Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hepola's Break Up With Her Yoga Pants...

Sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Sonja Jarmoszuk's office, (our children's dentist who we love by the way!), reading October 2012 issue of Ladies Home Journal, I came across a great article by Sarah Hepola, "I Broke Up With My Yoga Pants." It is well written, funny, and right on the mark.  A link to the article is provided below.

My favorite excerpt is as follows:

"Don't get me wrong: I'm not against comfort. I will lay my body down in front of a tank for our right to wear stretchy synthetics. But I also think part of the current obsession with shows like Mad Men -- and the craft culture that fuels popular sites like Etsy, Pinterest and Modcloth -- is a desire to bring back the specialness and femininity of 1960s fashion, without all the retro sexist baggage."

Particularly after having to wear frumpy Merrill 'walking shoes', running shoes, or casual Croc sandals EVERY DAY for the last couple years due to a chronic foot injury, I can certainly relate to how 'dressing up' (or down, for that matter) can really do wonders on your psyche.  As Hepola quotes Michelle T. Sterling, founder of Global Image Group in San Francisco, "Dressing well affects the way you think, feel and act.  When you look good you feel more capable, competent, and confident..."

Although our American culture places a high value on the perfect appearance,  fortunately AND unfortunately, this priority has been a slippery one for me.  I say fortunately since I genuinely recognize and value the less-superficial things about both myself and others.  In the long-run is this not what truly matters?  At some point, we will all get wrinkles and grey hair right? Although these signs of aging might be alarming, we will be happier if we can learn to age gracefully and take these in stride...If we can learn to appreciate that our wrinkles mark the currency we exchange for the wisdom, experience, and confidence only age can provide.

Granted, I enjoy the artistic/self-expression aspect of fashion and try to look my best, but I spend more time and energy on enriching my body, mind, spirit, and soul....I aim for exercise and healthy eating because they are good for my body, long-term health, and make me FEEL energized and centered...I aim for ways to be a better mother, wife, friend, and citizen....I seek out relationships based on whether people are nice, caring, interesting, reliable, and fun to be around....not based on more superficial pre-requisites....Over time, I have discovered that some of the most put-together, perfect-looking, and/or charming people happen to ALSO unfortunately be rather insincere, shallow, mis-guided, and unauthentic (i.e. Bravo's Real Housewives of Any City).

Yet, unfortunately, I need to reign in this priority, and remind myself to NOT run around in yoga pants all day.  As a stay-at-home-mom, it is very easy to become lax in this regard, since your priorities are not conducive to vanity.  Accordingly, you are constantly pulled in every direction (refilling milk, wiping bottoms, changing diapers) except the one in front of your mirror.  Furthermore, your primary audience considers a glittery polyester Cinderella dress or Thomas the Train T-shirt to be fabulous-fashion ensembles.

As the article points out, regardless of our reasons for dressing casually or comfortably, the harsh reality remains: others naturally judge and make assumptions about you based on your appearance.  Whether or not they are warranted or accurate, these assumptions extend beyond the superficial to your personality and character.  Are you uptight or laid back? Are you super organized or sloppy? Are you conservative or eccentric?

After living in various cities across the U.S., I have also discovered geographical variances in acceptable or normal levels of 'dressing up'.  When we lived in the south (Charlotte, Atlanta), or in more cosmopolitan areas (Chicago, Boston) I noticed women tend to dress up more.  I observed women in skirts, pumps, and pearls strolling about the Buckhead Publix....women in chic fur coats and high-heeled leather boots strutting across Michigan Avenue.  Whereas, women living in Midwestern/suburban areas (Overland Park, Kansas or Rocky River, Ohio) tend to dress more casually day to day.  You were more likely to run into friends wearing work-out clothes and running shoes, taking their children to soccer games and swim lessons.  Perhaps this is more about a demographical difference in terms of interacting with more fellow working women versus stay at home moms, during these different phases of my life.

Nevertheless, we all have our own unique style and what works for one may not work for each his own.  Our style is an expression of various influences, from places we have lived or traveled, to ways in which we are feeling.  It is an interesting topic, and one well-discussed in Hepola's article.  I love the way she ends her article with the following paragraph:

"I still put most of my energy into writing and conversation (I gave up the wine), but I also put energy into letting people know that every moment matters to me. I dress for it. I care about it. Dressing up makes me feel good, and it brings out my best self. Life is a cabaret, my friend, and I don't want to sleepwalk through it draped in a muumuu. I, for one, want to wear pearls."

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