Monday, March 17, 2014

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Thoughts and Strategies on Beauty and Balance

About twice a year I get a case of the uglies. You know, I have nothing to wear, What's up with this hair of mine, Maybe Botox isn't such a bad idea, I need a need skin regimen, E-x-e-r-c--i-s-e!

Etcetera, etcetera.

So it was when I happened upon a discussion about Lenten sacrifices related to fashion. In a combox over on Cari Donaldson's blog, I mentioned that I'd love to take part in a discussion about how to balance life and fitness and beauty, how to step it all up a notch appearance-wise, how to put your best foot forward without breaking the bank or becoming self-absorbed. Cari suggested I do a link-up.

So here it is -- Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Thoughts and Strategies on Beauty and Balance.

My friend Amy writes at She's a wife and mother to five, including a sweet newborn redhead named Felicity. She writes:
When I was in college, I had a roommate who was into fitness. I asked her one day why she exercised so much. Her response was that she thought of her body as a temple of the Holy Spirit on loan to her from God . . . From that day forward I wanted to approach outward beauty the same way -- not as an act of vanity, but as a good steward.
Amy goes on to talk about how her approach to exercise and beauty has evolved over the years. Read the rest of her thoughts here.

I was chatting with a friend who mentioned she knows women who give up make-up for Lent and other women who would consider it a Lenten sacrifice to put on the stuff everyday. So true that. We are so different.

My friend Vickie has lovely, chin length gray hair. Her sense of fashion is put together, but simple and sporty. She always, always looks nice. She's a few years older than I am and aging exactly the way I hope to age.

She's a beautiful woman.

My neighbor Sherry loves color and sparkle. Everything from her clothes to her home decor, from her purse to the wreath on her door is lively and bold. She wouldn't step out the door without her face on. She's always, always put together.

She, too, is a beautiful woman.

We're all so different, so very different.
Ainlsey's first attempt at eye make-up.

There's no single correct approach to the complicated topics of beauty, fashion, fitness, make-up. I chaff when I stumble upon posts that seem to have heard from on high how Real Christians should dress or what Good Catholics should think about make-up.

(In fact, I don't just chaff; I positively recoil.)

For one thing, this sort of one-size-fits-all thinking ignores that we are much like my freinds Vickie and Sherry -- that is uniquely made, fashioned one-of-a-kind by God who obviously prefers variety.

Second, there's a world out there desperate to hear the good news that God loves them, but we're preoccupied drafting commandments eleven through seventy-two and quibbling over hemlines.

Chaff, recoil.

But I digress . . .

Many of the women I talk to are much like me and see no contradiction between loving God and looking nice. It's the logistics that trip many of us up. How do you pull it off? How do you fit in exercise when your To Do List is daunting? How do you put on make-up when your forty-something eyes don't cooperate? How do you develop a personal style without over-spending? When your shape seems to be ever-shifting? When you have a newborn? When you've just started a new job?

Obviously, I don't think we should make idols out of our personal appearance. Our culture certainly glorifies the young and supple, encouraging us all to chase after some elusive Fountain of Youth to make us look perpetually nineteen.

No, I don't want to look nineteen. But I do want to look nice. And it's not always easy.

I welcome your thoughts on the matter. If you have a blog, email the link and I'll add it above. Include a two sentence bio as well. For everyone else, join the discussion through the comments.


Mary @ Better Than Eden said...

Ha, Ainsley's attempts look exactly like mine! I'm not too good on this topic, I'm afraid. I think I'm okay at making eating healthy a priority but as far as my appearance, it usually always takes a backseat to the more practical. I think I do an okay job at looking presentable but I just have never been very good at anything beyond that. You'd think coming from a family of six girls ONE of us would know how to do hair and makeup but alas, none of us are very gifted at that. I would love to have someone come and give me a makeover and redo my wardrobe! I hope to hear other people's responses!

Kris said...

I am pretty focused on eating healthy, for a lot of the reasons you listed. I feel like I SHOULD take care of this body that God gave me. I have a harder time fitting in exercise - part laziness and part really finding the time. I would love to figure out a way to put more focus on that. I do generally look presentable, but I abhor shopping, so sometimes I have to force myself to replace worn things or upgrade some basics. But I do enjoy looking nice, and I try and make sure that when my husband arrives home at the end of the day, I'm greeting him in something other than raggedy clothes and an un-showered body!

Tim Dolin said...

Mary, I always say there's a "hair gene" and it somehow bypassed me. I liked several points that my friend Amy made.

1. OUr bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. When I look at how my Mom has suffered with osteoporosis, I am much more motivated to take care of mine.

2. Amy mentioned that she spends an extra ten minutes pulling herself together. That seems reasonable to me. I went to a hair saloon, an expensive hair saloon, to fix a butchered haircut I got at a cheap hair saloon. After fixing the cut, the stylist spent forty-five minutes styling my hair. It looked amazing, but, with the exception of my wedding day, I have never spent forty-five minutes on my hair. Just not happening. I like hearing strategies that have some chance of success.

Kelly Dolin said...

So the above comment was from Kelly, not Tim. But I should point out that Tim has never spent forty-five minutes on his hair either.

Kelly Dolin said...

Kris, You make a good point on just making a simple effort -- running a brush through the hair, putting on a little lipstick, maybe blitzing the house. I know that I feel better when I look better and when the house looks better.

On the healthy eating, i would love to hear suggestions on eating better during sport seasons when everything seems to in Styrofoam or in a big, square box. It is real a challenge to eat well when the older kids have events right around the dinner hour.

Kris said...

Kelly -- I struggle with the sports issue also. My biggest friend, especially during the winter, is the crockpot. I also have been making a huge effort to plan ahead - I'll make something much earlier in the day so that people can grab from the pot or the fridge. In the summer, for swim meets, I bring a picnic and try to make it interesting. I do have to admit, though, that I really got motivated this past year because we have two in Catholic high school and the tuition is really pinching our budget. So I've been forced to NOT rely on eating out and making something at home. I've also relaxed my attitude about always eating together. As long as we are getting multiple meals a week at the same time (sometimes that means breakfast instead of dinner) then it's okay if we're all catching food at different times. I just make sure I have things available.