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March 24, 2011

Dressing the Part

As a parent, I knew there were all sorts of things I would be responsible for teaching my children…their ABC’s, their numbers, their colors, how to spell their names, and the battle cry for our favorite sports team (can I get a “Roll Tide!!!”???).

Of course I knew I would be teaching them more ambiguous concepts, too…like respect, and obedience; that I would try to set a good example in standing up straight, and eating well, and exercising, and reading.

I hadn’t given a lot of thought to instilling a positive body image, though, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

I should interject that I don’t consider myself a “hair and makeup” girl. I have never owned a set of hot rollers…wouldn’t know how to use them if I tried. Before the girls were born, I wore makeup every day, but only the basics...I favor basic lip balm (or gloss, if I wanna get a little crazy) to lipstick any day.

When I was pregnant, I heard plenty of horror stories of new moms not finding the time to shower for days on end. I vowed that would not be me. And with very few exceptions, I’ve upheld that promise to myself.

So WOO HOO…I can check “basic hygiene” off my list. But it dawned on me not long ago that that is no indication of me being well put-together.

Just because I’m clean doesn’t mean I’m presentable. Think mismatched pajama bottoms and a random tshirt, sometimes paired with a hoodie. No wonder the delivery guy diverts his eyes and makes a hasty exit off the porch!

Of course I would never go out like that (making a run through the Starbucks drive-thru doesn’t count…).

But if I’m embarrassed to walk down the drive to the mailbox some days, what kind of example am I setting for my girls to take pride in their appearance?

And sadly, I realized I dress the girls almost as shabbily. They have plenty of adorable outfits they wear when we go somewhere, but at home they wear onesies and pants.

There’s nothing wrong with onesies and pants, of course, but in most cases I’m talking about last year’s onesies and whatever random pants are atop the bin in the closet. (Size 9m onesies still fit in the stride, but are short in the sleeves…that actually works perfectly as I don’t have to roll their sleeves up at the table, and if they do get a stain, it’s no big deal!).

As I step back, I’m afraid we look like hobosclean hobos…but hobos nonetheless.

What kind of message am I sending to the girls?

That we “dress up” when someone is going to see us, but we don’t owe it to ourselves to look presentable on a day-to-day basis?

I’ve made another vow to change things up this spring.

When we do our spring shopping for the girls, I’ll still buy their cute outfits, but I’m also investing in a variety of knit tops and shorts, “outfits” to wear at home. I’ll commit to the tedium of rolling up their sleeves, when necessary, and I’m just going to deal with stains as they inevitably occur.

And for myself? I am going to commit to doing some shopping for me…to finding something that’s easy and comfortable for chasing the girls and dancing the Can-Can…but that allows me to hold my own in conversation with the delivery guy…one that sets a better example for the girlies.

I haven’t gone so far as to committing to something CrAzY like wearing makeup every day (although I keep up my lip balm routine religiously), but I think this is definitely a step in the right direction.


Mandy said...

I wish I had your strength. I should really do this too. I live in pajamas/sweats/yoga pants. My girls also have house clothes and dress clothes, but I think I should also make the effort to have them presentable. I think I will make the effort when I pull out the spring clothes!

As for me... I think I'll make an effort to wear jeans and yoga pants. I'll save the pajama pants for bed. I don't think anyone looks good in sweats but they are just so warm and comfy that I can't throw them out. Small steps in the right direction!

I do religiously treat every piece of the ladies clothing with shout before it is thrown in the laundry to avoid stains. That gets me two points right?!

Twin Mama said...

I just ran onto your blog and love this post. I have twin boys that are almost three and two other children. I usually make sure my kids are dressed in actual clothes. Their wardrobes are mostly casual, easily laundered, comfortable, yet presentable clothes. Myself on the other hand...I am ashamed to say that unless I am going somewhere I wear a "uniform" of yoga pants and a t-shirt. Most of the time with the thought of, how nice do I really need to look to clean toilets, change diapers, and play with trains. It's funny that you write this as I was just thinking the other day that I need to start dressing myself a little more presentable, yet still making sure that my kids know that "looks" are not the most important part of a person. Sorry to ramble!

Julia said...

Again---great post, Mandy!

You'll have to let me know what you come up with for your new clothes selections! I would still like to get a couple more things.

I thought I was bad keeping my girls in 6 mo. onesies. I see I'm not alone :)

Can't wait to bust out the new spring clothes for the girls, and give them some wear. I have to say---I really think that baby/toddler clothing makers should stick to dark colors. I mean really---it makes NO sense to make anything in light colors, especially white, until they are 4 or 5. And even then I'm not so sure!

Beth said...

As usual, you have me thinking. I have fully succumbed to the yoga pants and random t-shirt uniform when we are home. It has gotten so bad that the other day I went to get the quads up and I was wearing jeans and a nicer shirt. Julia immediately asked, "Where are you going, Mommy?" She knew that Mommy doesn't dress like that at home.

I try to keep the kids dressed well. The other day we were going out and I realized that all of the kids had adorable outfits and shoes, the girls had their hair fixed with bows, and I was wearing jeans, an old sweater and no make-up with my hair in a ponytail (in my defense, it *was* clean!) I'm sure I looked like the kids unfortunate nanny or something.

I don't want my kids to learn that we should take care of everyone but ourselves. I need them to know that I am (and they are) worth taking a few minutes to look nice and feel good about myself. Thanks for another great post and something to think about!

Christina said...

I always at least brush the girls hair and make sure they are in clean clothes and their faces are washed. Me? I rock sweats and don't wear makeup much...I'm comfortable in my own skin, and hope the girls will be too, regardless if they are in a dress or sweats like their Momma. =)

Anonymous said...

i started thinking about this a few weeks ago when someone said to T: "oh! you have on JEANS today!!!" like it was a huge deal. i tend to dress my kids in sweats/knit pants/yoga pants and onsies. i think it's just easier and tends to make them comfortable, too, you know?

i shower a LOT more now that i work out more. for a time the kids were bathing more than me, lol. and i swore i'd never be one of those moms!

i think that you can be comfortable at home. isn't that a more important lesson? that in your home it doesn't matter what you look like? ;)

Barbara Manatee said...

Showering was always a priority for me, too, even when the kids were lil. I NEED a shower to wake up even more than a cup of coffee. Obviously with working, I have to be put together each day - dressed for school and hair/makeup put together.

I'll admit, I'm very self conscious about myself so I rarely go without makeup and don't like to go out in my glasses (vs contacts). I keep my make up simple but its there every day. My hair varies a lot but still presentable :-)

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

I'm so proud of you!!! You know that I'm a makeup girl (hair? not so much) and it does make you feel better. On the days that I don't go to the gym, I do put on an "outfit" and feel really good about myself. It makes a difference. The Crazies pick out their own outfits at this I type, Hailey is wearing her Christmas dress...I give her credit...I'm still in my jammies!