Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Not To Wear would have a FIELD day with me

Confession time: I watch a lot of TLC.

I finally caught up on shows that I'd recorded over...ummm...the past year. (Seriously, I finished last season of Mad Men yesterday.  In my defense, when that season was airing I had a newborn who was waking up overnight and a toddler who only napped when the baby was awake.  Then I got busy. And that's a show you actually have to pay attention to. Shut up. I'm caught up now).

Now that this massive project is behind me, I can spend naptime watching mindless "reality" television while I read maganzines mess around on Facebook clean, cook and do laundry.

Since TLC definitely fits the mindless mold, and there always seems to be something I can half watch while multitasking, I tend to stick with that.  And one of the shows I end up watching frequently is one of their long running ones: What Not to Wear. 

In case you're unfamiliar, they ambush some woman who has been "set up" by her family/friends/coworkers who is just a style mess.  Usually this woman either isn't dressing "age appropriate", is way too "out there"...or is dressing like a "mom".

Yeah, guess which one I identify with.

The implication is usually that once these women become moms, they lose the ability - or the desire - to really take care of themselves. Instead of wearing cute little swingy dresses or trousers with fitted jackets and cute shoes to Gymboree and the grocery store, they're wearing yoga pants and t-shirts, sometimes with a hoodie and always with sneakers. Instead of styled hair and make-up, they're rocking the ponytail. They don't even make time to shower daily!

Hmmm....something in this sounds familiar.

They have her model a few outfits in her current wardrobe, which are usually old and ill fitting. She always has a few pieces of maternity clothes still in her rotation. Then they show her some mannequins decked out with nice clothes and accessories.

Then they purge her wardrobe, poking fun as they go along, and give her $5000 to shop with. Her first day is usually a disaster, so the hosts swoop in for day 2 and put together cute outfits, talking to her about why she lets herself look like crap, providing retail therapy in the truest sense of the word.

Then they complete the makeover, and there's this big reveal and people are blown away by how amazing and thin and young she looks.

I'm not going to bash the show. If someone offered to fund a full on makeover for me, I would have no shame about it.  I mean, I don't know that I'd like the "being on a reality show" part. But I'd like the "we're going to have two stylists re-do your wardrobe" part.

But I was thinking about it more recently when I replaced Madison's wardrobe. Every day, I dress my girls in cute outfits. I make sure Madison's hair is done every morning. I braid it, do fancy piggies, and experiment with little styles. Even Reagan has some little paintbrushes now. Their socks are cute and coordinated.

Then I throw on a t-shirt, jeans or yoga pants, and sneakers. Want to guess how I do my hair?

Whenever I complain, Adam will always tell me that I can definitely update my wardrobe. I can make sure my clothes fit, I can make sure I can get my haircut. Because he works from home, he can keep an eye on the girls for fifteen minutes if I want to shower. It's not that I don't have the ability to put effort into my appearance. I know that.

But when it comes down to it, if I'm going to spend money, for some reason, I want to spend it on the girls. They tend to need more, and they look adorable. If I get time to shower, I don't want to take advantage of my situation by spending time blowing out my hair ... so I can put it back in a ponytail anyway while we're at the playground.

Thinking about it, the stylists aren't wrong when they start their therapy and gently point out that the mom has completely ignored herself so focus on her family. I'm definitely not the only mom who is totally putting her needs on the back burner. No one is making me, but it's almost instinctual. Money and effort on mom's appearance = wasteful; money on girls = worth it. I'd rather spend money on dance class, put away for college, get them what they need....and a few wants as well.

Like everything, I'm sure there's a balance, and I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

Like everything, realizing you have a problem is the first step.

And like everything, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

Maybe in a few years, I'll get there. But if I don't, I'll know that my family was worth it.

And don't you dare set me up for that show!
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