I was three months postpartum when I was told motherhood had made me “frumpy.” That comment came from an elderly woman who wore lopsided plastic wigs and loose false eyelashes, someone who could be the recipient of many comments herself. Oh, the moments that come when you work retail. I didn’t see her as an annoying customer; I was too busy taking her words in as an ugly truth. Because, truly, motherhood had made me frumpy.
Before pregnancy and parenthood, I put thought and creativity into my style. My hair was the same shade of red as the Little Mermaid’s. I had piercings and tattoos. I wore skinny jeans in small sizes. I was kinda cool.
Then, I removed chemicals from my pregnancy which meant hair dye had to go. My jeans had this stretchy lycra sewn into the top to make room for a swelling belly. Vampire Red (my favorite shade of Manic Panic) receded and I was left with the boring brunette nature gave to me. Frump galore. Bring a baby into this scenario, and it got even worse. Who had time for makeup, outfit decisions, or any sort of beauty routine?
The funny thing is, I never noticed until she said something. I was too concerned with counting diapers, with shirts that made milk-boobs most accessible, with feeling the velvety softness that only a baby’s skin has. In that paradoxical world of bliss and exhaustion, I forgot about myself. I forgot about all the vapid, but fun things I loved before motherhood—like glitter and unnatural hair.
Slowly, I implemented these moments of self-care into my maternal routine. Etching in eyebrows before the park, bleaching my hair during naps, and using my day job to wear all the shirts that were challenging to nurse in. Some may see these as moments of vanity; I see them as necessary moments to feel good about ourselves. And they’re different for all mothers.
Sure, I could kill it at motherhood without caring about my appearance. But, then what am I but a vessel for food and ferrying around a tiny body? If I feel kept up and a little rock and roll, then I feel more confident in stepping out into the world with my daughter--I don’t feel awkward in social settings, or like I only belong cooped up in my house.
There’s also those moments where I catch her watching me, just like I used to do with my mom. After she’d step away, I over-powder my face and smear lipstick. It’s so typically girly, but I adore those connections to my mom--my first real female influence. Tallulah and I will be connected by so much more than make-up and sequins, but life can be simple and fun and a little silly, too.
I saw that same woman the other day, still in her white wig and in her dangling eyelashes. When she saw me, she gasped. She told me this look was the best yet. Motherhood didn’t keep me frumpy, it actually made me that much more fabulous.