Friday, August 08, 2014

Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep

My new haircut
I got a haircut, today.  I know what you're thinking, "My gosh, Anne!  Your life is just non-stop excitement!" and you'd be right, of course. My life is an endless supply of thrills!  And thank you for noticing.

Okay, it's possible that I might be exaggerating. Although, I don't think anyone spilled cereal on the floor today, and that's kind of exciting!

Since I started dying my hair red, I've been needing to take more of the old dyed brown stuff off of the ends, and I was really ready for something more fun.  I was going for a Sandra Bullock long bob type thing (which was apparently THE thing last fall, but I'm slow and old, so I'm behind)  but ended up with a style that can only be called, mine.  My hair never does what I think it will, but it somehow ends up working out just fine anyway.  Well, most of the time.

And I'm pleased to see that in the sunlight, it's a nice shade of red.  Under the lights in my bathroom, it's almost a little Ronald McDonaldy orange at the roots.  Sometimes it amazes me the things that make me happy.  Like, "Hey, Liam didn't pee on the floor today!" or "Check me out! I don't look like a freaky clown mom!"

But here's the serious:

I have mixed feelings about beauty.  I'm from Southern California, and grew up in a local culture that was practically obsessed with personal beauty.  I bring those standards to every photo I see of myself, as well as every glance in a mirror, and always feel that I'm lacking.  I hate that.  But I love playing with make-up and hair.  I find it fun, even if I'm not that good at it, really.

But, I'm a big believer in that beauty can't be judged on what you see in the mirror.

The people I know who are the most beautiful, are kind and generous.  Their heart, their core, their inmost being, shines through on their faces and informs my perception.  Equally, the most unattractive people I know do not have characters that I find attractive. I'm not repelled by their exterior, but by who they are inside. How I judge beauty in the people I know, is heavily influenced by who I know them to be.  But I don't do that for myself. For me, it is only the most shallow standards.

I want to communicate healthy standards of beauty to my kids, especially my daughters, who I think are hit with very unhealthy messages in a way that boys aren't.  I want them to eat good foods, I want them to move their bodies and be strong, but I don't want them spending their whole lives judging themselves by a number on a scale, or a model on a magazine page.

What trips me up in this whole jumble of what beauty is, is why don't I don't look at myself the same way I look at others? I judge myself by a completely unattainable standard.  Because of this, even at the time of my life when I was the closest I was ever going to be to my own personal perfect, I didn't appreciate it, and didn't see it.  That's sad, I think.

Tori Amos sings a song called Winter, and one of the lyrics is "When you gonna make up your mind?  When you gonna love you as much as I do?" and I think I'm there.  I'm 37 years old.  I'm fit, I'm healthy and I'm done picking myself apart.  I'm not perfect.  I'm a work in progress.  But I'm a good person who loves people.  It's time to give myself some of the same consideration I would give anyone else.

Because I can't possibly truly teach my daughters what I want them to know about real beauty, if I can't model those healthy ideas.  Right?

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  1. The red looks fabulous on you! I would have guessed it's your natural color.

    I'm going for functional over beautiful, these days, which means I end up focusing on adequate sleep, a good diet, plenty of activity and staying hydrated... oh, and after having skin cancer removed twice, I bathe in sunscreen. For me, it's no longer about beauty, it's about longevity.

    When I left beauty behind as a priority, suddenly I feel like I look better than ever - although nobody's knocking on my door with a contract from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

    I wish I could go back and tell 16 year-old me this would happen, or at least tell her to wear a hat with a visor. I hope your kids listen to you.

    1. Thanks! I really love being a redhead.

      There is a lot to be said for functional, especially when you're running around and busy. And that's a good reminder about the sunscreen. I'm very fair and can't stand to be burned. So, I pretty much bathe in it, too. I sometimes forget that there are very good reasons beyond the immediate burn, to wear it.

      You're beautiful, and I often have the same thoughts about 16 year old me. Someone once asked me what 16 year old me would say to grown-up me. I answered that she wouldn't have much opportunity to speak, what with my beating her senseless for all the dumb things she did.

      I hope all of our kids listen to us. We're very smart.


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