Fashion and beauty were once very important to me. My personal style was a significant part of my personal identity. It thrilled me when my mother referred to me as a fashionista or my friends called me for shopping advice. Once upon a time, I even had a shopping blog.
At the time, I saw my shoe shedding as proof of my enlightenment or evolution or something.
“It’s trite and silly and foolish, but having a perfect pair of red heels to ironically pair with jeans and a black t-shirt made me feel bold and strong. Beautiful. Having an impressive shoe collection has always been a distinguishable part of who I am.
Who I was.
Now I’m a girl who wants to be free of the burden of a closet full of shoes, purses and clothes. Now I’m a girl who wants to be able to travel lightly and far. Now I’m a girl who saves her money for doing rather than possessing and holds on only to what’s most precious.
Now I’m a girl who bought a pair of Crocs because they’re practical.”
I moved into the RV with a small wardrobe and a conviction that how I looked was irrelevant to who I was.
Within a couple of weeks, I stopped wearing makeup. What was the point when the only people who would see me were my husband, my kids and a bunch of strangers in a campground? After a few months, I decided to chop off my hair; I was going to save so much time and money. Then I had my hair dyed a color I immediately hated; I’ve been letting it just “grow out” because it’s “just hair” and I have better things to spend my money on.
And then we stopped traveling and started spending more time with familiar people. We went back to Florida and I was overcome by my beautiful friend Courtney and how lost I felt standing next to her in the mall. It wasn’t so much that I felt unattractive as I felt muddled and unsure of myself.
I tried not to think about it.
I told myself that vanity was a sign of screwed up priorities.
We moved to Pittsburgh and I began the business of making a home. I remembered how much happiness beauty had once brought me. I loosened my grip a little on the idea of Minimalism.
I’m ready to admit that I miss feeling beautiful.
I miss using fashion as a form of self expression, but I have since cultivated many means of expression. It’s the beauty that I miss.
It’s not that I spend my days feeling ugly or unattractive. Mostly, I just don’t think about how I look, and when I do I am overwhelmed with conflicting emotions about how I should feel and how I think I do feel. I’ve forgotten – and don’t really want to remember – how to throw myself into creating a beautiful exterior. I’ve been overrun by the notions of practical, utility and sparse.
Living without a focus on external beauty has helped me to break the connection between image and self worth. My weight doesn’t impact my mood and the clarity of my skin is not a measure of my value as a person. I am grateful for this separation of soul and surface.
And I’m ready to move on.
It’s time to learn how to embrace both my inner and outer beauty and stop living in fear that one will diminish the other.
It’s time to feel beautiful again.