I don’t know about you, but sometimes I worry about the way I look. Ok, actually, I do know. You do the same thing. Even the most confident and nonchalant of my friends care about what is going on with their hair/face/clothes/general appearance at least some of the time. I think if we all had reach a place of enlightenment after which we no longer care about our appearances many more of us would be nudists.
But we do care, often a great deal, and not just about the way we look but also the attractiveness of the things over which we have some control. We’re embarrassed when our kids want a regrettable haircut, apologize when the cake got lopsided in the baking and frosting process and tease our friends for dressing too casually/formally/preppy/hipster/frumpy/sexy/insert adjective.
It’s good to care about our appearance and the outcome of our projects. Teaching our kids and friends about face shapes, complimentary colors, and the magic of mascara and lipstick can be a helpful and loving gesture. Taking the cloche off of a perfectly frosted cake, browned pastry, or beautifully decorated mousse is an amazingly satisfying moment, and many delicious foods are made more appealing by the anticipation of their attractive appearance.
Far too many times I have seen a preoccupation with appearance keep someone from trying something new or continuing an activity when they see how they look doing it or aren’t satisfied with the visual result. As I’ve said before, life is often challenging and we should embrace and create more of the things that make us happy. Limiting ourselves to only activities in which we, and our end results, are Insta ready eliminates far too many options to be healthy, fulfilling or sustainable.
I am guilty of this myself. The cover photo for this article represents my biggest hurdle in baking, the macaron. I have sampled and read and compared methods and printed recipes and I have yet to overcome the first challenge- baking a batch. I’m intimidated and convinced that the learning curve will be too steep and it will take ages for an attractive cookie to emerge from my oven. I am keeping myself from a fun activity that I have been looking forward to for ages simply because I am too preoccupied with the visual outcome of my attempt. I’m not even that worried that they’ll taste bad. I think they’ll be delicious however they look, but here I am, frozen and held back by my desire for an attractive result. So this lesson is for me as much as anyone…
Macarons are made to be sandwiched and eaten, not looked at. If their colors and textures and flavors make you happy, find a way to make them. Join a class, get help from a friend, watch a video, buy four times the necessary ingredients and just plan to throw away the first batch. Find a way to enjoy this part of life.
Swimming suits are made for swimming, not modeling. If swimming makes you happy, or could make you happy, or makes your kids happy, do it. Buy a super expensive suit, find a good body acceptance program (like this one), find a counselor, go with your friends, wear a burkini, whatever you need to do. Just make sure that you don’t miss out.
Dancing is amazingly fun and great for your body. There are very few things that make me feel as happy and alive as a good dance session. I know that some people disagree, but if you have even the slightest desire to bust a move, please do it. Find a dance class to build a repertoire, dance in the dark all by yourself, only go dancing at bars where everyone else is already drunk. Dance is much too liberating and powerful to be missed.
If making an ugly face helps you finish that last set, grimace away.
Running isn’t a performance art, you are allowed to look like a windmill having a seizure.
Jumping jacks make everyone’s everything jiggle, you aren’t alone.
Read young adult fiction by yourself in a crowded bookstore.
Ordered a double cheeseburger and devour the whole thing.
Paint your nails and enjoy your manicure no matter how much of your cuticles, fingers and hands end of splotched with polish.
Giggle at funny animals in public.
Hold on to your faith no matter who thinks it’s foolish.
Make splatter paintings and poorly drawn stick figures and lopsided hearts.
Give yourself a vibrant makeup look and wear it with pride.
Life is far too precious to miss out on any of it because we were too busy trying to look good.