“Stars without makeup: the photos they don’t want you to see,” read the headline.
Their photos were plastered across the cover, puffy and pasty, skin sagging, hair all disheveled. They looked almost as casual as I did at the moment. With no makeup, comfy sweats and flip-flops, I would not have been mistaken for a beauty queen.
Luckily, there were no paparazzi hiding behind the counter, waiting to snap a photo of me scowling at the headline. But I easily could have seen someone I knew. Anyone, really, as I ran errands in my own neighborhood, looking quite bedraggled.
My scowl was caused by the headline that showcased the very attitude that robs our children. The wicked satisfaction in pointing out our flaws. The savor we feel when we see that our favorite star is a real person — just like us.
The necessity we feel to always achieve a certain level of primping and preening is costing us, ladies. The money we sink into products, the time we spend in front of mirrors, and most tragically, our self confidence. Don’t you know someone who doesn’t have the confidence to run to the store without “their face on?” Have you ever run into a dear friend, only to have them apologize for being “undone?”
Where, along the way, have we forgotten that we “play” dress up, and we make plans to “see,” not “look at,” our friends and loved ones?
I recently attended a fancy schmancy outing. I won’t lie, it was fun to pick out a cocktail outfit. I had my hair done for the occasion, bought new jewelry, dug out a fancy purse and tottered around in high heels. The whole process took me days. Two whole days, to be exact, doing my nails, trying on clothes, seeking the right shoes. At the end of the night, my feet were killing me from those “right” shoes. In photos of myself, I looked exactly like — well — like me. Like me in a dress.
What if I’d spent less time getting ready and the rest of the time, oh, say, writing? Or doing something meaningful with my family? Or reading an amazing book?
I’m learning more and more that the most precious thing I have is time. Spending my money wisely is important, but frivolous expenditures of time are the things that cause me the most regret. There will always be another paycheck, but those minutes and hours just tick by.
Raising our kids to equate their self-worth with their appearance is a heist on a grand scale. The money factor is real. And over a lifetime, months of our lives are spent on the temporary, painting on our false facades and contorting our hair into unnatural positions. But the most costly bill, I would argue, is paid in self confidence.
I’m very grateful to my own mom for the example she set for me. She can take a shower and be ready to leave the house in 5 minutes flat — no joke. She opts for practical over fussy. She rocks the 3-minute hairdo — the one that you muss and fluff and falls into place, looking natural and free.
My extended family loves T-shirts and jeans. We wear sweatshirts to family get-togethers, and makeup is always optional. Our bling is our smiles and our laughter.
Even knowing that conforming to society’s rules for how women look is optional, I’ll probably never bow out of the “pretty game” completely. I’m too conditioned by those participation trophies and the presumed smugness of the “beautiful people.” But one thing I know: My daughter will see me unapologetically leave the house in my natural state. She will see me with friends, laughing without my mascara, and I will teach her that a fake facade is not a representation of what’s inside.
Overland Park mom and freelancer Emily Parnell writes weekly.