There I was, crying in front of my bathroom mirror on a Saturday morning because I accidentally got lash glue (it burns!) in my eye after an unsuccessful attempt at applying at-home lash extensions. You know, the cheaper, more convenient alternative to the salon lash extensions that require an appointment every two and a half weeks. My six-year-old daughter stood beside me and watched — “Mommy, why do have you have to wear those things?” I don’t, of course, but this was my attempt at giving myself a little boost after feeling slightly frumpy for months. Do I feel this way because of social media, or do I feel this way because I haven’t been giving my appearance enough attention? Either way, I can’t seem to keep up with beauty standards in the midst of this season of motherhood.
Sometimes I wonder how I got to this place. I was the girl who woke up at 5 am before high school to blow dry and curl my hair and do my makeup. I wasn’t overly obsessed with my appearance, but I did give it a fair amount of attention. Ironically, this is when I could’ve gotten away with rolling out of bed and going to school as-is. But, with no adult responsibilities and an endless amount of energy, my 17-year-old self had time to look extra put together. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself prioritizing sleep and caring less about how my hair looks, for better or worse.
I didn’t imagine myself being this way. I pictured myself as the mom who wakes up before her kids, works out, showers, and applies a full face of makeup. As it turns out, my kids don’t enjoy sleeping through the night even into the preschool years, and one of them prefers to be held all day. This results in messy buns and a make-up-free face most mornings.
While it does seem like our society is embracing the messy bun and legging life, I don’t always feel like I can keep up. In my early 30s, I already know a handful of people my age or younger who get Botox. Lash and brow salons are popping up all over the place, and I even know of people who have had some “post-baby plastic surgery.” These are all personal decisions, of course, but are we going to such extremes that we forgo aging gracefully? Sometimes I wonder if 70 will soon be the new 40.
As for me, I’d prefer that my daughter not see me cry over misplaced lash glue again. I don’t need to try to keep up with society’s beauty standards, but I would like to make more of an effort to keep up with my own. While I don’t think that we have to look a certain way to have value in society, I know that for my own health and well-being, I feel better when I get some exercise, drink water, and put on a little bit of makeup. I want my daughter to know that we don’t have to use the anti-aging serum or put on mascara, but if it makes us happy, then why not.
I can step away from societal standards and focus on my own definition of beauty, especially in the midst of this busy season of motherhood.