I may not be beautiful, but I can be pretty

I picked up Molly Ringwald's latest book, Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick, never expecting to get more than just a good night's read before falling asleep. Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself nodding vigorously for about the first 20 pages, and taking notes as I zoomed through the first 50 pages in less than an hour. This is not War and Peace, nor does it pretend to be, it's just the musings of a newly 40-something woman who's realizing that she's given up on being pretty and instead allowed herself to slump into mediocrity because it's so much easier that way.

First, let's dispel the myth that "pretty" is only for beautiful women: that's crap. You can be the plainest girl in your crowd (I'm putting my hand in the air and waving it around - that's definitely me) but still be pretty. Pretty is a state of mind...it's that feeling you get when your hair is done, you have more than just moisturizer and sunscreen on your face, you LOVE what you're wearing, and you have spent more than 20 seconds choosing the shoes, handbag, and jewelry you're wearing. It's giving a damn. I haven't been pretty in a very long time other than for special occasions. (And really, what's more special than having dinner with my husband and daughter? Or gardening with my 20 year old? Or driving an engineering meeting at work?)

So I'm pledging right now that I will make a concerted effort to be pretty more often. What does that mean to me?
  • Getting rid of ugly clothes that I'm keeping just because they fit me. This includes every baggy, ugly, logo'd tee shirt I own. And the pants that fit me in the waist but look like MC Hammer pants in the hips, thighs, and butt. If I don't love wearing it, it's going...even if I only have one outfit afterward.
  • I have a hair cut and color appointment tonight and I'm going to do something more inventive than "just make sure I don't have to blow dry it" with my hair. I have slacked off so much of late that I can't remember the last time I tried to style my hair beyond running a brush through it and either putting in a hair band or using my glasses to hold it back
  • I ran by Target later tonight to pick up more mascara (mine is more than 6 months old), some eyelining pencils, and a new lipstick (Cherries in the Snow by Revlon). I only have gel liner at home right now and I hate that it always migrates up my eyelid as the day goes by, so I'm going to get one brown and one plum pencil, then commit to using them every work day. (Not sure if I will on weekends or not yet.) My new make up routine will be: tinted moisturizer with SPF 20, loose powder, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. Less than five minutes to feel pretty again? That's a bargain!
  • Up my walking from 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week. That's an extra 75 minutes a week and a step closer to the 60 minutes my primary care physician would like to see me doing. How is walking going to contribute to getting my pretty back? No, it's not the obvious weight loss connection that I'm focused on here, it's about taking care of my body because a body that is neglected and abused is distinctly NOT pretty
That's it for now but I'm sure I'll add more as I go along. I'm sure some of you are thinking that this is incredibly superficial, especially given the health challenges that I have right now (including diabetes and binge eating), but you have to understand that it's all tied together for me...caring enough to put on eyeliner, style my hair, and wear pretty shoes instead of just comfy ones will hopefully lead to caring enough not to binge, to eat fruits and vegetables instead of fast food, and, eventually, to a smaller body that puts less strain on my back, hips, knees, and feet.


gingersnapper said…
I don't think it's superficial at all - it's part of you believing you're worth taking care of and as deserving of effort as anything else in your life.

I admit that I'm not a makeup-hair-and-clothes gal. To me those things are burdensome constraints on my life, not symbols of self-esteem. But that's me; we all have different symbols and different ways of interpreting our lives - I totally GET your purpose and applaud it!
Melissa said…
Totally NOT superficial! I know that I have clothes that fit and yet still don't like how they make me feel so I've made a point to just give them away--what's the point of wearing something that makes me feel bad? It's hard, though, isn't it?
I am also in desperate need of a haircut and color but between the daily running (can't run after having it colored) and don't want to run after having it styled, my schedule is crazy and oh, yeah, it's expensive. But yes, totally worth it.
I need to get better about makeup--in the summer I don't need it as much as I feel pretty sunkissed but in the winter--I need to be better.
I think you have an excellent plan of attack for feeling good!
Lys said…
I don't think it's superficial at all! You've done so much giving to others over the years that you need to take care of you. I think it's great that you are doing this - and I've been meaning to read this book but it's been sitting on the table untouched. I will start reading it tonight!
Missy said…
It's nice when the outside matches the inside. And when the outside is unkempt and not "pretty", the inside is usually pretty close to feeling like the outside.

I applaud your effort! And I resolve to do the same. It can't hurt, right?! :)
Shauna said…
Good on you Denise! And have fun with your haircut :) You have inspired me, i've been so blah lately that I've not even bothered with the moisturizer.
I loooove Molly Ringwald, might have to check out her book :)
Jenn said…
I need to start making more of an effort. I've become so... lazy, really, I get up at the very last possible minute to jump in the shower, put on makeup, and let my hair air dry in the car before throwing it up in a clip. I need to take the time to get up just a little earlier to actually style my hair and make it look like I care.

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