Oh, the number of times I’ve heard that you should take a little pride in your appearance, if only to at least make you feel a little bit better about yourself and your day.
I heard it over and over when I first started working from home (read: no enforced dress code) and endlessly on repeat once I became a mom. (What is it that makes people assume moms are frumpy and unkempt, especially with newborns? Oh, wait …)
I’ll admit, there are times when getting dressed and put together really do make me feel better about myself. It’s nice to put on “real” clothes, brush some makeup across my face, and do something more with my hair than pile it on top of my head in a mess of a ponytail. It can make me feel like I have a purpose, like I have meaning, and at its simplest, like I’m pretty. I’m sure my husband appreciates the change of scenery when he sees me in something besides yoga pants and flip-flops.
But here’s the thing: I also feel pretty darn good in my workout clothes without makeup.
They’re comfortable, and when I’m comfortable, I’m more “me.” More often than not, being “put together” makes me not as willing to get down on the floor and really play with my 3-year-old son. I feel held back by my outfit, whether because it’s constricting or because I worry about messing something nice up. I get upset when he squishes my face and rubs my makeup off or messes up my hair. When there’s no makeup to worry about, no perfectly coifed hair to mess up, no pretty clothes to ruin, I can interact with my son wholeheartedly and be truly me.
Now there’s a difference between being a total train wreck of a disaster and not being completely put together, and yes, sometimes there’s a fine line between the two. But I’ll take comfort and functionality (without being a slob) over looking “pretty” any day. (Plus, the added bonus is that when I do take the time to put in a little extra effort, the results go a lot further.) The key is not taking the “relaxed, comfortable” approach too far.
Surely there are days when I could have used a little more self-help in the appearance department, namely when my son was a colicky newborn. In those days, nice clothes and a put-together face or outfit were the last things on my priority list. But even when I’m not in a place of such despair and in need of eight extra hands, I still choose yoga pants or running shorts over jeans or skirts, casual tanks over dressy tops, and a ponytail over luxurious beach waves.
It has nothing to do with time, priorities, ability, or need — it has to do with being the best mom and wife and person that I can be, and that’s me, unedited.
Wearing full makeup and being perfectly accessorized to spend the day behind my computer or playing with my son doesn’t feel true or authentic. There are plenty of moms and women who this works perfectly for. Who I wouldn’t blink twice at if they showed up to a kid’s birthday party in curls and pearls.
But anyone would know I was playing a role if I did that. Trying to be someone I’m not.
What I am is comfortable in my own skin, proud of being an active and involved mom, and perfectly happy to not be the best-dressed girl on the block. Plus, I put time into taking care of myself physically; I work out and I eat well, and I’m comfortable rocking a pair of stretchy yoga pants or a sports bra out of the house.
If I do choose to get dressed up and go out for an adult night on the town, then so be it — it’s the perfect time and place for me to feel comfortable on the other end of the spectrum.
So often we feel the pressure to show other people that we can do everything and have all things under control all of the time. For some people, this includes being put together in a traditional outward sense. If that makes you feel better, then that’s great. Go for it!
But if you’re like me, it’s just added pressure that we don’t need and that doesn’t matter in the long run. I’d rather show I have things under control in other ways, or admit it openly when I don’t.
I like being able to show my son that it’s fine (and fun) to get messy, be active, and not worry about messing up your clothes or your hair or getting a little dirty. If I’d put the time and effort into “putting myself together” as so many people love to tell moms to do, I wouldn’t feel as inclined to be leading by example. As I write this, my son and I have matching holes in our pants from kneeling on the pavement looking at bugs, and I wouldn’t trade those for the nicest dress in the world.More On