As a little girl I was sassy and confident. I was happy being me and didn’t have a care in the world especially how other people saw me. Then I began to grow up and it was during my teenage years in junior high that I began to let other people’s opinions start to impact me. I went through a period of one eyebrowed awkwardness and was insecure in my looks and in myself in general. I hid my insecurities fairly well, with my wit and sarcasm. But then one summer vacation, I learned how to use a tweezer and I evolved from caterpillar to butterfly and I didn’t care what anyone thought anymore. I felt confident in my own skin. I carried my head high and proud.
Then it happened again, as an adult.. babies come, you get tired, weight sneaks up on you, you focus on them more than yourself, you let yourself go. One day I just stopped caring about myself. My babies grew into little boys, who grew into teens, who now are adults and I found myself looking at someone in the mirror I no longer recognized. Like many women I am sure, the sway and swagger only showed up on “special occasions” if and when reassured a hundred times and you actually believed that you looked great and that dress does not make you look fat.
So I suffered through a period of: How do I look? Nothing fits right. I hate my hair, I wish my legs were longer and thinner. Yikes, look at my gut. I don’t want to run to the store.. what if I run into someone I know looking like this. I’m a hot mess. Oh this picture is horrible. Cut it up, throw it away. Ugh, don’t post that picture I look ugly. You can see my wrinkles, oh those bags under my eyes.. the list goes on and on.. Looking good meant “put together”, make up on, clothes effectively hiding any problem areas.
And then one day I just stopped caring about my appearance and focused on how I felt. It doesn’t matter how you look if you do not feel great. So I started to eat better and found activities that I loved to get fit. The weight came off, I began to get tone and the clothes got smaller and fit better. Better eating habits improved my complexion, the wrinkles seemed less intense, better sleeping patterns formed and with proper rest the circles got lighter. But I still was stuck in my feeling of what looking good meant and was particular in the photos I shared. And I cringed if someone shared a picture that I didn’t deem worthy. I’d be embarrassed if I run a race and the finish line photo made my look “ugly”, like that photo somehow lessened the accomplishment of the feat at hand.
Recently, very recently in fact, I completely stopped caring and changed my opinion on what “looking good” meant. It could very well have been when my grandson arrived. Because a good picture of him needs to be shared no matter how Nonna looks..
Maya Angelou says it best in Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Looking good to me still encompasses being all prettied up in a dress with my hair just right and my makeup on point, or in cute jeans and a top and awesome boots and a cowboy hat, but it also is me after a kickass workout dripping with sweat and face red and hair a mess. It is me with a bikini on with a slight belly bulge in a pony tail, it is me with a big goofy smile and crazy eyes, it is me from the back sweaty and stinky facing away from the mountain I just climbed. It is me enjoying and living life to the fullest, from any angle good or bad, it is how I feel that comes through in the picture, alive, joyful, determined, fierce and if you can’t see that in me, I no longer care. I think I look good!