A rant about fashion, self-image and turning 40

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I had an experience yesterday that made me stop and take stock of how I’m doing as a woman. Out running errands and getting some air with baby I stopped by my favourite shoe store. My primary goal was to check out the selection for mom so I could let her know if they had anything for her (probably not right now – sorry mom!). I’ve been resisting going in for months, though it’s on my regular walk route, because the shoes are so rich and beautifully edible. That’s right: I’ve been avoiding going in because I like the shoes. After all, I bought my pair of back-to-work shoes already in the fall. Basic black loafers. Who needs more than one pair? I am sensible and I save money.

Entering the store I realized that a woman I know from work was there with her family (husband and daughter – hello if you’re out there!). She was trying on shoes – gorgeous boots and shoes, ones I would LOOVE to own and wear. But: I already have lots of footwear. One whole pair of work shoes (that is, work shoes I can wear with socks). Plus winter boots!! But the selection was gorgeous, baby wanted to see the lovely red boots, and soon enough I let her hold one and tried on some myself.

My friend commented one an amazing red pair – knee high patent leather with buttons and stitch detailing – that they would look great on me and I should try them on. I said “no, I wouldn’t wear them.” “why not?” she persisted. “With leggings and a long shirt?” My reply, once out, shocked me: “I only have a few minutes in the morning anyways – I wouldn’t find the time to dress up.”

Wow. First of all: when did I become a kill-joy? Second: amazingly rudely dismissive of a friendly and encouraging suggestion. Third: why do I think I’m not worth the time and effort to dress nicely? I keep saying I want to look and feel better, yet when a suggestion is offered I shrug it off automatically.

My self-image, I realized, is at quite a low ebb. I have confidence in a fair number of areas, but fashion/appearance/presentation is decidedly not one of them. This also affects how I interact with people, apparently. I also end up feeling less worthy in some sort of broad way, thus not bringing everything I have to the table.

Looking through smudgy glasses also doesn’t help. In fact, I’d like to detail here some of the unique challenges of this stage of motherhood on my attempts to look and feel good. First, tiredness. I”m not exhausted usually, but at least a bit more tired than I’d like, and that never helps sense of well-being. Second, lack of time. Dressing well takes time. Maybe not a lot, but more than I seem to have. I really do race around the house in the morning and always leave later than planned. Adding in make-up, hair and jewelry often is more than I can do. Third: smudgy glasses. I could clean them all day, and baby will keep grabbing them. And contacts, well, I used to wear them all the time but that goes back to points 2 and 1 (when I’m tired my eyes are drier and less comfy). Fourth: personal hair styling by my baby! She twists and pulls it constantly, taking out curl and adding frizz. Fifth and finally for this particular list: all outfits are assessed in terms of ease of boob access. I need to either breastfeed or pump in any outfit I’m wearing. And then there’s bras. During mat leave I usually went without. Then I had a number of months of wearing too-big, don’t fit, not right hand-me-down bras. BLAH! All nice bras don’t seem to be accessible. So glad I finally decided to let that go and buy 3 attractive, fit well and pretty easy to access bras this week.

Having realized that all is not well in my sense of self, I’ve decided to get to work. I’m an attractive woman if I make some effort, so I am going to. That means: getting rid of lousy clothes, buying the good/right clothes (and spending money if need be!), and taking time to plan outfits so I can dress well with less effort. It also means following up on earlier plans to do a wardrobe inventory and really figure out what I wear and need.

Today saw some progress. After meeting an old friend at the mall we ended up at The Bay. I found a lovely red winter coat, a new cardigan (funky green dressyish) and a red fossil purse. YAY!! With the new winter coat I can now wear the awesome grey felt fedora-type hat husband picked up for me. I cannot believe enhancement in how I feel with these purchases – I can’t wait to get dressed! And I think I’m going to ask husband to pick up some boots I put on hold at the shoe store – winter booties in a taupey waterproof suede that are comfy and cool.

All this relates to my upcoming birthday. I’m turning 40. And while that doesn’t matter in lots of ways. I choose to turn 40 feeling confident in myself inside and out. 40 feels like a chance to be the grown-up I want to be.

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4 responses »

  1. This is a fantastic post because you are expressing the reality of life that gets smoothed over in fashion magazines. Babies need to be fed, changed, loved and that does get in the way of morning routines. Really, I have no idea how you make it to work in the morning because I was never brave enough to even try to leave the house while the kids were little. Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone and shining a little brighter through the stereoscope of new motherhood, work and turning 40.

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Elizabeth! I’m definitely still struggling to figure it out. One thing I know for myself is that baby’s needs are a priority. I guess the new thing is, I’m now at the point where my self-image also needs to be a priority. I’m curious to see what those two will look like together! I know that comfort is big for me, so fashion and style have to mean easy to wear. And I’ll never be a massive make-up person. But, I can own clothes that are comfy, easy AND attractive and cool, and I can take a bit more time to put things together. I’m excited to do that. I remember having fun with fashion when I was younger and I miss that.

  2. I remember you as always looking fashionable, with nice accessories like scarves. You do deserve to take some time to plan out nice outfits for your day. Maybe you can plan clothes for the week on a weekend day when your husband watches baby for a little while. ❤

    • Thanks Katie! I’m still definitely into scarves 🙂 – they’re so super comfy for me. I have been planning my week’s outfits on the weekend, but really rushing through it. I think I’m going to slow that down a bit so I can really get it right. Big hug to you! I was looking through photos of Metamorphous the other day and really missing that time dancing together.

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