Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bringing Sexy Back

I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror at Walmart last week. I had on baggy sweatpants, a hooded sweatshirt, no makeup and a baseball hat covering my unwashed hair. I quickly turned away, and continued down the aisle. As I grabbed the rest of my groceries and headed home, I wondered what happened to the confident woman I used to see in the mirror. Something changed after I became a mom and as much as I try to rethink my attitude toward outward beauty, the physical aftermath of pregnancy still haunts me. When I mention my insecurities to Matt, he always tells me I’m crazy, and his actions and affection toward give me no reason to doubt his sincerity. So if he doesn’t see a difference, why do I?

I started wondering if maybe the problem isn’t pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or motherhood. Aside from the fact that my bra got downgraded an entire cup size and I’ll probably never have a flat stomach again, all of my issues are much more related to my lifestyle than anything else. Now that I am busy being a mom, I don’t exercise as much or take time to do my nails. Now that I have nowhere important to go, I often skip the makeup and resort to sweatpants, t-shirts, and messy ponytails. Now that I don’t see anyone besides Reese and Matt on most days, it somehow got easier to skip a shower or go (I won’t even say how long) without shaving my legs. Then when I get a glance at myself in the mirror, I get upset and blame it all on motherhood as if I have no choice but to accept the disheveled new me.

Well, my Walmart pajama party was the last straw, and I decided to make some very simple changes. I started by rearranging my clothes. I moved all of the sweatpants, t-shirts, and anything equally unflattering to the back of my closet. I threw out any underwear with stretched elastic or frayed edges. My makeup and nail polish are now easily accessible and my hair ties and sports bras are not. Then, I started getting up extra early to exercise, shower, and get ready for the day just as I did when I worked full-time. No, I didn’t wear pantyhose or business suits, but I did put on a nice outfit and some makeup (even if my biggest outing that day would be a trip to the mailbox).

I was surprised at how quickly I started to feel beautiful again. When I first started staying home (after the newborn stage ended, of course) I got dressed almost every day. Then it was every other day; then just when I had the extra time; then just when I was going somewhere. And although I never got to a full-fledged pajamas-all-day-every-day stage, I’d say it was easily 50/50… ok, maybe even 60/40 with sweatpants in the lead. Before I knew it, I was wandering around Walmart in my pajamas and a baseball hat wondering how this happened.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that I didn’t need to look good anymore because it didn’t matter anyway. It does matter, though. Taking a little time for me every day makes a day at home just that much more productive and enjoyable. It helps my confidence, boosts my energy, and reminds me that my work is important. And the compliments from my husband have been pretty great too, which give me even more motivation to do it all over again the next day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The comfy clothes aren’t gone for good, and I have nothing against wearing sweatpants to Walmart. I know I’ll still skip a shower here and there and I may not always keep up with shaving my legs as often as I’d like (sorry, honey). The difference is that now I can appreciate my lounging around days as an awesome perk of staying home rather than believing that’s all I’m worth now just because I don't have anywhere else to be.

If you’re proud of your role at home, and if you’re proud of yourself for making the sacrifice and the commitment to do it, then you deserve to be equally proud of the way you look while doing the job you love. So grab your yoga mats, nail polish, and makeup. Le'ts bring sexy back. 

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