Esteem Yourself.

MeDeeFunnyFaceA couple of months ago I started contributing regularly as a beauty writer on Babble. After a long long struggle to reclaim my style after letting it completely fall by the wayside in hopes of disappearing in to my postpartum depression, I realized that I felt strongly that taking care of your appearance and wanting to look good were not a bad thing. Quite the opposite actually.

For me, the desire to express myself through my clothing and appearance is inextricably tied to my self confidence. When it’s up, getting dressed is a joy. The first creative act of my day. One of those increasingly rare things I do entirely for me. Every accessory, every color choice is a small piece of the narrative I hope my day has in store. But when it’s down? I just don’t give a shit. I don’t want to be looked at, noticed, or even seen at all.

I think about what other people think of me more than I’d like to admit. I don’t worry about it, per se, or even necessarily take it in to consideration, but I do think about it. I always have, to some degree or another. There was a time, deep in the throes of my depression, when it dictated my every move. I was certain that everything I did would be the subject of criticism (by who? I honestly have no idea…) and as a result every move I made was fearful and overly cautious in hopes of just not seeming like a total fucking failure at life to my imaginary judging panel.

But you know what I didn’t do while I was so worried what everyone else would think? I didn’t get dressed. I didn’t put on makeup. I didn’t style my hair, or even really bother with it at all. Because as it turns out, how I look and the effort I put in to it may truly be one of the few things that are ALL. ABOUT. ME.

That realization was huge. That realization changed the way I thought about beauty altogether. It seems silly, I know. Trivial even. But our appearances AREN’T trivial. It’s not shallow to want to reflect your inside on your outside. There is power and confidence in looking the way you feel, and anyone who has ever taken a fashion risk can attest, that power and confidence MUST come from within or you’ll get laughed off the proverbial stage of life.

For as long as I could remember, beauty and vanity had been ugly words that I would never have felt comfortable applying to myself. In no uncertain terms: Beauty was something I wanted and coveted but never spoke about for fear of appearing vain. I don’t even know where I got that idea. My parents told me I was alternately smart, valuable, and beautiful the appropriate amount. I just always held that weird belief. I didn’t talk about feeling or wanting to feel beautiful. I just didn’t.

So this new thing where I write about beauty on the regular? It’s been really liberating for me. Standing up and saying that I think it’s okay, and hell, even important to spend time on looking the way you want to is a new idea for me, and I’m really enjoying it.

But then yesterday it happened. Someone left a comment on a post of mine that appeared on Yahoo! taking aim at my parenting and overall moral composition because I’ve opted to write publicly about experimental beauty choices.

“So she admits that she’s not in her 20s, I assume she’s in her 30s then. Why is she wearing pink/purple hair? Especially now she has a kid? That’s a great influence. And to be so addicted to makeup she’d go to these extremes? I sure hope that little one isn’t a daughter or she’s going to grow up with some pretty bad self image issues.”

My editor emailed me to let me know the post had been featured on Shine, so I clicked over to see how it looked. I mean, a post about eyelash dipping is hardly my life’s masterwork, but still when I clicked over and the first thing I saw was the comment above, I felt my heart drop and the blood drain from my face. It was like every critical thought and/or worry that had ever run through my head all summed up in one random person’s internet vitriol.

And then I took a deep breath and shut the browser window. I felt stupid. Just for a second. But then I reminded myself: I knew what the opposition was going to be to making those beauty choices when I made them. That commenter couldn’t have been the first person to think those things, it’s just that random strangers on the street don’t often find the balls to walk up and tell you all the shitty things they think about you based on the way you look. I realized that the comment stung me in all the right places, but the reality was, when I really thought about it,  I didn’t care. 

It’s not like it never occurred to me that someone might judge a Mom with purple hair or visible tattoos. It obviously did. For a long time I chose not to be “that Mom” because of it. But the thing is, “that Mom” is actually who I am happiest being. I am a Mom like hopefully many others who leaves the house in the morning looking how she wants to and feeling comfortable in her own skin. And believe me when I tell you that feeling comfortable in my skin sets a much better example for my daughter than the miserable introvert I had become while I sat cowering in the corner of life worried about what other people were going to think of me.

Feed Me Seymour

  28 comments for “Esteem Yourself.

  1. September 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    yeah I got a nasty blog comment yesterday as well about appearance. Seems like it’s just the thing to do.. .judge someone before you know them.

    Not for a second does having pink/purple/blue/green hair make you a bad mom. Nor does caring about your beauty/appareance.

    People just need to relax.

  2. September 13, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Children care about being loved and cared for, not how
    mom looks. They only care about that when they are teenagers,
    and that’s a no win situation way in your future. Carry on, you are beautiful
    inside & out.

  3. September 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    From one tattooed, colorful momma to another I say rock on! Lets be honest here, I don’t even want to think about how the world (and our kids) will be dressing on the next 10-20. It’s possible we’ll all be tattooed and colorful. Or it could be worse….crocs!

  4. September 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    This is making me tear up. I currently have pink hair, visible tattoos and would love it if I just appear to people like I could care less if they give a fuck. But I do. Today I picked my kids up from the car loop at school and saw a new teacher, maybe a substitute, she spotted my hair and literally laughed, turned to another teacher who I saw look my way as the other was talking. For a moment I felt embarrassed, wished I’d just blend in and go unnoticed, but then I too snapped back to reality and decided I’m not going to let it affect me. Just because one square peg thinks I look ridiculous doesn’t mean a thing. In fact I started to immediately feel bad for her.

    My daughter is in 5th grade and has had both pink and purple hair so far. I am proud she has the balls to do her own thing and care not what other people think. If only I could have been that confident when I was a kid her age.

    Thanks for sharing. I needed this today.

  5. September 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I love your look — can you come dress and accessorize me? — and I bet your daughter does, too. She sees you having fun with fashion, which translates to loving yourself. That seems like ideal role modeling to me.

    BTW, covering grey hair, wearing lip color, and shaving legs, which we all accept as normal beauty practices, even must-dos, are more about rejecting one’s natural self than dying hair purple, which is like, “Hey, let’s get silly!” or really a wink at traditional hair-dying.

  6. September 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    People suck sometimes. I love myself more with purple hair than I do with gray hair. I know I am more than what you see, but why can’t I make myself something I like to see. Tattoos, fun hair–how can you hate yourself when you look so fun?!?!?

    BTW–Hair color party at my place! I have indigo and fuchsia…and they mix to make a lovely purple. Who’s in?!!??!

    • Morgan
      September 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Seriously, have you been affected by the Special Effects purple pigment shortage as badly as I have? Because UGH.

      • September 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        I use Vero K-Pack and Pravana. Love them both. I have a peacock ombre chunk that goes from teal to purple. The Pravana teal is GORGEOUS and still looks great almost 2 months later w/out a touch up. My friend is a stylist and she gave me the Vero K-Pak so I can touch up my purple, so that always looks fresh. :)

        • Morgan
          September 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm

          Ooooh, good to know. My stylist just recommended Pravana, I’ve been doing my own color, but we’re going to give it a try next week!

  7. Courtney
    September 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I’m that cookie cutter looking mom. Except I look 12 with a 4 year old and 2 year old. I look the way the other “suburbia” moms look, but just a whole lot younger. It kills me to be judged on how I look. I’m always being asked if I am the nanny or big sister. I have yet to give an angry reply, but I want to! Isn’t it strange how we feel about how we look? You’re a great mom with pink hair. I have the lifestyle of a 40 year old. The world is cruel and judgemental, but we can set a better example. There’s something to be said about a mom that leads by example, and showing self esteem isn’t something you can teach your child with a heart to heart, it’s your confidence in the face of the “mean girls” around every corner. One of my biggest hopes for my daughter is self confidence and with self confidence, comes kindness. Keep in mind those judgemental commenters are just another way to show your daughter how confident, kind women respond to hateful comments. Enjoy the ride!

  8. September 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I can relate to this on so many levels. I am not colorful, but tattooed, and that throws people to the moon when they see them because I fit a much different “blonde, vanilla” stereotype. I also look much younger than I am (although I am a young mom) and I cannot tell you how many women immediately look at my hand. It’s not just my imagination, it’s SO obvious. It’s taken my nearly 6 years since my oldest was born but I am slowly finding that confidence in *me* again.

  9. September 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I just dyed my hair deep red and added a purple streak on the side. I’m 41. I love purple. My kids think it’s cool. My husband could give a rat’s ass (in a good way :) ) and I’d be happy to shoot the shit with you about how our kids will grow up knowing their moms felt comfortable enough in their skin.

  10. September 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    It’s impossible for you to know unless I tell you, but I look at you, with your fantastic more than alive hair, your bravery and guts with your get that new make up trick done thing, and I think, “Why can’t I be like that? Why can’t I look like I’m thrilled to be alive and living and thriving like her?”

    And now you know the other side of that comment flip.

    You must look like stardust fallen from heaven to your little girl.

    I would adore a mommy like you.

  11. September 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    What a hateful close-minded comment. Sounds like whoever wrote that is suffering in their own right. You don’t need me to tell you what a kick ass human being you are but seriously, you ROCK and it has been a joy to see you pull yourself out of sweatpants and back into glamour where you belong. You are an inspiration to Dee. A strong confident role model with lots of color! She is already finding joy in her own style and individuality. So, rock on wit yo bad self! Xo

  12. September 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I don’t judge people or how it reflects on their parenting if they have a funky colour of hair or facial piercing, but I do know that I couldn’t pull it off anymore. There was a point in my early 20s when I had blue hair and 9 piercings in my head, but I’m certain I’d just look ridiculous now. On the inside, I’ll always be her, but because of my job, I had to… wait for it… CONFORM. Some people don’t have those restraints and can totally pull it off, so kudos to them and you. It’s a personal choice, after all :)

  13. September 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Seriously? Someone told you you were a bad parent because of your hair color?? That’s ridiculous. If you left your kid wandering the streets & never fed em then that would make you a bad parent. Not what color your hair is! That person is obviously a very sad woman who dislikes herself an awful lot.

    Personally I love your hair! And I agree with what you wrote about not being true our ourself with how we want to look often leads us to feeling incomplete.

    Which is why at 42 I dyed a bit of my dark brown hair electric blue in the front. Granted I toned down one side of it because I liked it better on one side and not the other. The looks I get every so often by the parents at pick up are fascinating. Most who sort of know haven’t blinked. My style has never been the same as the normal suburban moms here to begin with(I was actually made to feel bad for wait for it, dressing in nice jeans & cute top & boots instead of yoga pants & shapeless shorts).

    My husband is the one who encouraged me to dye it. He knew I wanted to for a long while and told said go for it. My kids love it. My mother however was taken aback by it and said “but you’re a MOM”. And I laughed and said “So that means I have to be boring just because I gave birth? nuh uh” She still hasn’t gotten over my tattoo. Which I got over ten years ago. She thinks that because I live in a town that’s supposed to be a bit “upper middle class” that you need to be bleached blond and wear designer outfits to the grocery store. Nice one mom.

    Quirky and outside the box is my personality. Always has been. ‘

    I admit some of the weird looks make me feel bad but then I run that inner dialogue with myself that says ” you’re awesome, they can suck it”.

    So don’t ever feel bad for what you choose to make you feel good about you.

  14. September 14, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Lesson: Yahoo commenters are cray. Do not read.

    • Morgan
      September 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Lesson officially learned.

  15. Cityduckling
    September 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Negative comments are never about the recipient- always about the giver. All that nonsense that was spouted was likely about that person’s insecurity about their own looks and their own parenting!!! Deep breath. It’s NEVER about the recipient!

  16. Kelsi
    September 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Who gives a shit what you look like? You’re doing YOU, and if that makes you happy–THAT is the valuable lesson you’ll teach your daughter. To truly be happy, you have to love yourself first. Best life lesson EVER Momma!

  17. September 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Yes to all these comments, and to this post. I am 43 and just started singing in a rock band. If we don’t keep trying new things, we die. Let’s grow! And live!!!

  18. September 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I can tell by the picture in this post that your child is obviously suffering because of your horrible influence . Is your child happy and well-cared-for? Yes. So why the eff does it matter what color your hair is, or whether you have any at all?

    People suck. I’m sorry you had to deal with this.

  19. September 16, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I think you’re absolutely gorgeous and I love your style and that commenter is ridiculous and can go to hell.

  20. September 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    All I read from the commenter was jealousy. Jealousy that the lead a boring life or have a restrictive job that doesn’t allow for individuality.

  21. Faerie Barista
    September 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    People tend to think that once you become a mom you lose yourself and a lot of moms, myself included dive in it, then become upset and have to find themselves again. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  22. Lauren
    September 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I’m sure once Logan starts school my half sleeve will get comments by parents and teachers but when I’m your kids librarian, then what? It’s more common to be unique in appearance now and hopefully soon enough those commenters won’t exist. I love your purple pixie.

  23. Lindsey
    September 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    As a mom of 3 in my late 20s with many visible tattoos and a history of red/blue/orange (and all the other “normal” colors) hair who has been dealing with postpartum depression for the last 6 months, this post means more to me than I think you ever meant for it to. I can completely relate to so much you are saying, but at the same time I’m mourning my confidence that seems to have left me over the past couple years. It’s crazy, because my colorful personality is the thing those closest to me say is what makes me “me”, but after 5 years of living in a small texas town (not exactly where I saw myself) and married to a conservative professional man (who also thinks those “colorful” things about me are amazing) I’ve pushed it away out of fear of not looking like the “right kind of mom”. WHY!?!? Making changes in my life starting NOW. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. :)

  24. September 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I’m so sorry that there are asshats out there like that. Every has a different style… parenting style, fashion, etc. I cannot begin to imagine a world where everyone dresses and acts the same way. I’ve got to believe that the dickwagons out there who type away, anonymously criticizing others must be a miserable, pathetic people—so overwhelmed with self-doubt that they can’t imagine anything outside their realm of bullshit and inadequacies. You keep doing what you’re doing, and the rest be damned. As long as you have love, and your daughter’s best interest at heart, there’s no way she’ll suffer for it in the long run.

    And I think you’re darling. I only *wish* I could rock the purple hair.

    xo lynn

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