Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ugly duckling


I am generally happy with my size, my body and my clothes. I used to have many more insecurities, but sometime around the time I turned forty, I thought I have finally arrived.

My closet was purged and restocked with things I love and I do not have so many of those 'I have nothing to wear' or 'everything looks hideous on me'  moments any more. I own well fitting clothes for work and play, casual, formal and everything in between.  I know what I like and I don't do too much of fantasy buying. I like to think I own my style and wear my clothes with confidence and no regrets. 

So far, so good...

Only, sometimes, I have those moments of feeling that I got it all wrong. Wrong style, wrong look, just WRONG ME, going straight back to my clumsy, uncool,  makeover needing self.


I had one of those moments last Sunday, in church, of all places. I don't remember what I was wearing, but there was this couple right in front of us. The woman was wearing flared chambray trousers, some kind of short but flowy gray cardigan, and kind of athletic footwear that somehow looked cool and just right with her outfit and an oversized canvas/leather bag. She is probably at least ten years younger than me, naturally beautiful, 15 pounds thinner and with layered, thick, brown hair cascading half way down her back. Her husband put his arm around her shoulder and gently pushed a strand of hair from her face, with this glazed over, 'I can't believe she is standing next to me', look.


I suddenly realized I got it all wrong. I am too fat, too old, my hair will never cooperate, my husband thinks I am OK, but nowhere near  'I can't believe she is standing next to me'  adorable. My style is uncool. Who the heck wants to wear all those colorful pencil skirts, like I am stuck in the 60's or some kind of Glee addict. Nobody even remotely cool would be caught dead in my clothes, that's for sure.

is this how my J.Crew clothes look to the outside world?

I do know the couple in front of us, because their daughter is in the CCD class with my daughter. The kid is absolutely adorable, well behaved and looks exactly like her mother. Why is it that none of my daughters look like me? Probably nature telling me I should not be reproducing...

And then my husband innocently asked me: 'Does it take a lot of work to have a hair like this?' . Okay, so all this time, when I could at least hope this was just in my head, he has been admiring her hair too??? No doubt he also noticed that her butt looked great in those chambray trousers. And I couldn't  even console myself with thinking that she is some kind of stuck up, shallow,  Kardashion loving, bimbo.  I have talked to her and she is low key and friendly. They just moved to town, struggling a little, trying to adjust and make new friends. There was no way I could hate her.

When we got home I stared at the content of my closet. No, she would never wear any of it, I decided.  What was I thinking??? Should I throw it all out and start from scratch?

But, of course, I will never be her age again (in fact, I don't remember EVER being that age, I was always of already-too-old-age), my butt will never look half as good in ANY trousers, nothing would make my hair CASCADE and the new clothes will certainly not come with an adoring husband..



Life is just not fair, I pouted.

But since there was nobody around to even notice that, I stuffed my hair in the scrunchie and headed for the kitchen to make lunch for my not-so-adoring husband and daughter.

"Mom, you look beautiful" my daughter exclaimed as I was coming down the stairs. "Yeah baby, those pants look hot on you" my husband winked at me. "How about a glass of wine for my beautiful wife?"

OK, I am lying. Cross out the last paragraph. The timing does not work quite as well in my family. But I am sure this is just what they think, at least sometimes, right?

I did pour myself a glass of wine. And since I will never be willowy slim anyway, I sliced some cheese, too.
Oh, well...

***

Have you ever had one of those days?

What triggers your self doubt and what makes you feel better?

Please share, it would be no fun without you!!!

38 comments:

  1. This is a little scary -- I just stumbled across your blog today for the very first time, and what you've written describes exactly how I feel (some days)! Most of the time I love my clothes my style, my family, my life, etc, but sometimes when I'm PMSing (tired, bloated, crabby, fighting with my kids...) and I see one of those effortlessly-fashionable-women who seem to have it all, my confidence completely disappears.

    I try to remind myself that no one really "has it all." We all have our share of problems and self-doubts, it's just that some of us are more willing to admit it.

    How do I make myself feel better? Sometimes a glass of wine helps, or a reeses peanut butter cup.

    Or, here we go, secret confession: I blast C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat" (aka "Everybody Dance Now) and my kids join in for a 5 minute dance off.

    You know that beauty from church would never do anything that fun with her kids!

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    1. Hi JCK, I am so glad you decided to stop by, I hope you stay...
      Love the dance-off sugestion and yes to Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, yum!

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  2. Yep, I had this on holiday, my first few days in LA were puddles of self loathing it's horrible, some people never get it but I've always been insecure about everything. Going on holiday sets it off as when I'm at home I don't look in the mirror too often or focus much on my appearance everyday but when you're away you're always going out and I'm always raddled with the feeling of being a mess and not being good enough.
    What makes me feel better is being at home, wearing no make up, scraping my hair back and just forgetting all about appearances.
    It's a relief to know others feel like this too, I sometimes think I'm not normal.

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    1. tabitha we need to start a recluse club. maybe recluse will be the new normal!

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    2. Tabs I know, but read below, people love you and your looks. If you are not normal it is only in a best way!
      And you know, your hair actually does CASCADE, you cannot deny it...

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  3. Yep, I have, everyday! I live in Paris . . .with two small children. I am surrounded by incredibly fashionable French women.

    And I can imagine that woman at your church went home after church and said to her husband, "Why can't I ever look as put together and polished as that lady we saw at church. She looked so fresh and beautiful in her bright colors and here is plain old me in my drab chambray and gray".

    We all suffer from it. You look fantastic, have that glass of wine!

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    1. OMG, I love Paris but I would die, I can only imagine. Although I bet you look just great Robin.

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  4. We do all suffer from it, oh my God do we ever. I was just now trying to fix my frizz bomb hair in the mirror. No cascades here. My skin looks so pale I look like "death warmed over" as my Dad would say. Because I have to wear a 30 sunblock now that I am old and it makes my pale skin even whiter if that's possible.
    AND yesterday I tried on my pink/orange tweed pencil skirt in my normal J Crew size, just arrived, and my butt is exploding out of it, it's indecent. Why aren't those butt lifts working? It makes me want to start all over again with my wardrobe, replace it all with the flowing Eileen Fisher to cover my giant butt!
    Great post, thanks ajc. Let's cheer up, if I ever saw you in a public place before we met I'd think "awesome clothes that woman needs to be my friend!"

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    1. Dani, thank you!
      I think those lifts are actually working, listen to me and Tabitha wishing for an indecent butt, lol!

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  5. I think every woman has those moments! I get that way all the time. I had a tough time in my teenage years - braces, acne, too poor to afford nice clothes - and it's taken decades to shake it off those old insecurities. The wife of one of my husband's friends is drop dead gorgeous and everyone in his group of friends can't stop staring at her whenever we get together for parties. Oh well. Whenever I feel that way, I look at my kids and see how beautiful they are - and I think, that's 50% of my genes making them beautiful! It know it's silly but it cheers me up to no end.

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    1. Louise, it is always good to keep a perpective. Ikwym, I met my husband because he was interested in my cute looking college friend and it took me Years to overcome feeling like 'a second choice'.

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  6. So apropos. I was just at a CABI party-clothing sale at a friend's home. All of the women, mothers with children my son's age were trying on flowy, trendy, crazy pieces that they looked youthful and amazing in. Nothing that ever would have caught my eye. When the model thin, gorgeous hostess held up a plain navy cardigan, everyone said- "Oh there Pat" that looks just like you." I cringed(clad head to toe in JC wearing a cardigan, and with pearls on). I think I have to expand my horizons. Love your blog.
    Pat@knityarns.blogspot.com
    BTW- I am a fellow Bergen gal- An(all too!) frequent Riverside, GSP habitue.

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    1. Pat, that must have been mortifying, although they probably envy you your classic style.
      We probably saw each other at the store, that's funny. If you do see me, come to say hi, I promise i will not think it is weird.

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  7. This post came at a perfect time for me! Today is my birthday and I am turning 39. I am having one of those moments today in fact....thank you so much for posting this today. I come to your blog daily because I think you have great style. I love J.Crew too (so much that I now work there a few nights a week just to get out of the house and be near the style I love!) I think you look great and maybe you aren't Miss perfect hair trouser wearer, but I bet she has someone she wishes she were.

    Here's how I'm trying to look at my birthday this year. My mom passed away when she was 38. As I turn 39 I'm experiencing the life she was never given. Let's all make a pack to love ourselves at our age, weight, style...right where we are! We can think of each other when we have the ugly duckling moments and maybe that will set us back on course for loving our lives.

    Remember in Bridget Jones when Mark tells Bridget he loves her "Just as you are". Let's be that for ourselves!!! Screw Miss perfect hair! ;-)

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    1. You are absolutely right. Happy Birthday!!! And what a coincidence that you are talking about your mom because May 5th is my mom's birthday too!

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  8. Oh AJC - I do love you! You are right on! I was at a meeting all morning, feeling exhausted, and looking at a couple of the other women and thinking "god, I have to lose those 10 pounds and I am really NOT loving what I am wearing today...." it was awful. I don't feel like that very often, but when those feelings hit, it is truly awful! And it is so funny, as I read all your blogs and think how lovely you all are....SO go figure! Nield009 - happy birthday! I am 49 and in 6 months I will be 50. my skin is not firm and taut anymore. But I do feel a heck of a lot smarter and I do know how to "work it" most days. We must all be kinder to ourselves and know this - it is all good after 40 - you will be smarter and sexier than ever, as those young girls don't have it all (although they have some of it!) and they are feeling the same way on the inside, too!

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    1. WMM I know what you mean and I am happy if I cheered you up even a bit.

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  10. AJC you have a hot figure! Believe me, I grew up with a best friend with a figure like yours, & boy did I have a poor body image until I was away from her.  You don't dress dowdy either but I know how you feel about some of the JCrew clothes.  At least with JCrew there are choices for dowdy or stylish w/o looking too trendy (or sexy) when you don't want to - kwim?

    Have a better day and if it brings you down every week, don't sit anywhere near that couple anymore. :)

    P.S. I have lived most of my adult life with an underrated opinion of my looks and finally realized how stupid (& manipulated by the opposite sex) I have been, and try not to fall into but it does happen on occasion -a woman's curse I guess!

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    1. Just Visiting thank you! And yes let's promise to love ourselves as much as we can, always

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  11. What a great post! Last week Tabitha posted a picture of herself in a Sandro long dress and I couldn't believe her beauty. If I looked that way I would rock that dress and hair everyday. I have only being following your blog for 1 month and you and Dani are my styling Queens. If you don't like something I don't order it. This week I'll be getting the rouge dot skirt ,nautical belt and Hallie dress with your help.
    Dust off your valentinas and get back into the dressing room!
    Marsha

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    1. Marsha, I was thinking the same thing after reading that post of Tabitha's.
      Oh, now I really hope you like the things you order! Please let us know if they work out for you!

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  12. I hope you answered your husband, "Yes! it takes forever to make hair look like that!". Please don't tell me if her hair looks like that naturally too, I couldn't take it. I am sure I would have envied her too, not just her natural good looks but her style. I waffle between wanting that kind of laid-back style and wanting more of a modern, J. Crew-looking style. I suspect I am achieving neither. I am almost a year into my wardrobe purge & rebuild (after losing weight and needing new clothes) and I hope once the dust settles I will know what looks right more often than not. But truthfully I've lived most of my life thinking I've gotten it wrong with fashion. I am most comfortable doing something like what Tabitha described, being home in my beloved tattered jeans & a tee with my messy hair up, that feels most like me. It's when I go out in the world that I feel like a mess, which gets the whole cycle of trying to wear the right thing started again.

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    1. I did tell him. Although I have this suspicion that her her just does it, but it is not possible, right?

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  13. I have to laugh when I read your post. You express our insecurities so well. I think I'm probably similar to you in age, so I understand how you feel very well.

    Just one thing. I must be very clueless. I've been wearing J Crew for a long time now and have always thought that J Crew was supposed to be...cool. I'm wrong? What a shock LOL!

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    1. I wondered what Jenna must think of this assessment of not cool lol!

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    2. Lol, I think it can be cool, and I think Jenna wears it a cool way, whether I like her style or not, but it has a potential to look stuffy and not so cool or look like that to the outside world. It is like this little world that has its own language and rules ( jca world) but the outsiders know nothing about it, usually I am fine with it but sometimes I question it all, ykwim?

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  14. oh, dear, ajc, that's my life.
    Confession: Himself was once caught staring at a head of long bouncy lustrous red hair and I told him, "That's a wig, you know. A very expensive one."

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    1. WMM, this is brilliant! I am totally borrowing it!!!

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  15. Love the Ugly Betty pic/caption. I had my moment on Thursday at an event. I imagined that I would look pretty fabulous in my JC Turkish delight skirt and tiered silk blouse from a few years ago. I probably looked okay but then I saw someone in an absolutely stunning dress with a large floral print similar to the JC garden floral print but more beautiful. She looked very fashion forward and I felt dated. Her hair was sleek and shiny and mine needs a trim. I couldn't wait to get home and put on some shorts and a t-shirt. I enjoy your blog immensely. You always look great--really!

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    1. Thank you Jean Z! Your outfit sounds pretty but we all have been there and like others pointed out the flower print lady might have run home to change as well, lol

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  16. oh you are good ajc! we women are so hard on ourselves. most of the ladies that commented above (at least the ones that have blogs and i'm sure the others are too) are all drop dead gorgeous. hard to believe any of them, you included could have self doubts about style. i love and admire all of you for putting yourselves out there for the world to see. i think we all learn so much from ea other. recently i have been tormented by a v mean commenter that attacks my looks/style. it is v hurtful to read this kind of criticism but in the end it it making me stronger. as far as comparing ourselves to others, a good friend reminds me all the time that nobody has it all! that helps a lot. the woman in church sounds like a lovely woman and i'm loving her style:).
    excellent post!

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    1. Janet, I have been reading that hateful anon and I can never understand why would anybody ever made any mean comments to you of all people. I hope you don't take it so personally, it is Nothing you did, buti know no matter what it still hurts. Sending you a virtual hug...

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  17. I guarantee you that church lady has her bad days, too. Last Sun may have been one of them. What you interpreted on her husband's face may have been an attempt to make her feel better. I mean, you just don't know what went on at the house before they got to church. You strike me as a very confident and assertive woman. I like the way you speak your mind. You know what you like and don't back down. That's fashionable every day. I also get the sense that you like what you wear and feel good in it, based on pics and what you shared at the beg of this post. I think we're bound to have bad days where we doubt our fashion choices. I totally know the feeling of wanting to start all over. You're doing great!

    Highlight reel. We're only seeing everyone's highlight reel.

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    1. Gigi, you are right we never know. And I even thing it is a little petty, of course who knows what other bigger problems people have, I know I am in fact very lucky on the days when this is my biggest issue, but thank you for being here and support.

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  18. Look at this another way......The church husband guy might have been sucking up to his wife because she had just found out he had been getting a little too cozy-cozy with a co-worker. And the church wife might be in such good shape because she herself has body-image concerns that plague her relentlessly. And them going to church & otherwise trying to look the "perfect couple" is a last ditch effort to save their failing marriage.

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    1. Jane you cracked me up with all the scenarios!

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  19. Thank you all for your support!!! I am feeling better already!
    I think we all have those moments. In fact, I think they are good for us, as long as we are not too hard on ourselves and get stuck in the middle of it.
    I tend to think that permanent confidence can only come from a lack of self reflection. I know it is good for me to have moments of doubt and re-evaluate, it helps me grow and makes me expand, always a good thing. But on the other hand, we women tend to be critical and put ourselves down, that's why we have good friends to help us.
    But you know what? I love having this blog and being able to talk to all of you, because I don;t think I would be able to express all my feelings if I was just talking to a friend, ykwim? We tend to bury those thoughts under a heap of usual kids/husbands/work/whatever chatter.
    Thank you so much for your comments. I always end with 'please share, there would be no fun without you' because I really, really mean it.
    xoxo,
    ajc

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