What not to wear

Dear Daughter,

So I’m totally stealing the name of this post from the TLC show where two fashion experts help poorly dressed people get a new look. We all love a good makeover story, so this show is kind of addicting.

I’ve written before about how you shouldn’t wear PJs to the final exam and that you shouldn’t leave the house without lipstick and earrings. It’s safe to say that I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to personal appearance. But I think anyone would agree with me that the following items are things people (particularly women) should eliminate from their closets, or at least should not wear in public.

1. Pleated pants. It takes a special woman to pull off pleated pants. If she has a single curve in her waistline, forget about it.

2. Leggings without a dress or long shirt. Leggings are meant to be like tights, not like pants. If we see any part of your derriere while wearing leggings, you’ve gone too far, my friend.

3. A scrunchy. The name itself explains why these hair bands should not be a fashion accessory. Scrunchies were wildly popular in the late ’80s/early ’90s and thankfully are pretty much extinct now. But every once in a while I’ll see a woman wearing one and it makes me cringe. It doesn’t even hold the hair well, so it makes this loose ponytail, all bound by this blob of denim or American flag material.

4. Oversized sweatshirts. I’m not a big fan of the sweatshirt in general, though if it’s the right size and occasion, it could work. Lots of women, however, wear sweatshirts that are too big for them, which does not flatter the figure at all. I can appreciate the desire to be comfortable, but it is possible to do so while wearing something that you don’t swim in. On the other hand…

5. Undersized t-shirts. There are just as many women wearing shirts that are waaay too small and clingy for their frame. You see this in young women especially, who are probably trying to look hot but instead it has the reverse effect, by showing off every roll in their upper body. There is a way to look good without having to squeeze into a tight shirt.

6. Short shorts. I’ve said my piece about this. I’ll say no more.

7. Carhart jackets. These are okay if you’re going out hunting or farming. Not for a trip to the mall.

8. Crocs. Some people might disagree with me on this one, but I’ve never understood why these goofy-looking shoes are so popular. They’re ugly, they have holes in them, and they come in weird colors. I’ll admit it’s kinda cute when little kids wear them but if you’re not 5 years old, the Crocs should be replaced with real shoes.

9. Nightgowns. Obviously these shouldn’t be worn in public but not even at home. They’re frumpy, clumsy and can’t be comfortable to sleep in. Opt for the PJ pants instead. (But don’t wear those outside of the house either!)

And lastly…

10. Tattoos. There, I said it. I don’t like tattoos. Especially on women. I’ll leave it at that.

Love,
Mom

**Disclaimer:** I realize this post comes across as a tad judgmental. It’s just that, women are beautiful creatures. And we should display that beauty in a tasteful but still flattering way. It saddens me when I see a woman wearing something that hinders her true beauty. Get pretty, girls! Dress well, ladies! You’ll look great but more importantly, you’ll feel great!

The importance of getting enough sleep

Dear Daughter,

You come from a family of women who often choose productivity over sleep. We tend to put sleep on the backburner, because there are other, more important things to do, like laundry, dishes, doing our nails. I’m starting to learn, however, that sleep is much more important than I give it credit for. MAYBE even more important than nail polish, if you can believe it!

I tease J because he claims he simply cannot function unless he gets at least eight hours of sleep at night. Who gets eight hours of sleep anymore?! I’m lucky if I get six. And all this time I’ve been wearing that as a badge of honor. Look at me, I’m a busy woman. I don’t even have time to sleep because I’m so busy! But you know what? J might be onto something. He’s never, ever sick and he’s one of the most hard-working people I’ve ever met. Could it be due to the fact that he gets the proper amount of sleep?

It’s tricky, because most people truly don’t have eight hours to dedicate to slumber. We have so much to occupy our time these days. One of the reasons I don’t get enough sleep is because I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to write this blog. I don’t want to give up writing; to me that’s worse than giving up sleep (well, some days sleep wins). So how do I make it all work? How do I fit in all of my goals and desires while still getting enough sleep?

Just like everything else, it’s about choosing your priorities. There are some days when the laundry or dishes really can wait until the next day. If my priorities, my non-negotiables, every day are family time, writing, and eating (yes, food is that high on my list!), then everything else aside from those priorities should fall behind sleep.

That’s not to say we have a license for laziness either. Our waking hours should be spent wisely so that when we do go to sleep, we do so with the assurance that we’ve truly accomplished everything we could that day.

It’s important for you to learn this while you’re young, Daughter, so that you develop a good balance between sleep and productivity. I’m a firm believer that sleep (or the lack thereof) is directly related to your health, not to mention your mood. So if you make sleep a priority from a young age, you’ll be a healthier, happier person because of it.

All this talk about sleep has made me sleepy. I’m just gonna….zzzzzzzzzzzz

Women and their weight

Dear Daughter,

It’s a mystery to me why we women are so preoccupied by our body image. It’s like God gave us an extra rib and with it an extra dose of insecurity. Maybe what He really gave us was humility (to juxtapose the confidence of our male counterparts), but we’ve twisted and turned it into low self-esteem. All I know is, every woman struggles with her body image to some degree. Even supermodels are consumed with their bodies because they need to maintain its fabulousness, which is difficult to do.

There’s a fine line between doing what it takes to be healthy and obsessing about losing weight. There’s also a fine line between being comfortable with who you are and being a little too comfortable with who you are. It’s crazy but our culture has capitalized on the negatives of both mentalities. On the one hand, images of hot women and diet foods litter our TV screens and magazine pages, but on the other, we’re told to accept ourselves as we are, even if what we are is obese and disease-ridden. We’re getting conflicting messages, and both ends of the spectrum can be damaging. No wonder we women are an emotional bunch!

I’m curvy, with a small waist and a J-Lo-like booty. It’s easy for curves to turn into rolls, so I’ve been careful not to let that happen. I’ve never been overweight, per se, but I’ve had moments where I’m less comfortable with my body than others. Right now is one of those times. I’m 7-1/2 months pregnant, so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I’ve gained weight in areas other than the belly (see: J-Lo-like booty) and I’m mad at myself because of that. I regret that I haven’t been eating better nor exercising. In fact, I’m consumed with guilt and regret every day. And sometimes I want to crawl into a hole because I don’t want people to see me and think I look fat.

This is what we women do to ourselves. We beat ourselves up, which is just as unhealthy as eating poorly or neglecting to exercise. There is a deep mental connection with what should only be a physical issue. And it’s that mental connection that makes or breaks us.

Daughter, I’m not going to tell you to just be happy with who you are no matter what you look like, because I don’t want you to think it’s okay to be unhealthy. I’m also not going to tell you to develop a rigorous diet or fitness plan. Instead, my advice is to make the right decisions as they come to you. If you’re given a choice of an apple or a donut, or if you’re contemplating watching TV or going for a 30-minute run, stand back and decide which is the best choice for you at that particular moment. When you step outside of your instincts and put some thought into it, you’ll likely choose the healthiest option every time. And when you consistently choose the healthy options, your confidence skyrockets because you know you’ve made the right decisions, from which your health will benefit. Suddenly weight is no longer on the forefront of your mind, and you can focus on bigger and better things.

My hope for you is that you don’t get caught up in the rat race of weight obsession. My hope is that you’ll rise above all of that nonsense and will serve as a strong, confident, healthy example of what God intended for us women in the first place.

Love,
Mom

How good health makes everything better

“Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year.” -Franklin P. Adams

I saw this quote and thought it was a perfect follow-up to Friday’s post, about how we should enjoy winter rather than complain about it. According to the quote above, being healthy makes it easier to do so. And it’s so true; when you’re at the top of your game health-wise, everything looks brighter and feels better, even when the outer elements might not be ideal. So eat those veggies and work those muscles! It’ll make every time of year the best time of year.

Perception of beauty, true or false?

This video is a couple years old but I like to watch it every once in a while, as a reminder that the beautiful women we see in movies and magazines look the way they do because of lots of makeup, hairspray and Photoshop. Every woman wakes up looking like plain Jane, even models and celebrities. We need to stop trying to live up to Hollywood’s standards of beauty, because they’re not real.

Never leave the house without…

Dear Daughter,

I’m going to pass along some words of wisdom my own mother gave me when I was in my teens. Are you ready for it? Okay, here goes… never leave the house without lipstick and earrings.

Those were Nonna’s words of wisdom, you ask? Yes, those are just some of many, and while this particular advice may seem superficial, it’s actually quite the opposite.

I wrote a while back about why you shouldn’t wear pajamas to the final exam, the reason being that you should wear clothes that make you feel confident and respectable. The same applies to makeup. When my mother gave me the advice above, she was basically saying, “You can go without foundation. You can go without blush. But without lipstick and earrings, you’ll look and feel unfinished, unkempt.”

The emphasis should be on “feel,” because with all things related to beauty, what’s most important is how you feel rather than how you actually look, right? Clothing, shoes, makeup and accessories have this crazy power to influence a girl’s self-esteem (for that day, anyway). When you wear a clumsy outfit, you feel uncomfortable all day, and your mind is focused more on your discomfort than on other, more important things. But when you wear the outfit that best highlights your shape and color, you feel on top of the world, like you can do anything. Your outfit is an extension of the awesome you that you already are. And when you know that, you stop thinking about your appearance and start focusing on social and intellectual productivity.

According to my mother, lipstick and earrings are icing on the cake of all that awesomeness. They bring that last final touch, that extra boost of confidence, because of their subtle ability to make you look polished and put together. These little extras show that you care, that you take pride in your appearance and therefore in yourself. They command respect and dignity.

I’m not saying you should wear bright red lipstick and huge, gaudy earrings every day (in fact, please don’t). Even a neutral shade of lipstick and small hoop earrings will do the trick. It’s about so much more than looking pretty. It’s about taking the time to feel good about yourself.

Love,
Mom

Why you shouldn’t wear PJs to the final exam

Dear Daughter,

We have reached the stage where you and I battle about clothing on a near daily basis. You would be okay with walking out the door wearing cropped red sweatpants, an orange t-shirt with some Disney celebrity’s mug on it, white socks and black tennis shoes. And unbrushed hair.

I, on the other hand, prefer a more polished look. The words you are tired of hearing me say are jeans, skirts and sandals. All three of those items, when worn correctly, make any girl, no matter what age, look both cute and cool. But it’s the “cute” part that makes you nervous. Heaven forbid you look too girly!

Clothing is a means of expressing yourself, yes, and I am all for letting you express your tomboy nature through your wardrobe. Honestly. But there’s a difference between that and wearing pajamas to the final exam. Let me explain…

When I was in college, during finals, lots of girls would come to the classroom wearing their pajamas. Some even wore their slippers. I never understood this. I’m sure they had stayed up all night studying. (Another phenomenon I’ll never grasp. If you get no sleep, chances are good you won’t be mentally focused for your test.) But even so, could they not take 5 minutes from their cramming to throw on some jeans and a t-shirt? Some girls said they wore their PJs because it was more comfortable. So the rest of the year they’d suffered through discomfort in their oh-so-constricting street clothes?

Here’s my philosophy on what to wear to the final exam, and to anyplace you go… you will feel far more comfortable and confident by looking put together than you will by looking like a slob. There, I said it. And “put together” doesn’t have to mean frilly dresses, high heels and lots of makeup. It just means anything that makes you look and feel presentable, polished, poised. (More alliteration… I’m a fan.)

I never wore my PJs to the final exam because when I wear pajamas I feel lazy and sleepy. I want to feel neither lazy nor sleepy while taking one of the most important tests of the year. Rather, I want to be on the ball. I don’t see how it’s possible to be on the ball while wearing loose flannel pants and bunny slippers. So I wore clothing that I felt comfortable in, both mentally and physically. And guess what? I did pretty well on my exams. I didn’t need pajamas to help me get an A.

The moral of the story? Clothing is more than an expression of who you are. It also has the means to inflate or deflate your confidence. When you can combine your inner expression with the ability to look and feel confident and respectable, you’ve succeeded in fashion, as far as I’m concerned. So when I tell you that, no, you cannot wear basketball shorts and a tank top to church, now you know where I’m coming from.

Love,
Mom

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