Physicality of a Lady

Earlier this weekend our school system had a PTO carnival, which we went to. It was great, lots of fun games, the children had a wonderful time. But since I was more or less just following my children and husband and my dad around, I spent a lot of time just people watching. And was really shocked by what I saw. I don’t spend much time around other women, especially other mothers. I don’t like leaving the house unless it’s to do something I like to do, and sitting in a restaurant or shopping aren’t high on my list of things I want to do (this would be different if we had any good restaurants around us…) but all of this means that I don’t really have an idea of what other mothers look like. I could go ahead and talk about how pudgy and worn and unstylish many woman are, but I think that’s a bit unfair to just judge someone point blank. However, what really got me was how pudgy and worn and unstylish most women looked compared to their HUSBANDS (or whoever that guy walking around with them was).

I’m sure a lot of this has to just do with technicalities…the husband may be working out of the house while the mother has to stay home with the kids, creating that worn look and the lack of fashion, women tend to gain more weight just in general, etc.etc. But I really feel like this has so much to do with how women perceive themselves, and their standards of beauty. Let me explain…Men rarely spend much time on themselves. They wash with plain soap, don’t use hair products or hair dyes, tend to dress in plain shirts and pants, wear comfortable shoes, and do more exercise based activities like mowing the lawn, playing ball with the kids. Let’s compare this to how woman spend their lives. We spend our lives from age 14 or so covering our faces in make up, dying blowing and styling our hair, shoving our bodies and feet into uncomfortable and tight clothing, and putting around the house cleaning, wiping faces and bottoms, until we can toss the kids outside to play ball with Dad while we watch TV or sit on the computer and relax. 
And as I watched all of these couples I saw how all of these things were true….how the wife has worn makeup and used products on her face and tanned for so long the texture of the skin has become stiff and she has to cover it with more makeup compared to her husbands smooth natural skin…how her movements have become so tired and worn because after a long day she’s still squeezing into tight pants and heels while her husband looks relaxed and happy in his shorts and sandals…how her weight gain is so much more noticeable because of her tight fashionable clothes while her husband’s extra weight gives him a distinguished air….
Now I know I’m talking in extreme generalities here, and there are a lot of factors that combine to make women feel less pretty as they age, while men tend to get more attractive. My point is more that in lots of ways, we women make ourselves look more unattractive because we spend too much time in the first place trying to fool people into thinking we’re something we’re not. It’s like that old joke that says when a girl never wears makeup is ok, and when another girl wears makeup everyday she’s ok. What we see everyday is always going to just be ok, because it’s what we’re used to. Now when they change for one day, the girl who never wears makeup puts some on and becomes gorgeous, while the girl who always wears makeup doesn’t, and looks like she just got hit by a train. This is why guys stay attractive as they age…they don’t try to keep up a false front of who they are from the beginning. While that makeup and hair dye and clothes look good on a twenty year old, by the time you’re forty and have been doing it for years, youre going to look frazzeled and worn, no matter how much money you spend on products. You think those bunions are just “your natural feet” or do you think squeezing them into shoes that don’t fit but are really cute might’ve had something to do with it?
And that’s really what all of this is about anyway. Natural beauty enhancers are free, but companies want women to feel unhappy so they can sell us products. We spend our lives slapping on their makeup and ruining our skin so they can later sell us a product to fix all of those skin problems. They sell us on hair dyes and then give us “repairing shampoos” (which by the way don’t repair anything. Split ends can’t be repaired, they can simply be greased down so they’re less noticeable). And then we look at our husbands who don’t have to wear spanx or get botox and say “why?? that’s so unfair!” 
While I was at the carnival I also saw a woman who was absolutely gorgeous. She looked like she was in her thirties, and was carrying a baby in a sling. She was not a small woman, but she had these wonderful greek like body proportions. I mean, her legs were long, but not thin, her chest was small and her belly a little pooky, but just the way she carried herself, her light breezy clothes, her clean make up free face and loose mousy brown hair…I mean, she was beautiful. Would she look exceptional to many other people or make the cover of US? Probably not. But would she still look that beautiful when she’s seventy? Probably. And that’s really the thing that gets me. Beauty isn’t about your weight, or your complexion, or your clothes….people convince us it is because then they can make money off our insecurities. And they continue to make more and more as we age because we fall further and further from an impossible standard of beauty.
If you read any book from the Victorian period or earlier you can see how different people’s ideas of beauty were. Not just that standards of weight or hair color changed, but people’s ideas of what made a woman beautiful were different. Many more personality characteristics were included, things like posture and “carriage” made a woman beautiful, how she treated others made her beautiful, simple beauty care like soft skin or smelling clean made her beautiful. I know the Victorian period isn’t something we’re looking to emulate completely. The Cult of True Womanhood is very unfair to lots of women and praise God corsets went out of fashion. But that doesn’t mean that girls can’t pulll their backs straight, or use natural beauty products like sleep to get rid of those crows feet. It doesn’t mean  you can’t conscientiously put a small smile on your face and relax your eyebrows so you’re not winkled and scowling. It doesn’t mean you can’t dress to fit your body style. It doesn’t mean you can’t take walks to help get your legs lean, or pick up piano or some other activity to keep your hands supple and pretty. There are people of all sizes, shapes, and skin complexions that stay beautiful into their twilight years, because beauty isn’t about wearing the right products or being the right size, it’s something that lives inside of you. Ultimately, that is why I think those husbands all look better than their wives. Because they haven’t spend years trying to be something they’re not…they just are themselves, and they know their wife loves them as themselves. Women feel like we don’t have that luxury, but we do! If we could only take who we are and make ourselves the best we could be instead of trying to be just like… fill in the blank. 
I have this great book  that is all about natural beauty care, and I don’t mean natural like hippie organic natural, but just as opposed to store bought chemical beauty care. Most of the recommended things are so easy and simply to do, even for a busy momma.

  •  Taking easy walks a few times a week (not that speed walking, but just easy smell the roses kind of walk). Exercise isn’t always about burning calories but about clearing your mind. 
  • SLEEP. There is nothing that can make you sag faster than being tired. Start thinking of sleeping as “me time,” just like painting your nails or any other kind of pampering.
  • Teach yourself proper posture with your back straight, shoulders back, chin up. I always used to practice walking around with a book on my head just because I thought it was fun. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a little old lady who told me I had wonderful posture unlike most girls who just slouch! ha! It’s funny but if you actually look at most people who are considered “beautiful” they have fantastic posture. It’s one of those things that people don’t talk about but can make you almost instantly prettier.
  • One of the lesser thought about beauty factors are women’s hands. We’re used to thinking about our nails, but making the shape and texture of your hands pleasant is important too. Make sure to wear gloves in the winter, and dry your hands thoroughly after putting them in water. Also use gloves when you clean, and lotion them (but not too much. Greasy hands can be gross too). And most importantly, keep them active. I mentioned piano playing earlier, but typing is great to keep them in shape too, or really any kind of fine motor skill work.
  • Don’t use products to close your pores. Steam your face instead. Just pour a few cups of boiling water into a bowl and lean over it, covering your head and the bowl with a towel. Sit there for up to twenty minutes
  • Use lemon peelings and salt mixed in a lotion to exfoliate your face, or sand mixed with lotion for your body.
  • Take a milk bath. I started doing this in winter a year or two ago, just pouring in a cup or two of milk or buttermilk into a tub and soaking for awhile, and my husband noticed (without me prompting) a different in how soft my skin was.
  • Lotion is good, but it’s more important to not dry your skin out in the first place. That means take care to bundle up in the winter, dry thoroughly after getting wet, and avoid chemicals in cleaning products and skin products.
  • Use fragrance free products, including lotions, and use eau de toilette or essential oils to smell nice. I have a small collection of perfumes but I usually just save them for special occasions. Just like wearing makeup, it is better for people to smell the natural you and occasionally nicer, rather than always wear perfume and one day forget and have people think your smell weird.That doesn’t mean that you have to smell weird on a regular basis. Just being clean and having a light scent is enough. When I stopped wearing perfumed deoderant, and allowed myself to actually *gasp!** sweat a little my husband actually began complementing me on how good I smelled (again, no prompting from me!). This is actually scientifically proved…by allowing your “natural smells” to exist you become more attractive because of your pheromones. 
  • Put some flowers in you bra and spend time outside to keep up a light scent. 
  • Line dry your clothing. Not only is this better for your material, like when you sit outside your take on the smells of outdoors, and not in an unpleasant way, but rather like sunshine.There is a definite difference between my husbands summer and winter smells because in the summer he always smells like fresh air and sunshine.Now, how could that not make other people happy, smelling sunshine?
  • Get some sun, but don’t tan. By now we all know how terrible tanning is for your skin. Not only could it possibly give you cancer, but it make the texture of your skin terrible too. Plus, peeling skin is NOT attractive on anyone. Dappled sunshine is the right amount to give you rosy cheeks without burning. You don’t have to carry a parasol with your every where…just wear a hat!
  • Speaking of rosy cheeks…try lightly pinching them instead of putting on blush.
  • Want to ditch your mascara? Put a teeny tiny amount of olive oil on them instead and use an eyebrow comb to brush them out. They’ll stay dark and shiny all day.
  • Take a bath more often. Keeping your skin well hydrated is something many people neglect to do. If you do take showers, keep the water as cool as you can take it. Hot water is bad for your skin and your hair. 
  • If you enjoy swimming try doing it in a pond or lake or creek instead of a swimming pool. While chlorine is terrible for your all around (there’s a reason it smells like bleach…) many of the minerals in natural waters are really good for you. Not to mention swimming is one of the best exercises you can do.
  • Speaking of exercise, is you don’t like walking or running or working out, buy a bike and start biking. It is really great exercise, is much cooler than running since you can work up a breeze. Plus, it’s something you can easily do with children. No more excuses now! haha
  • And probably the most important beauty tip is to drink water.  Not only will your skin become clearer and look fresh, but you’ll help suppress your appetite to keep from overeating.Many people actually eat because they are thirsty, and there is nothing to make you look and feel terrible faster than being dehydrated. I get terrible headaches if I don’t drink enough water. If drinking plain water is impossible for you then herbal tea or lemon water is really your only substitute. Although all other drinks contain water, the amount of sugars and caffine in them can actually increase your dehydration.
There you go. Being healthy and beautiful can be easily achieved just by taking care of yourself. Please all women stop feeling like you need to be dolled up and super skinny and dressed fancy schmancy to please your husband or others. Take care of yourself, be proud of yourself, and be kind to others. That’s all it takes.

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