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Beauty Lessons… Not Just for the Kids


Although I now have teenagers, I still feel as if I am getting at least three people dressed every time we walk out the door to an event. When my children were little, this made sense. I had to physically help my children get dressed. With two teenagers, my role is different. It’s policing and being the family barometer of “appropriateness,” as in, “No, I don’t think that those Yoga leggings are appropriate for Sunday dinner with your grandparents,” and then defending my position. I signed on for this job of being a mother and I would not trade it for the world, but lately I have been feeling like it would be nice to have to be responsible for only one person’s attire, at least some of the time. I used to put more care and thought into my own appearance.

I find myself thinking about fashion king Karl Lagerfeld’s words, “Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give….” I am proud of the fact that what used to take me half an hour now takes me five minutes. I like the efficiency and lack of vanity in a streamlined beauty routine, but I sometimes wonder if I have “sacrificed too much” and could be doing more on the beauty front and if I would be sending my daughters a different message by doing so. I do not want to have vain, beauty-obsessed daughters. I think my own mother was right when she explained that beauty is fleeting and not to put too much stock in it. Like my mother, I want to be sure my daughters are thinking about a lot more than what they are going to wear, what eye shadow best enhances their eye color, or how they are going to style their hair. At the same time, I want to raise daughters who know how to take care of and present themselves. I hope that each of them will be well groomed, know how to dress appropriately for different occasions, develop a sense of personal style, and be poised and confident in the way they carry themselves. These things are deeper than fashion or physical beauty. They take practice and guidance and, yes, some nagging and policing from Mom.

There are conflicting messages when it comes to how we mother our daughters in regards to beauty, fashion and appearances. How do I simultaneously teach my daughters that what they wear conveys their attitude and gives everyone they meet an impression of who they are, while also teaching them that clothes are not that important?! The answer, I think, is that we just do. We teach, explain and live the dichotomy. Like everything else in mothering, we teach by example and the important thing is the deeper message, the message of respecting oneself and others enough to make an effort and put some thought (and time!) into how one presents oneself. Sounds like I better plan on a bit more time to get out the door…

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

August 10, 2015

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