As I get older, I realize that my body requires more and more upkeep. Some of that is down to my own ignorance; I washed my face with Dial soap until I was about 27 and wondered why I had so many zits. Now I use facial cleanser and moisturizer. Some of it is also down to personal preference; I am only now becoming curious about makeup, and I’m absolutely floored by how time consuming a minimal cosmetics routine can be.
But some of it is just aging. I need to stretch a lot longer before my workouts if I don’t want to injure myself, I need to eat more carefully if I don’t want to upset my suddenly-sensitive digestion, I need to moisturize my feet in summer and my elbows in winter, do an apple cider vinegar rinse every month for my dandruff, and slather myself in sunscreen every damned day. It feels like a lot of work. And there are entire worlds of body and style maintenance that I’ve never even glimpsed.
And sometimes, when I’m curled up in bed listening to the alarm clock yammer at me about getting up, I think, “Why bother? Why not just throw on a sweater and jeans, put my hair in a ponytail, and slog into work un-showered? Who would care, or even notice a difference?” Sometimes when it’s 30 below and I’ve had a long day, I look at my gym bag and think, “Why bother? One less workout isn’t going to make a difference.” Sometimes I look at my unruly and deeply high-maintenance mop and think, “Why bother? I’ve got hats.”
And if I kept up every bit of maintenance every single day, I’d be a DEEPLY unpleasant human being. So I don’t. I cut myself slack on occasion and drift into anti-upkeep. But, inevitably, I go back to my routines and invest the time and energy to maintaining my body, my look, myself.
And here’s why I bother:
- I only get one body, and I want it to last.
- When I look good, I feel good.
- If I don’t take my ass to the dentist, eat my vegetables, and exercise my muscles, nobody’s gonna do it for me.
- Dressing and style are an invigorating creative outlet for me.
- Caring for myself is part and parcel with respecting myself.
- Self-care is cumulative, so the more I do it, the better off I’ll be.
- Learning to flatter my figure helps me love my body.
- I love to feel strong – both physically and psychologically.
- I’m worth it.
That last one may have been co-opted by a cosmetics firm ages ago, but I believe it is the most important reason to bother. There are thousands of people, activities, and concepts that demand my attention. Naysayers would have me believe that dedicating too much attention to self-care and maintenance is vain, self-centered, futile, and wasteful. But I know better. I cannot do a thing for anyone else if my own resources are tapped, my own health compromised, my own confidence waning. I come first, and I am worth every second of time and iota of effort that I put into myself.
So are you, every one of you. Being a healthy human being, a stylish woman, a well-groomed person … you could fill your days with the tasks that make these things possible, and empty your coffers procuring the associated products. Many celebrities do just that, and we foolishly hold ourselves to their impossible standards. It can get overwhelming, and striking a balance is vital. But never feel guilty for making time to do yoga, even if it means the kids have to entertain themselves for an hour. Never let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve a new lipstick after a crappy day at the office. Never beat yourself up for taking an interest in personal style or investing time in learning flattering your figure.
Because self-care is the work of life, and you, my darling, are 100% worth it.
Originally posted 2010-03-18 05:54:00.