In the summer I am way too hot and frazzled to do much with my hair. Up it goes into a lazy ponytail or sloppy bun. We don’t have central air conditioning so, I do not usually have a lovely blow-dried coif from about May to October because it just makes me too darn sweaty. And frizzy.
But on this one morning, I was wearing a lovely dress. I’d washed my long, blonde tresses and it was cool enough that I gave it a good, round-brushed, blow-out.
“Oooohhh, Mama,” she gasped. “Just yeave your hair yong. You yook just yike my Baahbee doll.”
Yes. My daughter has Barbie dolls. And she adores them. And she thinks they are all kinds of beautiful.
“Baahbee even has bwuue eyes yike you, Mama.”
It was her way of telling me she thought I looked beautiful.
And to her, I am beautiful.
She doesn’t know I am 35 pounds overweight.
She doesn’t notice the bags under my eyes. Eyes that are also starting to sag and wrinkle.
She doesn’t realize or care that my face is riddled with adult acne.
She doesn’t mind that my boobs hang down to my arm pits, or that sometimes I forget to shave.
To her, I am silky and creamy, safe and warm, soft and inviting.
To her, “beauty” is a place that is squishy but strong, fun but predictable.
We can sit here and debate about why it is “wrong” for little girls to think Barbie is pretty. We can talk about standards for “beauty” and how Barbie gives women a bad rap. I feel you. I do. If you know me at all, and if you have read any of my posts about self acceptance, you know I do not subscribe to “traditional” ideals of cosmetic loveliness, and how much I despise the diet industry and how it preys on vulnerable women.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve been compared to Barbie before, and I get a little lift from it. One time someone even told me that if I were a food, I would be a Barbie cake. Whatever that means.
Maybe that is wrong and embarrassing and bad. I don’t know. But I’m almost six feet tall, have blond hair and blue eyes, and up until the last decade was skinny with big boobs.
I also struggled with huge issues around my body image and self esteem. But that was not because of Barbie. That was some inner struggle that had way more facets than a simple doll could craft. There are, I am aware, many who would like to blame the ills of society on Barbie, but I think that oversimplifies things.
Barbie was one of my favorite toys. I spent hours dressing and primping her for fancy dinner dates or for a casual walk with her doggie. This didn’t make me a bad person, nor did it force me to believe that anyone who did not look like Barbie was not worthwhile.
But here’s the thing: I was also raised to consider the beauty of classical music, nature, and theater. I was taken to art museums and exposed to all manner of human form and figure. I plan on raising my children in the same way, and showing them that beauty comes in many more shapes and sizes than 36-24-26. Or whatever that formula is. I don’t do numbers.
We have the power to teach our daughters and sons what beauty is.
To raise them with a healthy sense of self, a strong will, and an appreciation for all the things their bodies can do.
To teach them that beauty has to do with acceptance of self and others, openness, and kindness.
So on that day, I left my hair “yong” per Emily’s wishes. I kept it down all day and flew high on the compliment my little girl had bestowed upon me.
It feels good to know my daughter thinks I’m beautiful, despite my many, many flaws inside and out.
And I bet your daughter, or son, thinks you are beautiful too.
“No mud, no lotus.” — Buddhist saying.
It’s been a busy week… In a good way.
All I’ve really got for you are these photos of some lovely lotus that grow near my home town. I took these photos last week and was eager to share them with you.
I think they speak for themselves. So, I am going to leave it at that.
Momaste. The mom in me honors themom in you. Xo
All photos property of Momasteblog.
Even at three years old, you are infatuated with movement.
You have been sitting in our laps to hear books about pigs and hedgehogs who dance, have been twirling in our hallways, and jumping with the abandon of a wild rabbit.
You have insisted on wearing tutus since you were two. You were given a pile of old, dress-up tutus and tossed them on over your dresses, leggings, and even pajamas. There have been nights when you slept in two or three tutus, layered one on top of another. The lavender one is quite tattered now, but it is your favorite still. When you wore it to the doctor’s office, she asked if it was a princess dress. But we told her, no, it’s just your “everyday” tutu.
You have been looking forward to dance class for quite a while.
So, I signed you up for an expressive movement class at a local creativity center. We are calling it ballet, but it is much less formal, of that I made sure.
You know I was a dancer. I pulled out my ballet slippers and showed them to you. Tentatively, I put them on and showed you how to do first position.
You were enchanted.
Truth be told, I was enchanted too. But I was also nervous. A sense of over-protection swept over me like the strains of Romeo and Juliet’s pas de duex.
Dance and I had a love/not-love relationship for decades before I finally hung up my leg warmers and pointe shoes, threw away the leotards who’s stink of sweat never fully seemed to get washed out, and gained some weight.
I have no recollection of my first dance class, or if it was my choice to go. I do remember the years of body shame, perfectionism, food restriction, and self loathing. I remember being measured, being told at 15 my breasts were too big to ever be a “real” dancer, and I was way too tall to ever be partnered or lifted. I remember being encouraged to do harmful things to stretch deeper, be thinner. Part of this is an inevitable path of an athlete, but for me it was totally unhealthy and perpetuated years of emotional trouble and poor health.
My wish for you is a love/love/love relationship, not just with dance, but also with your body.
If you only had any idea how beautiful the soft curve of your baby belly is over the waist band of your leotard and tutu. Your knobby knees and the rolls of oversized, pink tights around your ankles take my breath away. They are sights of innocence, of a girl child who has very little concept over how her body looks, other than that it is decked out in her ballerina-fairy-princess finest, and she are rocking the look. Big time.
We feed it lots of healthy choices, and enjoy cupcakes with pink frosting too. This is okay.
We keep it nice and clean with warm bubble baths that make you smell sweet, but sometimes we skip a couple days and your hair gets frowsy and just a bit sour smelling. This is okay too.
Your body will grow and grow. If genetics mean anything, you will likely be tall like the rest of your family. We are by no means naturally waif-like, but we will help you to learn to eat healthily and get plenty of exercise.
I will try to set a good example for you of taking care of my body, speaking respectfully about myself, and practicing moderation in diet and exercise.
I also recognize that you are not me. I will try to be mindful not to project my own insecurities and fears onto you.
What you do with your body is your choice. Always.
Right now you love dance. I’m happy you like dance, and that there is this common ground on which we can connect. It is also remarkably healing for me to watch you enjoy dancing in such innocence and freedom.
Dance is an amazing art form full of complex figures and interesting histories. I have, over the years, developed a respect for dance as I respect the beauty, mystery, and dangers of the ocean. Dance is an athletic endeavor worth pursuing.
Maybe next year you will want to do karate like your big brother, or soccer, or gymnastics. As much as we are financially and logistically able, we will try to support you in discovering all of the physical adventures you can enjoy.
I want you to feel proud of your body. I wish you would always twirl with such crazy, off-center confidence as you do right now. At age three.
You move your body, and it is pure bliss.
It may seem early for me to be worried about your self-esteem and body image at the tender age of three. But we live in this wacky society where people’s notions of beauty are skewed, and unrealistic at times, and where they seep into our own consciousness in subconscious ways.
You don’t have to look like the half-dressed lady on the tanning billboard. You don’t have to look like your pal at school with the long, long hair. You don’t have to look like mommy. You don’t have to look like Cinderella or anyone or anything other than just you.
Watching you in your first dance class, I was beside myself with joy. You went with the teacher without a second thought and you did everything asked of you with grace and enthusiasm. You got a stamp on your hand for doing a great job, and you were thrilled. I watched on the other side of a little window. I took tons of pictures and videos, ever the proud mama.
I have no recollection of my first dance class, but I will never forget yours.
People frequently ask me how I get such a glowing, radiant complexion and manage to look so fresh and young, despite my hectic-working-mom lifestyle.
Nah, I’m just kidding. No one has ever asked me that, ever, never, not once.
But I do have a little facial hack that makes me feel so dewy it seems people should be stopping me in Target to ask my beauty secrets.
As you may have realized, Momaste is not the place you want to come for straight up advice, awesome life hacks, or recipes. The reason for this dearth of sage wisdom is because I mostly suck at life, unless it involves getting comfortable while simultaneously breastfeeding and sleeping. Oooh, I should write a post about that! Because that is one thing at which I most definitely have not sucked!
But I digress. . .
Anyway, I love you guys, and want to share a sweet little thing you can do to show yourself a little kindness.
My facial is an elegantly simple treat you can give yourself whenever you feel your complexion is getting a bit sallow, like say when you have endured blizzard conditions for the past three weeks and haven’t seen any sun. True story.
The ingredients are simple, and probably stuff you have lying around right now, or can pick up on your weekly trip to Trader Joe’s. You will need:
- The juice of an organic lemon (or a regular lemon, or the squeezey stuff in the fake, plastic lemon)
- About three tablespoons of coarse, organic sugar (or, you know, regular sugar)
- A couple squirts of pure jojoba oil (a dab of melted or soft coconut oil would also be lovely, or you could use a tiny bit of olive oil, or EVOO, for those of us who think we are cool and like to use abbreviations)
1. I start by squeezing the juice of about half an organic lemon (or a few squirts of the fake, plastic lemon) into a ramekin.
2. Then add your sugar. It is best if you add the sugar right before you are ready to do the facial, otherwise it tends to melt, and the coarseness of the sugar, which gives a lovely, exfoliating scrub, loses some of its magic.
3. Add a couple squirts of the oil of your choice. I love jojoba because it has a natural ability to unclog pores, and is a wonderful makeup remover. I’ve also found through trial and error that it is an oil I can wash with on my face (yes, I did just say wash with oil, it’s a hippie thing) and I won’t break out. It is mild and light, but also very moisturizing.
4. Scrub a dub dub!
Since this sugar scrub tends to get a bit messy, I use mine in the shower. Then I can also use it on my neck and décolletage. The sugar helps scrub away dead skin cells, while the lemon treats your flesh to a burst of vibrant vitamins, lightens dark spots, and invigorates your complexion. The oil (and yes, I know jojoba is actually a wax and not technically an oil) helps to quench and moisturize, and also removes any left over makeup or grime.
Just be careful that if you do go out in the sun (fat chance in my neck of the woods right now) you wear sunscreen. Something about the vitamins in the lemon juice makes skin particularly sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays. . . oh mama, if only we had some harmful rays right now. . .
But I digress.
Let’s face it, we are all busy people, and in the course of mothering and cooking and cleaning and working and commuting, we tend to forget about taking as good care of ourselves as we do our kids, spouses, clients, etc. For me, taking five extra minutes a couple times a month to engage in this wonderful-smelling ritual makes me feel like I am really caring for the skin I’m in.
So, try it out and let me know what you think!
Unless, of course, you are allergic to any of the ingredients in this facial. In that case, for the love of goddess, please do not indulge. Melt some chocolate and stick your toes in it or something else (a pedicure I actually gave myself one time, true story).
Do you have any beauty hacks that make you feel amazing?