All Dressed Up

After Bible study this morning, some of the other Mamas were teasing me about being so dressed up.  This wasn’t the first time someone has mentioned it.  In fact, when we lived in Arkansas, one of our Sunday school (sorry, Life Group) teachers used to call me Barbie.  Another Arkansas friend teased me about being a debutante.  (I wasn’t one, by the way.  They didn’t have that where I grew up, and I assure you, I would not have participated back then anyway.)

It doesn’t bother me.  In fact, I kind of like it.  I just find it ironic and kind of strange.

In case you’re wondering, today I’m wearing a $12 striped cotton dress and $7 green cardigan, both from Old Navy, and some $17 shoes that I found at Ross.  I’m hardly a clothes horse or fashion plate.  Some days I do wear jeans and a t-shirt, but in answer to my friend’s question, yes I do usually dress this way around the house.   One of the things I love most about Summer is getting to wear dresses with flow-y skirts.  They do a much better job of disguising my baby-bearing and life-enjoying belly than pants or shorts.  Plus – call me old-fashioned if you will – I like dressing like a girl.

Here’s the irony: growing up, I wanted to be one of the Cute Girls, but I was not one of them.  I envied the cheerleaders and those who participated in the annual Beauty Walk.  I was always at least a few months behind the trends (if I ever did participate), and I had more than my share of Awkward Years.  Severe acne began in 3rd grade, by 5th grade I was the second-tallest person in my class, junior high involved years of braces, and let’s just say shirts buttoned far too easily until I became pregnant with my oldest at the age of 31.  Also, years of being taught (both explicitly and implicitly) that “good girls” showed very little skin resulted in me wearing clothing that was not at all form-fitting.  Nobody looks good in shapeless dresses that come down to the ankles.

I’m still not following the trends.  Mommy-wear is supposed to be yoga pants and tank tops.  We’re not supposed to find time to shower for days on end.  Make-up is supposed to be reserved for special occasions.  I’m still avoiding the trends, but this time it’s by choice.

You know what happens when I spend days, weeks, or even months looking frumpy (and yes, I’ve done it)?  I feel terrible about myself.  My productivity plummets.  My temper flares, and everyone around me suffers.

I’m sure there are many women who are unaffected by the clothes they wear.  There may even be some who feel better about themselves in sweatpants.  I’m just not one of them.

Here’s another reason I dress the way that I do: my husband likes it.  One day several months ago, in a moment when he was more honest than he intended to be, he blurted out said, “I sometimes miss you going to work every day because you dressed better.”  Ouch.  He was right.  In fact, I sometimes missed that about working, too.  It can be hard to justify getting dressed completely (with hair and make-up done) when I’m not planning to leave the house that day.  I also didn’t want to buy more clothes in a size that made me unhappy.  But my frumpiness wasn’t helping anything.  So I went online and bought a few dresses.  My husband would likely say it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.  When I feel better about myself, I am a better wife and a better mother.  He loved me just as much when I was frumpy, and he’s never even once made me feel badly about myself, but we are both happier when I feel better about my appearance.

The first time I let frumpiness take over was after my son was born.  One day it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks when I looked in the mirror.  I was carrying around way too much post-baby weight (he was 11 months old), and I was dressed like I didn’t care at all.  The next day, I joined Weight Watchers.  Over the course of 8 months, I lost the baby weight and then some, joined a gym, and got into the best shape of my life.  But before I had lost more than a couple of pounds, I started dressing better.  I think feeling better about myself led to taking better care of myself which led again to feeling better about myself.  I’m not sure I would have been as successful with the weight loss if I had maintained my frumpy appearance, waiting until I had gotten to my desired size.

I probably need to return to WW or something similar, as much of that weight has returned.  But I already feel better about what I see in the mirror.  My husband smiles when he gets home, and my kids no longer ask me if it’s Sunday when they see me wearing nice clothes.  I’m finally a Cute Girl!