I am not a pretty girl. Never have been. (There are a ton of pictures on Facebook from my family vacation that will attest to this fact, but if you are my friend and you are judging, let me just say that if you had my husband, and he was making you do the things he was making us all do, you would look similar.) I've always been "cute" or "fun" or "smart" or had someone comment on my eyes or my skin or my hair. Never the total package. I'm the Jessie Spano to the rest of the world's collective Kelly Kapowski. And I'm ok with that. I'm never going to be gorgeous, just as I'm never going to be (consistently) a size 2 and I'm never going to learn Chinese and I'm never going to be an Olympic gymnast.
But I do fix up pretty well. It has taken me 28 long years, but I've started to get the hang of looking "pulled together." I can put together an outfit, I know how many accessories are too many, what kind of cuts flatter my figure, where to buy my clothes. I know that my hair looks best when hot rollered or pulled stick, stick straight, and that a bit of Smashbox Lip Gloss in Radiant at 2:00 p.m. (combined with a Diet Coke from McDonald's) will make me look more awake. Yes, these are things that I've worked on over the course of years. But they are also the kind of things that I take pride in. It's my "thing." If you come to my house, you will not find designer home furnishings, and I do not drive a fancy, or even nice, car. But I have no debt (other than no-good, very-bad, awful student loans) and I look nice on a day to day basis. Those are my goals, and I'm happy with them.
Looking pulled together, however, is not a goal of lots of those around me here in my rural area. You don't know how totally REFRESHING it was to be in DC last week and see people everyday on the train, at a museum, at a restaurant, who had obviously taken pride in what they put on that morning. Matt and I both noticed it. I surreptitiously pulled out a little W&M notepad to write down future outfit ideas on the train, so impressed was I by what I saw. Was it everyone? No. But there were people there who, like me, gave a damn. And it was nice.
But, alas, like I said previously, living here you don't see that a lot. I went to the grocery store on my lunch break today to pick up stuff for breakfast for dinner tonight (trying out some new [healthy] dishes and will definitely report on here how it goes!). I was just kind of happily walking about picking up my stuff, so pleased to be at the grocery store without having to entertain Alice or make sure that Gabby and Sam aren't picking up stuff with crazy faux-ingredients. I walked past a couple a few times who were also buying stuff. I'll just be frank and say that they looked quite poor and probably addicted to something. Both were dressed in oversized sweats and t-shirts. The girl was wearing some flip flops and had her hair pulled back into a messy ponytail, no make-up. To be honest, it didn't really register, because this is kind of the going look in the grocery store here (and probably, sadly, a lot of places). However, I noticed the guy kind of smiling at me a couple of times. Most notably, I was picking up some bittersweet chocolate and some coarse sea salt (for a special back-to-school week treat for the fam) in the baking aisle, and I almost backed into him. I smiled and apologized, just the same as I would do if he were an 80 year old grandmother or a dignitary or a spider from Mars. I could feel him watching me as I walked back to my cart and on down the aisle.
The girlfriend, however, didn't take this too well. We checked out around the same time, she and he a bit ahead of me. By the time I paid and got my stuff back in the cart, she and he had taken their things and settled on a bench in the front of the store, presumably to wait on someone else. As I was walking by, I heard girlfriend say loudly (and pointedly), "I DON'T KNOW WHO THE HELL SHE THINKS SHE IS, BUT I FEEL SORRY FOR HER BECAUSE THAT SHIT CAN'T BE COMFORTABLE."
It took me a minute to figure it out, but when I did, I looked out of the corner of my eye. She was glaring right at me. The boyfriend was kind of nervously giggling at this point and going, "Nah, nah, you know it ain't like that," as I picked up my stuff out of the cart to walk out to the car.
That, my friends, was my moment of zen.
To be honest, it is pretty comfortable. Right now I'm wearing a denim pencil skirt, a white sleeveless shirt that is a bit loose and a lavender cardigan. Nothing fancy. My only jewelry is a pair of drop earrings made out of different colored pastel stones. I am also wearing black croco peep toe heels that I've had forever. I blew out my hair this morning and straightened it--almost halfway, to be honest, because I had to get lunches packed.
But regardless of what it is, even if I were wearing something boned or heels an inch higher or a shorter skirt, it would still be more comfortable than a lack of self-confidence. Because being happy with what you've got is a whole hell of a lot more welcoming than a pair of ratty sweatpants anyday.