few years ago called the picnic bar ‘ugly’; it makes her sound ugly instead of sunny-faced happy.) Ok. She will be looking ALL NICE and with SOMETHING NEW TO WEAR. (That will have to do.)
Right, the advicey-bit is here: if your friend/self/significant other is looking shabbier than usual, remember, in interior decorating: Shabby Chic is great.
“Shabby Chic is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their age and signs of wear and tear or new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, minimalistic, and feminine feel is emphasized to differentiate it from regular vintage decor; hence the “chic” in the name.”
(Yes, I Wikied it. Four years of Uni and now most of the time I use Wikipedia and Google for research.)
Note the key-words above: age, signs of wear and tear, distressed combined with soft, minimalistic, feminine, chic. And the most important word: chosen. Yes. Chosen.
I now consider my changed-bits and tired-lines to be ‘badges of honour’, thanks to a smart suggestion from a friend a few years ago. I’d rather be chosen than selected, soft than hard, distressed than cosseted. If there is one thing I have learnt recently, it is that when things are easy, cooshy, I don’t learn very much at all.