Updated: Jul 11
The clothes we choose, how we wear our hair, if we do or don’t wear make up, is a statement of how we want to be perceived in the world. Even subconsciously. Even picking up that specific top for no other reason than it’s the closest one to you, even then you are choosing it for how you want to be seen and how you see yourself.
Not considering how we look is how we feel about ourselves.
As a mother I was ‘too busy’ to take time to dress well. I washed my hair infrequently, putting it in a ponytail. My clothes hung on me and I chose them based on what was clean and easily available. I wasn't superficial enough to worry about my appearance. That was for vain people, people who didn't have important matters to worry over. My priority was my children and surely that made me a better mother?
The truth was, the lack of everyday care and interest in my appearance was feeding into the stories of not being good enough. Of not being able to cope with being a mum AND looking after myself.
It fed into the stories of not being worthy to look good because I was failing everywhere else. Of course for special occasions I made the effort. But day-to-day I wasn’t taking care of my body and appearance the way I should have and needed to.
I wasn’t creating an image for me to look at in the mirror to be proud of. I wasn’t interested in being seen.
I remember one instance when some mums at a home education group had commented on how nice my hair looked. ‘Thank you, it’s because I washed and blow dried it.’
I didn’t want to stand out.
I learnt at high school to hunch over. I had good posture growing up and then when I was bullied at high school for ‘sticking my chest out’, I learnt to stoop. To avoid the torment I lessened who I was. Tried to become invisible. Non-threatening. Women were dangerous. Jealous. To stay safe meant not being seen.
I have noticed that since I started my self-healing journey, the way I walk has changed. The way I hold myself. I’m buying clothes because I like them. Because I enjoy wearing them - not so much because they are fashionable and I feel the need to prove myself to others, but because when I look in the mirror I feel good about myself. I enjoy wearing things that look a little bit different, playing around with things. I also enjoy wearing things that I was taught growing up that I shouldn't wear, for example, a bra visibly seen under a top. I don't use bras but a black bralette under a pastel top has been worn, because, well, why not?
I bought new underwear as well. Because what touches my skin also has an effect on how I feel about myself. (Although I now enjoy going braless. Thanks to lockdown I got so used to not having a bra that I don’t wear them anymore.)
Self-care regarding your appearance isn’t necessarily about wearing make up, high heels and fancy clothes, although you can do if that’s what makes you feel good. It isn’t about chasing vanity and worrying over your appearance for fear of judgement. (Also since lockdown I have stopped dying my hair. I’m currently embracing the grey. That might change, it might not, but right now I’m enjoying it.)
It’s about looking in the mirror and enjoying seeing the person looking back at you. That she is worthy to dress how she wants to. That she looks good. That you feel happy to see that smile and that person looking back at you.
Self-care is also taking care of your appearance.
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at email@example.com.