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Keeping Up Appearances
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. But for the last two weeks I've been touring around Alberta for Girls Night Out, and trying to get my book manuscript in, so I haven't had time to write anything brilliant! Here's one I hope squeaked through without anyone thinking it was too lame. It was based on a conversation I had in a van with some guys on the road crew. See what you think of this one, compared to my usual columns!

Today I was sucked into a heated discussion with a guy about appreciating feminine beauty. “You know what really bugs me?” he said. “I hate it when men say ‘my wife looks prettier today than she did the day I met her.’ He met her at 22! Now she’s got a walker!” Sure, he acknowledges, her husband may love her more, but that doesn’t mean she’s prettier.

Then I asked that very dangerous question, “when do women stop getting prettier?”, to which he refused to give a straight answer, which was probably in his best interests since at the time he was talking to a woman now past forty. I wanted some assurance that I still had some good years left.

Despite what that guy thinks (and what does he know, anyway, since he’s only a guy), I don’t think I’m completely over the hill yet. A study of 2000 British men and women released last summer found that women are at their most beautiful not at 18 or 21 but at 31. It takes a while for women to find their stride, where they’re comfortable enough in their bodies, and they’re not trying to be skanky anymore.

I suppose theoretically 31 may be the perfect age, though it definitely wasn’t for me. I think I’ll look better at 41 (which is now only a few short months away) than I did at 31. At least I sure hope I do, since the photo we have of me at 31 up on the wall causes my kids to burst into laughter every time they pass it by. Sometimes they deliberately take their friends upstairs to gaze at it: “See, my mom was hideous once!”

Beauty has much less to do with age and much more to do with stage in life. When you’re young and insecure, you may have a nice figure, but you’re not necessarily dressing it the best. Then when children come, everyone is so harried that beauty comes last on the list. But when the kids get older, and know how to tie their own shoes and don’t rush into the bathroom to bother you, you finally have time to try to look attractive again. Most of my friends looked better when the youngest child left toddlerhood than when the first child was born.

Perhaps it’s mean to talk of women and beauty, though, since I’m only adding to the pressure too many feel to keep up appearances. We react to this pressure in different ways: we either put too much emphasis on beauty, starving and bankrupting ourselves to live up to Barbie’s 44-12-22 standard, or we just give up and let ourselves go.

Personally, I wasn’t happy when I let myself go. During those years I would have told you I was too busy to find earrings or apply makeup or do something as mundane as brushing my hair, but looking back, I think I could have taken the time. And it would have helped me to feel more confident as a woman. Yes, beauty is fleeting, and yes, it should never be the standard for a woman’s worth. But there is something innate about women that makes us want to be beautiful. And there is something innate about men that wants to appreciate it. And so I will continue to explore all the different hair colours Revlon has to offer, and have fun at Mary Kay parties, and buy pampering, scented bubble bath, because I like looking my best. After all, I want my husband to look at me and still think he’s the luckiest man in the world—even when I’m in a walker.

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At 12:19 PM , Blogger Mrs.C said…

The older we ladies get, I think the subject of keeping up appearances increases in our thought life.

It hasn't been until my late 30's- early 40's that I finally feel like I've got it all together. As I look back over years of pictures, and see there were times when I just didn't think things through too much, I wonder how on earth my husband held his head up in public when walking w/ me.ha My clothing choices, the bad perms, bad haircuts, ugh, that he had to live with. OH, and not to mention the ugly glasses that were in style in the late 80's, early 90's, big, gawky ugly glasses.

So, I think it's safe to say, most women beautify with time. It does take some thought, and time to find what works best for yourself, clothing, colors, haircuts. And we do it all for our guys, right? Some gals are probably lucky enough to learn all that in their teen years...think about it, if they reach their peak then, I'm pretty certain it's all downhill for them the rest of their days, ha! JUST KIDDING!

I like thinking that hopefully I'm improving with age, in all areas of my life, not just my appearance. And I do find that I'm not so embarassed by more recent photos like I am by the ones taken when my gals were toddlers. They were the adorable ones then, guess I poured everything into them, w/ no time to think of what I looked like. :o)


At 8:58 AM , Anonymous Jodie said…

This is so funny. I'm 34 and am finally revamping my wordrobe! Just two days ago I pulled out clothes I've had since before I met my husband, nearly 15 years ago! He can't understand what's going on! He's pulling clothes back out of my throw away pile! I guess I'll have to sneak them out of the house. I do still have a baby and a toddler but now that my eldest girls are nearly 11 and 12 and I'm 34 I'm starting to think, if I don't start looking nice now it will be too late.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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