Saturday, January 26, 2013

Out of retirement

...and back to the blog.  At least for today.  It's been a while but I've been thinking a lot lately about this kind of thing here... & the message I am sending my kids as a recovering beauty queen.  I still care about my appearance--maybe more than I should.  It took me years to "get over" not being __ enough (insert "thin," "smart," "beautiful") after being exposed to media, the South in general (yes, people, I've lived in enough places to say that our hair is bigger, our make.up more flawless than in other parts of the nation), & parades of girls being selected as more __ than I. 
Joni, Lindsay & me (red hair, braces & all)

at our spot in the hall #teenagersbeingcool
I appreciate every phase of my life because each one has taught compassion, understanding, and sometimes an unfortunate lesson in the general shallowness of people.  Take my "grunge" phase for example.  For a few years I dressed in my dad's old jeans, my grandma's shirts and some awesome black cons.  I parted my hair down the middle, wore very little make.up and hung out at Pegasus Records listening to greasy and wonderful boys and girls strum guitars and smoke. 
While my little social circle mourned the loss of Kurt Cobain and tried to navigate all the regular awkward social teen moments, we also had a difficult time with "authority figures."  Not all of them, of course.  There were the few wonderful ones who took the time with those bright kids who dressed a little differently, but not a lot. 
blurry, but there we are:  Me with my Lori
I continued to blossom and attempt to be true  My interests lead to me social extra-curricular activities.  I became a cheerleader and began to notice that when I was in uniform with my ponytail, I got a different response from folks as opposed to when I was kickin' it in my papa's rolled up, baggy jeans.  Age 14.  My concept of social awareness and being "dressed right" began.

By my early twenties my goal was to look like most every other girl who was in her twenties--at least the blonde, thin, popular ones.  I ate very little and exercised a lot.  I did loose weight, but I also lost my period for a few years and myself for while. 
I was processing and pushing through so much at that time.  Controlling my size seemed to be one of the only things I was fully capable of controlling.  It very nearly tipped my brain over the edge and I, to this day, do not know what or Whom to contribute my sanity to (as I Believer, I am thankful).  I do know that I lost a few girlfriends to the demon that is Disordered Eating.  I know a few others who are still in the midst of the battle.  Thankfully, wonderfully, I know a few who, like me, see the other side of that evil. 
Robin was a good friend while I was a little crazy. 

two of the most amazing people I Z & my L
Fast forward nine years, two children and a lifetime of decisions that make me realize life is so much bigger than my never-recovered-from-childbearing-waistline. I am reading articles and pondering how to instill in both my children (my type A, perfectionist boy and my chill, but sensitive baby girl) a guiding light, an empowered confidence, a strong sense of self that no magazine, actor, person they are attracted to or competing against can shake. 
We talk about where "beauty" comes from (inside), what we think is beautiful (they both love babies), and how we eat well and exercise to feel good and keep our bodies healthy.  We certainly try to live as positive examples, but sometimes I find myself fussing with my hair, or worrying about a blemish in front of them and I wonder what message that is sending. 
coolness embodied
How important is all that verses spending time with them?  Where is my energy going at that moment?  What is the frown on my face as I look at my shapeless, growing out hair telling my daughter (or son)?  Why am I so worried about a blemish?  Am I telling her (or him!) that it isn't okay to have imperfections?  
cooking with sweet Z
I've challenged myself a little before by "giving up" make.up for Lent one year.  I'll confess that it was the most difficult thing I've ever done for Lent (which I am mortified to admit).  I also haven't done it in six years.  I think I've been afraid to do it because I can still remember how un-pretty I felt on so many occasions.  I'm not talking about running to the grocery or gym with no mascara, I'm talking about nothing--nada--to work, church, hang out with friends, for pictures, everything.  Barclay said he "loved" it.  I still don't know if I believe that, but he does love a challenge.  So today, as I was soaking my flu infected self in the tub for an hour I thought about all the recent articles I've noticed about people giving up mirrors and I thought, "I don't know if I could do that."  So, I'm going to challenge myself again. 
The most recent pic of me:  being silly with my amazing, Leslie
 No make.up or mirrors (except when flossing--can't give that up!) for a week.  I'll see where to go after that.  I told Barclay in front of Zora, but I think I'll talk to both the kids about it later.  I'm sure they'll think it's funny now, but hopefully they'll remember it later--unless I do something even more strange. Who knows?  Sometimes I feel empowered like that. 

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