Assuming Her Life Must Be Easy, But Really, It’s Not

One of my friends (we’ll call her Hannah) has been slightly overweight all of her adult life. We never discussed it much as she never felt hindered by it, nor expressed desire to change it. Then, unexpectedly one day Hannah admitted to me that she had admired one woman in particular for nearly 20 years who was married to her husband’s colleague. Hannah almost-resentfully stared at the woman’s incredibly fit and slim figure at every work function. Then, at their most recent corporate gathering, Hannah was shocked to see that this same woman had gained some weight due to hormonal changes and major family problems causing her stress.

Hannah learned that this woman who Hannah had built up in her mind as having a very “easy life” – blessed with money and model-like genes – had spent the last 20 years in regimented self-discipline, following a healthy diet and strict work out schedule to avoid the actual genetic makeup of her overweight family. Hannah proceeded in a somber tone, confessing to me that she had spent an embarrassing amount of time judging and envying the woman as having an “easy” life. She confessed quietly, “I guess some women really do work for it.” She wrongly assumed the woman’s strong body and groomed appearance were as natural as the weather. She also wrongly assumed that money ensured happiness in their marriage.

My friend isn’t the only one who made a wrong assumption and believed the “lie of ease”.

If you have read my About Me page, you know I love watching QVC when I have time. Over the summer, I saw this stunning woman selling beauty cream. She was a vendor, not a QVC host. I was mesmerized by her beauty and really tuned in when she mentioned her age. I could not imagine that this woman was around my age when her figure was so slim and her skin so flawless. I stared at the kitchen television wondering what it must be like to have life “so easy”…a dream job, a spectacular face and body…

Then, I saw her again about a month later, pitching her products. In passing, she mentioned how having a regular routine was helping through a health struggle. Now, I was really intrigued about her age, children’s ages and this health issue. So, I googled her. To my deep sadness, I learned that she is battling a serious cancer diagnosis. She simply chooses to still pull herself together, do her hair and go to work, no matter how tired she is.

I was so angry with myself. I literally made a sweeping assumption that a woman who got a terrific job, who does extensive traveling and has the skin of a 25-year old must go home to chandeliers, servants and ease.

A little bit of effort on the outside tends to make onlookers (most but not all) think a woman’s “life must be easy” in all aspects.

Unlike when we were in our 20’s, effort is usually (for most women, not all) required just to reach “decent”. Why? Because by the time most of us are over 40, we’ve been through some stuff. We’re a bit worn out. We’ve cried a lot. We’ve grieved, been passed over, treated less-than and raised teenagers. Hormone changes begin, leaving sagging skin and soft muscles. Even mild effort is required just to feel decent, let alone look presentable.

This “making it look easy” goes beyond our appearance. People who also put in even a small amount of effort housekeeping, raising their kids, or volunteering, receive assumptions that they “have nothing else to do”. “If they can bake the brownies, they must not be that busy.” “Must be nice to have time to run the school fundraiser.” “Who has time to attend every one of Johnny’s games?” They too only have 24-hours in a day, they just decide to give up some Netflix to help out and support others.

I know better. The grass isn’t greener, it’s just different grass. It’s rare that I fall into assumptions any more, but occasionally I do. The truth is, when we admire something in someone else, there is usually considerable mental discipline and/or physical effort they are expending when we are not watching.

Excruciatingly few, if any, humans truly have it “easy”.

You’re More Than Your Looks, My Daughter, Friend, Sister…

(Photo:aliexpress.com)

One of my daughters is a major fashionista. From the moment we said “yes” to makeup at 13, she wore it daily. Now 19, her wardrobe far surpasses anyone else in the house. I’m fine with it except for the now and then when she begins focusing too much on the “outside”. This leads me on a rant about the true value of a woman – just as I do after seeing someone as revolting as Beyonce be recognized as a role model for young women – I throw up, and then I give my girls yet another lesson in what it means to be a beautiful woman.

Important disclaimer: I’m a highlighted blonde, wear makeup, and enjoy cute clothes as much as the next girl. I enjoy all things “girl”. I offer this disclaimer because people tend to believe that only women who are makeup-less or attend parties in sweats truly believe that “you are more than your looks”.

Us girls in my house like clothes, makeup and shopping. But, genuine beauty comes from within. Period. Regardless of how old we are, we want to – and should – take care of the outside. But, our society has lost its mind telling us and our daughters that we really are only the sum of our sultry, sexy, skinny and sassy.

What about being fun? Interesting? Interested? Confident? Well-read? A person with hobbies and passion and curiosity about the world? Silly and sweet and thoughtful? These and other qualities make people truly attractive.

This societal lie transcends generations. I know a grandmother who actually suggested her granddaughter buy a shorter skirt, despite the fact that the girl felt like a princess in a flowing skirt below her knees. The grandmother would also prefer trendier clothes on the teenager. Well into her 70s, the woman remains focused upon appearances. She will leave a legacy of superficiality instead of accepting, loving and caring for others. 

Do we love? Do we hold the tongue when appropriate and tongue-lash someone when that is appropriate? Yes, taking a stand when needed is strength and that’s beautiful.

Here is what I have above my daughters’ bedroom doorway: Does a gal’s new outfit or new mascara put a spring in her step and lift her posture? Of course! Heck, we all know that when we feel like our skin and hair are a mess, we would rather hide behind the sales rack then run into someone we know. When the outside is looking good, we walk taller and hope we’ll run into someone we haven’t seen in years!

Nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is a society, celebrities, and endless trails of filth telling our girls they are only their appearance. Women who any one of us would identify as “stunning” are just as susceptible to believing they are unattractive. And, there are women who are initially stunning in our eyes who eventually become the ugliest humans we have ever met. The beauty of kindness – or not – shows up in a woman’s face.

I’m on this topic because I have two daughters. Because I am a woman living in this society – in the world though not of it – and there is pressure. While I can bemoan this as an adult, nothing matches the pressure of the American high school.

So, how do we convey this to our precious daughters bombarded by middle school and high school hallways full of rebellious, scantily-clad, hair-tossing peers?

Tell them. That their bodies are sacred. That happy girls really are so pretty in any room…at any party.

Tell them they are beautiful. The sisters, friends and daughters. Over and over and over…because they ARE.

 

 

 

My face through my son’s hockey helmet

Throwback Thursday: 5/23/13

My son’s wide, blue eyes beamed through the cage of his hockey helmet, and I noticed he was really looking at me.  I was standing over him in the Emergency Room, as he lay on a stretcher, still in full uniform from the concussion he suffered an hour earlier.  He almost seemed to be studying my face for reassurance, so I leaned in closer, tenderly comforting him that everything was going to be fine.

“Mama?” he beckoned quietly, still intensely staring at me through the metal bars.

I gently touched his sweaty, disgusting shoulder pad, as if it was a soft, delicate rose.  “Yes, sweetheart?”  My tone dripping with Motherly devotion toward her only son.

“You have a lot of holes in your face.”

The sweet smile froze to my cheeks supernaturally, though my eyebrows rose higher and I blinked a few times, attempting to process the comment.  Understand that I was experiencing that every-now-and-then moment Moms have when our children are hurting and we gaze upon them as if they are angels with halos, lavishing affection and adoration, leaving our hearts utterly exposed.  I was stunned.  Then hurt.  Then, a little annoyed.

Did he not see how cute I looked when we left for the rink?  Did he somehow not hear the ear-piercing sound of my heart beating wildly out of my chest as the rink medical staff ran onto the ice tending to his motionless body?  Did he miss the sweat pouring down my face in the ambulance, although I felt cold and was violently shaking?

Drips of love fell from those outrageous numbers of pores while he was being hauled off of an ice rink floor!  The iron will that prevented me from launching into my perspective of the last 60 minutes was only recently developed, after fielding unnecessary remarks made by my son since he became a teenager.

The nurse began taking off his uniform, freeing me up to scan my face in the paper towel holder on the wall.  No visible pores.  We stopped to buy him a taco on the way home from the hospital and I ducked into the ladies room for a quick peek.  Not the skin of a 30-year old, but no cavernous valleys were apparent.  After three hours, five x-rays, a CT, two doctors, and a $1,573 bill, all I could focus on was how to reduce the size of my pores!

Promptly the next day, I pulled out a facial gift certificate that I hadn’t used in the 10 months since it was given to me.  The spa had an opening, and I jumped in the car.  The aesthetician handed me a questionnaire in the dimly lit room.  After 20 silly questions peculiarly unrelated to my face, the form got down to business.  “What brings you in for a facial today?”  Answer:  enlarged pores.  “What is your #1 concern that you would like addressed?”  Answer: pores diminished.  “If you would purchase one product from our line today, what do you hope it would accomplish?”  You know.

As the 40-something beauty began working on my face, I asked whether she read the form I filled out.  “Shhh….just relax.”  I shifted irritably under my pretty little towel.  My pores didn’t feel any tighter and we were in there at least five minutes already.

“So, how do my pores look?” I asked casually.

She pushed down my shoulders.  “Relax.”

Relax?!  Who can relax now that we are 20 minutes into this and she may not have even read the sheet?!

Suddenly, the aroma of something I never smell at home filled my senses.  It was gentle, calming, forcing me against my will to sink deeper into the soft bed beneath me.  The smell was definitely not the sweaty hockey equipment my husband tends to dry over the heater vents in my kitchen.

My sweet boy actually did me a favor.  I decided to release his remark and my foolish reaction.  He was a teenager who called it like he saw it, albeit a supremely poor time to announce a flaw in his indulgent Mother.  I searched my memory for the last time I had a facial.  Surely it had been years and after all that child put me through over the weekend, I decided to enjoy what time was left of the rare pampering experience.

My face through my son’s hockey helmet…

My son’s wide, Poresblue eyes beamed through the cage of his hockey helmet, and I noticed he was really looking at me.  I was standing over him in the Emergency Room, as he lay on a stretcher, still in full uniform from the concussion he suffered an hour earlier.  He almost seemed to be studying my face for reassurance, so I leaned in closer, tenderly comforting him that everything was going to be fine.

“Mama?” he beckoned quietly, still intensely staring at me through the metal bars.

I gently touched his sweaty, disgusting shoulder pad, as if it was a soft, delicate rose.  “Yes, sweetheart?”  My tone dripping with Motherly devotion toward her only son.

“You have a lot of holes in your face.”

The sweet smile froze to my cheeks supernaturally, though my eyebrows rose higher and I blinked a few times, attempting to process the comment.  Understand that I was experiencing that every-now-and-then moment Moms have when our children are hurting and we gaze upon them as if they are angels with halos, lavishing affection and adoration, leaving our hearts utterly exposed.  I was stunned.  Then hurt.  Then, a little annoyed.

Did he not see how cute I looked when we left for the rink?  Did he somehow not hear the ear-piercing sound of my heart beating wildly out of my chest as the rink medical staff ran onto the ice tending to his motionless body?  Did he miss the sweat pouring down my face in the ambulance, although I felt cold and was violently shaking?

Drips of love fell from those outrageous numbers of pores while he was being hauled off of an ice rink floor!  The iron will that prevented me from launching into my perspective of the last 60 minutes was only recently developed, after fielding unnecessary remarks made by my son since he became a teenager.

The nurse began taking off his uniform, freeing me up to scan my face in the paper towel holder on the wall.  No visible pores.  We stopped to buy him a taco on the way home from the hospital and I ducked into the ladies room for a quick peek.  Not the skin of a 30-year old, but no cavernous valleys were apparent.  After three hours, five x-rays, a CT, two doctors, and a $1,573 bill, all I could focus on was how to reduce the size of my pores!

Promptly the next day, I pulled out a facial gift certificate that I hadn’t used in the 10 months since it was given to me.  The spa had an opening, and I jumped in the car.  The aesthetician handed me a questionnaire in the dimly lit room.  After 20 silly questions peculiarly unrelated to my face, the form got down to business.  “What brings you in for a facial today?”  Answer:  enlarged pores.  “What is your #1 concern that you would like addressed?”  Answer: pores diminished.  “If you would purchase one product from our line today, what do you hope it would accomplish?”  You know.

As the 40-something beauty began working on my face, I asked whether she read the form I filled out.  “Shhh….just relax.”  I shifted irritably under my pretty little towel.  My pores didn’t feel any tighter and we were in there at least five minutes already.

“So, how do my pores look?” I asked casually.

She pushed down my shoulders.  “Relax.”

Relax?!  Who can relax now that we are 20 minutes into this and she may not have even read the sheet?!

Suddenly, the aroma of something I never smell at home filled my senses.  It was gentle, calming, forcing me against my will to sink deeper into the soft bed beneath me.  The smell was definitely not the sweaty hockey equipment my husband tends to dry over the heater vents in my kitchen.

My sweet boy actually did me a favor.  I decided to release his remark and my foolish reaction.  He was a teenager who called it like he saw it, albeit a supremely poor time to announce a flaw in his indulgent Mother.  I searched my memory for the last time I had a facial.  Surely it had been years and after all that child put me through over the weekend, I decided to enjoy what time was left of the rare pampering experience.