It's always been important to me to be thought of as pretty and polished and nice to look at. Sounds vain, but as a woman, perhaps you can relate. I talked about the roots of this a bit here.
With that said, I work diligently to position myself as a champion for shameless self-possession. I celebrate all the many layers. And some of those layers ain't pretty. Feeling pretty is like happiness. It's a choice and a feeling that comes and goes depending on what's going on.
Embracing the unpretty is part of my brand. I think about it every time I sit down to write, and when I share bits and pieces of inspiration on social media. What am I struggling with? What are my friends struggling with? How can I help people cope? What would boost me or comfort me right now?
Often I find that what comforts me is remembering that everything is not picture perfect and pretty all the time -- for anyone. But awhile back I realized there was a disconnect in what I practiced and what I preached. As much as I talked about imperfections and how beautiful we are because of them, personally I was still very attached to the need to appear flawless.
Not emotionally flawless, but physically flawless. Because when I didn't feel pretty and polished on the outside, I felt like I didn't have my life together.
My truth is that I want to look like a hot mom -- no, a hot woman who happens to have kids -- all the time. But my reality is that well, yeah I just don't. When running here and there with the kids, I often skip doing my hair and throw on a hat over tangled, matted tresses. I may or may not put makeup on and I may or may not have time to fix it during the day when my face gets all oily looking. I always seem to have more dirty clothes than clean clothes and my nails are never done. I feel disheveled often and I probably say self-deprecating things to myself in my mind because I want to look better.
To add to that, I leverage social media quite a bit to promote my blog and when I'm perusing my timeline, everyone looks picture perfect. This used to really bother me sometimes and on vulnerable days, it still does. You too? Trust me, I understand.
When we're not careful about how we perceive social media, we create stories in our minds around circumstantial things and make sweeping generalizations about our lives and the lives of people around us. How does she manage to look so perfect while at the amusement park with her 7 kids under the age of 7? I would be so sweaty and gross. I bet she never sweats. That couple looks so happy -- they must never fight. She posts beautiful family meals every. single. day. My kids had chicken nuggets for two nights in a row. I'm a terrible mother. A messy, terrible mother.
You see how we do this to ourselves? When I originally wrote this post two years ago, I was in the midst of an a-ha moment. It was starting to make sense why I'd put so much emphasis on looking good. Aside from being a girly girl and loving pretty things, I connect how I look with how I live my life. I see it as a message to the world. So if I look a hot mess, then I feel like I'm telling the world that I am a hot mess and that's not really the message I want to convey.
But if I'm being honest, then I have to tell you that yeah, sometimes I am a hot mess. Owning that fact makes me feel free and fortunately, feeling free is more important to me than feeling pretty and perfect and... not sweaty.
So when I start to think mean thoughts to myself about my appearance, I remember this: "A beautiful thing is never perfect."