It might have been the 6 episodes of “What Not to Wear” that I watched the weekend before last. Or it might be the weather that is trying to warm up (we get glimpses of spring weather here and there, although it’s past the middle of April and it’s still cold enough that I make the kids wear long pants every day to school!). Maybe it’s just being exasperated with everything that’s going on and how I don’t seem to be moving forward at all – in fact, I don’t even seem to be treading water – more and more symptoms as time goes by.
Whatever the reason, I decided to step up my personal appearance effort lately. I mostly work from home, which meant a lot of time in comfy clothes (pajama pants and an old, shapeless, maybe even paint-stained t-shirt), hair going straight from the shower to pulled back in a ponytail every single day. Clothes were clean, I was clean. I just looked like I felt – tired, worn-out and like just getting through the day was completely wiping me out and I had zero left to attempt to be cute.
The first day of this effort, when I picked the kids up from school my son saw my flat-ironed hair instead of the ever-present ponytail and asked if I’d gotten my hair cut that day. The reason he asked is because that has, with very few exceptions, been the only reason my hair hasn’t been in a ponytail everyday for the last couple of years – because my stylist did it for me.
Then, on day 3, my daughter asked why I was “dressing up all the time.” Let me make this clear – I’m definitely not dressing up. I’m wearing a “cute top” and jeans instead a shapeless t-shirt with the logo from the elementary school on it. A cream lacy tank-top underneath a pink crop cardigan with jeans and a pair of flats is hardly considered “dressing up” in most people’s minds…but, yep, it was enough for my daughter to notice it.
I’m on day 10 now. I’ve had “intentional” hair each day – meaning I did it with purpose. One day flat ironed, one day naturally curly scrunched, a couple of days with waves from the curling wand. None of it took more than 15 minutes, but it was 14.5 minutes more than I’d been spending on it before. I did wear it pulled back one day, but it was a cute do and not a pull it straight back after stepping out of the shower.
About half of the days I’ve worn make-up. Not a lot. I’ve never been someone that wore a lot. A little eye shadow, liner and mascara and a light foundation all over. Minimal. 3 minutes. But effort none the less.
And I’ve done this all each day for 10 days now. Even when I’m working from home all day and no one sees me. Even if I’m just running my kids around to dance practice or baseball games.
So why this effort? Well, for one, obviously it was needed. If my children are that quick to point out that even a minimum of effort was strange enough of an occurrence for them to comment on, then clearly I needed to pay a little bit more attention.
And, two (and this is where the mini-marathon of “What Not to Wear” the other weekend comes into play)…I figured that maybe if I look better than I’ll feel a little bit better. It’s one of those “fake it until you make it” things. I clearly wasn’t feeling good looking like crap, and every time I looked at myself in the mirror it made me feel worse. So it couldn’t hurt to try.
So how’s it working? It takes about 25 minutes to complete this improved look. Not that long in the grand scheme of things. Is it worth it?
I do feel better about how I look. It does give me a little extra happiness and confidence in my day. It has improved my mood, self-esteem and outlook on the day.
But it’s not as easy as it probably sounds. That 20 minutes that it takes to do my hair – it hurts. Literally hurts. I feel like I’ve just completed a strenuous arm workout when I’m done. Bicep weakness has made any task where I have to lift my arms, even a little, difficult. Washing my hair, straightening or curling it, even just pulling it back into an “intentional” pulled-back style makes my arms feel like they’re a hundred pounds each, being weighed down. And I also have to be able to brush my teeth, reach up into cabinets to get dishes and ingredients, type on a keyboard, carry things up and down the stairs, and all the other little daily tasks throughout the day that require even a minimum of lifting of the hands or arms.
If I feel tired and worn out before I even get out of my room in the morning, what does that mean for the rest of the day? If it causes me to not be able to do something else because my arms are feeling tired or my legs are tired from standing up while getting ready then is it worth it? I already have so much guilt about what I’m not doing (household chores, taking care of things I used to take care of, etc.) because of my fatigue and muscle weakness. How can I, in good conscious, say that I’m too tired/fatigued/sore to cook dinner but yet I took 20 minutes to do my hair that day? If I had skipped that personal task, would I have been able to do the other household task instead?
And I’m sure it sounds far-fetched to many that this 25 minutes of personal care could possibly be that big of a energy-suck on me that I would even be writing about it. I’m sure it would have sounded ridiculous to me a few years ago – but it’s true. Imagine how tired your arms feel after bench-pressing a bunch of reps of significant weight. That’s how 20 min of personal care makes me feel.
Is it worth it? Not sure yet. I’m still trying to figure it out.