On the last day of my maternity leave, I blankly stared at the clothes in my closet. I would return to work as the Morning Anchor for WISH-TV in Indianapolis the next morning and I had nothing to wear. It wasn’t about the fit (I, like many women, still had 15 pounds to lose). The problem was the clothes. They weren’t mine, at least they didn’t feel like it anymore. I thought, “You need to reclaim your identity.”
This must be someone else’s closet, I thought. The clothes staring back at me belonged to a different woman, a childless, 20-something with a workout regimen and a regular social calendar. They belonged to a woman who dutifully followed orders of what to buy and what to wear during her decade spent in television. They belonged to a woman that wasn’t me anymore. I was 30 now. I was a momnow and somewhere along the way my perception of myself had changed. The problem was I didn’t know what to do about it.
Despite my unhappiness with my clothes and how I looked, I didn’t make any visible changes, post-baby. Change is scary. Change is expensive. I was stuck. I kept my hair long and kept buying the same type of clothes and jewelry for my on-air appearance even though they were looking outdated. These things worked before, so why didn’t they work now?
This went on for two years until October 2017 when that all changed. A friend of mine, who is a professional stylist, gave legitimate tough love as she went through my closet and eliminated more than half of my wardrobe in less than 15 minutes. Nearly everything she pulled out came with the judgement “this isn’t you; who’s is this?” It was the same thing I had been saying for two years.
This same friend helped guide me to an entirely new hairstyle, makeup style and wardrobe. She helped me get back on track to the real me, and I felt it on a cellular level. With her help, I cut twelve inches from my hair and embraced the wavy, wild things my hair does naturally. She also helped me change my makeup so that I wear way less and apply it in half the time.
The whole process took nearly two months. It wasn’t fast or cheap, but it was what I needed to do two years ago. It took guts to change the things I had been so comfortable with for so long. I had been a “yes (wo)man” in the style department. But instead of taking orders, I had now taken charge. This is how you reclaim your identity.
I work in a business where “how a woman looks” runs a close second to “what she says.” The wrong choices on my appearance could’ve been disastrous, but I took the leap, and the result is a ferociously, fearless me that can’t be carbon copied.
So much about me has changed in these two years, and I understand now I didn’t allow myself to show it or embrace who I had become. I needed to give myself permission to be this new version of myself. The change had already happened inside and I needed to allow myself to evolve on the outside, too.
If you’re still reading this blog, you may need to do exactly what I did. Don’t put off your much-needed change any longer. Stop holding on to unflattering clothes you’ll never wear again, especially if you think they’re what you’re supposed to wear for your job or for your friends. What’s the point in keeping clothes you hate or clothes that don’t look amazing on you? You’re only doing yourself a disservice by not trusting your gut.
If you have a sister or a friend who’s style you admire (and who isn’t afraid to set you straight), bring them over. Open a bottle of wine and get real with your closet. Tell them to put the hurt on the clothes that need to be gone for good. If you haven’t worn something in two years, definitely get rid of it. I know, I know, it’s hard to part with things you spent your hard-earned money on, but this is your identity we’re talking about. This is the face you show the world.
If your makeup needs a refresh, go to the mall. Let someone do it for you and see if you like what they did. Ask questions as they’re applying it because you need to know how to replicate the style. If you don’t like what they did, try another makeup artist at another counter. When you find something you like, take a hard look at your own makeup bag and see what can be adapted to fit that new style and application. (Side note: The makeup artists on Youtube are super talented, but they’re doing makeup on their face, not your face. Their look is not your look. Go to someone in-person for help.)
When it comes to your hair, if you’re not obsessed with it, it’s time to change. Start a Pinterest board and show your stylist. If they can’t make it happen, ask your girlfriends who they love and get an appointment. This process can be as cheap or expensive as you want. It can involve every aspect of your appearance or just one or two things that just don’t feel right. You owe it to yourself after all you’ve done to bring life into this world and into your family.
I did all of those things, and I can happily say for the first time since my daughter was born two years ago I finally feel like my appearance matches the person I am on the inside. There’s a harmony in style and spirit and I no longer feel a discord between who people see on TV and who I really am.
If you make changes, I can promise you this about the woman you’ll uncover: the new you — the mom you — is so much cooler. The mom you is driven. The mom you has killer instincts in every other part of life. If you commit, you will no longer be blind to the changes mom you needs to make. I believe in the real you, Mom, and I can’t wait to see you embrace and define the incredible woman inside!
Lauren Lowrey is the Emmy-award winning anchor of WISH-TV’s Daybreak from 5am-10am every weekday morning. She is a recovering health nut, aspiring chef and closet ballroom dancer. She lives in Zionsville, IN with her husband and 2-year old daughter.