Before I had my first baby, I swore up and down that I would never be that mom who stayed in sweats all day. And I most certainly would never, EVER be that mom that actually left the house in sweats. I was confident that I would be able to put myself together, and stay put together, every day after my son was born. I was also dead-set on never being late, even though it is a common stereotype that mothers are always late everywhere after having their baby. We're all guilty of those misguided ideas of what being a capable mother looks like, and these were big ones for me.
Reality sunk in when it was time to take my new bundle of joy in for his two-day follow up appointment. It was scheduled for the early morning, so I set my alarm to go off before the sun rose to ensure I had ample time to get myself dressed, hair done, and make up applied. I spent more time than I normally would have getting ready because I was determined to make an impression, and even more so I was determined to prove to myself that I could still be pretty. So I'm all put together and ready to go and the time has come to change the baby's diaper and get him dressed. I undid his dirty diaper, turned to grab a wipe, and the next thing I know there's a loud POP and he and I both are covered in poo. We ended up being almost twenty minutes late, and I showed up with no makeup, hair in a bun, and (you guessed it) wearing sweatpants.
I was so embarrassed that day. I felt ashamed because, in my opinion, I wasn't pretty. I had a plethora of not-pretty days in the months that followed. Honestly, it was probably at least a year or more before I figured out the one thing that actually made me feel pretty again - you decide what "pretty" is to you. I know that sounds cliche, but bear with me. Back then, I was so focused on my outward appearance and how I measured up to other women around me. I sometimes wasn't even able to enjoy outings with my family because I felt so inferior. But you know what? I'm not inferior. And neither are you.
Take a moment and think. REALLY think. What does being pretty look like to you? For some women, it's achieving the perfect contour. For others, it's slipping on that little black dress that's just a tad more revealing than your norm. For others still, it may be displays of kindness or grace under fire. There's no wrong answer.
For me, being pretty is a combination of outward appearance and inward emotion. It's how I treat the people I come in to contact with every day, but it's also how well my lipstick is applied. I'm on a huge braid kick right now, so getting my Dutch braids even and hand-picked just right really does it for me. But so does paying for the person behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru. And you know what? There are days I stay in sweats, with no make up and the messiest of messy buns, and I still feel pretty, because my attitude and my actions are pretty.
The point is, you decide what your pretty looks like. And you decide how much effort you want to put in to being pretty that way. You know what my favorite thing about adjusting my perspective like this has been? It's not that I feel better about myself or that I'm happier with who I am and how I look, both of which are true, but it's the newfound ability to acknowledge, understand, and appreciate other peoples' pretty.
I still have days where I feel dumpy. I still have days where I don't feel pretty at all. But I'm human and life is hard sometimes, so it's OK to have an off day here and there. Over all though, now more than ever, I feel pretty.