No, that's not me (obviously) that's Marilyn, but honestly, I used to feel like my own version of bombshell, inside.
I was a high school teacher, and every Monday through Friday I would get up with plenty of time to dress in stylish clothes that made me feel beautiful, immaculately make up my face in colors and products I loved, and carefully arrange my salon cut and colored hair. Although quite average in appearance, I relished the daily experience of "getting ready for my day" because, as a married lady who worked with children, I was not dressing for others: I dressed for myself. I was eccentric, I was quirky, and I loved to play in all the tools that a woman has at her fingertips to craft her daily image.
On the weekends I loved ballet and hiking and tennis and long bubble baths and writing poetry and massages, and I did all of it zealously, entirely for my own joie de vivre.
Fast forward to see me four years ago, now the stay at home mother of a small child. I may have also been a writer (three-times published) and a doll maker, but honestly there were many days that I didn't leave the house at all, and often the most I got out was for play dates, trips to the park, and grocery shopping. My hair hadn't been cut or colored in (ahem) months (and months)...I wore absolutely NO makeup...I traded between two pairs of flat, comfortable shoes (one for cold weather, one for warm)...and I basically lived in yoga pats, tshirts, and maxi dresses.
Sure, when I had a special event or a date with my husband, I still dressed up to the nines, but honestly those moments were few and far between.
As every mother of a small child knows, you tend to lose your own identity in the consuming task of raising little human beings. All the photos I have of this time period are me hiding behind my daughter, large sunglasses, huge clothes, and bandanas, and I never gave it a second thought:
Totally and completely worth it, but there comes the day when every mother eventually confronts herself in the mirror and says some version of, "What happened? Where did I go?" It might be returning to the work force, or the first day of preschool, or the first day of college, but eventually we all have to redefine ourselves within the context of being "mother".
Waldorf dolls began my own journey of re-discovering myself. At first, I simply admired them as a precious work of art (initially for my children, of course, never myself--HAH!)--but my own artistic aesthetic had been sadly absent, so this was a good start. As I undertook developing my own doll-making craft, I found delight once again in "beautifying" something other than my own home for the family. Now I immersed myself in all the beautiful aspects of creating a doll--from moulding a lovely face and choosing facial colors and expressions, to enjoying the textures and colors of hand spun art yarn hair, to bringing together magical outfits and themes. I mean, how many of us would love to look ethereal like this:
or strong like this:
or magical like this?
(depending upon your own doll aesthetic.)
Then one fateful day my husband took a photo of me holding one of my charming dolls, and I went into shock when I looked at it. I looked, well, AWFUL next to her: hair that needed to be cut (and colored), skin that seemed older and frankly exhausted, ill-fitting shirt and bra with too many stains (that I didn't really like anyway). What in the world? Who WAS this person next to that adorable doll?
I began to make excuses to myself, of course: I looked so wan and tired because I hadn't slept in, well, YEARS, and I was waiting for when I had time to put on makeup to go to the store to find the right moisturizer for those dark circles under my eyes. My clothes looked atrocious because I was waiting for when my kids would be old enough to stop messing up my clothes, so why go shopping and buy more nice clothes that would either get messed up or I'd never wear? And I can't order clothes off the internet, they never fit and the colors are always different from how they look anyway (plus I was waiting to lose the baby weight, of course). Although I'd always preferred myself in short, mod hair, long hair was more sensible for a mom, because who has time to style and get it cut regularly? I'd wait until...
I was living in a perptual state of waiting.
I was nothing like my dolls, I was nothing like the bombshell of my youth. I was fast becoming the woman who is only noticed as a place holder in line, as a person who is in your way.
I decided right then and there to stop waiting and rediscover what I loved about myself, rather than simply exercise my capacity to love others. I needed to regain my inner doll.
First step: I told my husband he was babysitting, and I got my hair cut short and bleached blonde (my own version of art yarn). Now, to play dolly dress up. I threw out all the clothes I hated or didn't fit well, and swore to only wear the clothes I loved and felt pretty in--like dresses and corsets and petticoats. The wardobe change took a few months, but I went from the first photo to the second photo (I lost a bit of weight, but not much...which goes to show what the right hair cut and outfit can do for a gal). Notice my daughter stands next to me now, rather than in front of me:
New hair and clothes that I loved were a start, but not nearly enough. Next, I had to stop daily living in an in between "waiting" pattern. I returned to the daily "getting myself ready" ritual every morning. Don't you find yourself changing your doll's clothes or hair style just for the fun of it? For me, this included daily moisturizing, styling my hair, a few items of makeup (some days just mascara and lipstick, but oh what a difference that makes!), and clothes, shoes and accessories I enjoyed wearing, even if no one would see them but me. One day, this was bright red lipstick. Another day, it was candy cotton pink hair and ridiculously long dangling earrings:
I put the following photo of Marliyn Monroe on my desktop: I think she looks lovely in BOTH photos, but it reminded me that I was creating my own image every morning, and helped me choose consciously what that image would be every day.
This is me today: blue pixie hair, scarf I love, designer leather flats that feel and look divine, and purple lipstick with the topaz studs my husband gave me on our last wedding anniversary. Will anyone be seeing me besides my family? No. My day consists of doing school work with my youngest, working on my current writing project, making doll legs, doing yoga, and writing this blog post. But how do I feel about it?
I feel like myself, like a bombshell of a doll...and what a glorious way it is to feel.
Blessings to you and your own journey...
Once Upon A Doll