Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In my image.

Miss M asked me the other day, "Mommy, why do you wear make-up? "

Why Mommy Wears Make-Up. That's toughy. Um, cause Mommy doesn't want to crack the mirror? Give the wrong response here, and you could start making those mommies on "Toddlers in Tiaras" look reasonable. For little girls, there are some crucial self-esteem lessons learned at the feet of Mommy. Or rather, while their mommy tries to squeeze into a size whatever whilst examining her split ends and crows feet. But no pressure here!
"Because it's socially acceptable to cover your skin's blotchiness and dark under-eye circles with concealer, thereby giving onlookers the illusion that you are younger and healthier than you really are. It's all smoke and mirrors, baby." ? No.
"Because Mommy greatly enjoys staying up late on the weekends and this little tube of glop covers the evidence nicely." ? Don't give her any ideas, she's going to bed at 8:00, damn it.

Because Mommy works for a district that hires way too many pretty blonde 20-something girls who, lovely teachers though they are, make Mommy look and feel like a chunkier Crypt Keeper?

Hmmm, explaining make-up to a five year-old...
I don't wear much, really. In this department, you don't find many lower-maintenance girls than yours truly.
Honestly, I wore almost no make-up until I was twenty-two. Then I had to go for my solitary real world job interview, a big deal in my little life, so I wore a tiny bit of mascara and lipstick. That is all. However, I was twenty-two. I slept more, I slept later, and I had skin like a baby's ass. Nine  years and two of those babies later... let's just say it takes more than the time it takes one red light to change during my usual commute/makeover session for me to 'get pretty'.
This is not me. I would never drive and put on make-up at the same time. Never. 
Especially not on the bendy back roads I take to work.
I mean, at least I don't do mascara while the car's actually moving. That's just wreckless. Never. Really.

I told Miss M: "Because I think it helps me look more awake, and that makes me feel happy." And because I don't want to scare the little kids at school with good old zombie Mrs. D.
In other words, this ritual is for me. It is not so I'm good enough for the outside world. Cause I am. Bonus, I can look perky, whether I'm feeling it or not.
There. Self-esteem shaping moment saved.

Then Miss M accompanied me to the mall a while ago, where I discovered that a store I frequent is closing at the end of the month. I also discovered that, miraculously, I had a coupon in my wallet for said store - that was about to expire - at the end of the month. Serendipity?
Unfortunately, to put this coupon to the most practical use, I was going to have to embark on the most dreaded, torturous ritual of all womanhood:
No, not childbirth. Give me the epidural and I'd more readily do THAT again, rather than:

Bathing Suit Shopping.

I am horrendous at this process; it involves no less than 6 or 7 trips to the fitting room with 4 or 5 suits slung across my arm, per trip. It also involves much cursing; cursing at my body, my genetics, my love of all things bad for your hips, and sadly, myself in general. The woman in the next fitting room is probably glad she didn't bring her kid, let's put it that way.
However, with the ever-recording ears of Miss M along in the dressing room, I believe I made a commendable effort to present the process of selecting a bathing suit in as positive a light as possible. Not once did I curse, thankyouverymuch. 
I did say, "No. N-O. NoNoNoNO." a few times. But that was all, because she was there, watching mommy (and playing with her Rapunzel figurines on the bench). M was finding out how Mommy feels about her body... in a bathing suit. Sort of. She got the edited version. Ok, so I lied and cursed in my head, you happy?
I was suddenly and acutely aware of the negative self talk that bubbled so naturally to the surface in that situation - and that it would do her no good to hear mommy say "Oh my GOD I hate my effin' ______________(s)!" (Fill in the blank with whatever body part you like. Chances are, I hate it/them.) However, Miss M is solid, strong, and a little pudgy. Through no fault of her own already sort of has hips. (Cause she's my kid!) But she's five. She doesn't need to learn that hips can be a thing worthy of hate.
So we (I) got through the loveliness of bathing suit shopping under 45 minutes, definitely a new record. And although I came home with a suit my grandmother would probably love to borrow, I was satisfied with whatever self control I'd mustered in front of Miss M. And my dignity and self-esteem was intact. Mostly. Damn these designers, who the hell thinks horizontal stripes are a good idea for ANYBODY?
But OH the awful things it would have been all too easy to say about myself right there in front of my daughter! Toys (damn you, Barbie), the media, and social interaction with peers will be messing with her present rock-solid confidence soon enough.
I didn't want her leaving the mall with a seed of doubt planted in her mind about her _________(s).  Plus, I had a plain, well-covering - albeit,  a little lower-cut, whoohoo! - black suit in the bag. In other words: I've pretty much given up, but hey, you know what they say, "if ya got it...."
So I'll take it.  I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people - eh, whatever, people... let's get in the pool.

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