I grew up in a family mostly made up of women. There were all kinds and conditions of women: married, widowed, divorced and forever single; pianists, ballerinas, full-time moms. Biological mothers, adoptive mothers, childless women.
My female reference is extremely comprehensive, but in one thing all of them were/are equal: in self-care, in caring for their image, in preserving their self-esteem, regardless of the situation. I remember visiting my sick grandmother in the hospital, and she had a mirror in one hand and a lipstick in the other. We might call it vanity, but it has always been conveyed to me as much more than that. Taking care of one’s external self is the first step to doing things well and having a better day.
Over the past few years, and especially due to the power (and advantages and disadvantages) of technology, media and social networks, the weight of image has increased in how we assess people. There is the cult of beauty, of the immaculate and of perfection, and everything that deviates from it seems little, sad or wrong. I think it is important to counteract this confusion of concepts, and here I return to my personal experience.
As I mentioned above, I was always brought up to take care of myself, to present myself at my best whenever possible, and it is something that has become important to me, but that doesn’t mean it defines my value. Me, and you, and that “perfect” lady from TV, we are so much more than that.
Today, here I leave my manifest:
– I may look flawless when I’m dropping my kids off at school, but I also spend my mornings shouting at them to get dressed and eat breakfast, and then I feel miserable about that;
– My shoes always match my purse, but I also have cellulite in the hips and not so pretty varicose veins in my legs;
– I rarely go to the supermarket wearing a track suit, but I also have meltdowns in the parking lot because I am too tired of not sleeping yet another night;
– You never see me in slippers on the street, but my feet also hurt from the multiple hours I iron and vacuum;
– I always leave home with earrings, but I also have crises in my marriage;
– My Instagram has a lot of beautiful images, but I also miss my parents’ hugs;
I take care of myself because for me it is essential to feel good, it makes me feel more confident and able for whatever life hands me, because it is an act of love that I practice for myself. But my reality is much more than the blush that gives my sleepy pale face some health.
We live in the age of screens, filters, and Photoshop and that can be great if we never forget not to compare ourselves, not to push ourselves to that perfect image, not to complain because we don’t have that perfect life. All we see is just our perception, because there is a whole reality that always stands behind each image.
So please, the next time you see me at the grocery store looking like I always have it all together, because I may be looking good at 8:00 AM, and then you start comparing yourself, stop. Don’t do that. We are all in this together. We are all doing the best we can, in a tuxedo or in a track suit. Trying to look good is just my modus operandi, my family women’s legacy, and the extra mile I try to push myself to every day.
No matter the image being conveyed, let’s always remember to stand for the reality.