Welcome vanity

Welcome vanity

When I go home for the summer the one thing I do is take a mental break from being a parent and reconnect with the person I used to be. There are enough people around to pull me back the moment they see the mom-in-me taking over me-the-person.

And so it was that my sister pointed out a change that had happened so slowly, so unobtrusively, that I had barely noticed it. Since I gave up full time office I stopped bothering about the way I look.

That doesn’t mean I have become sloppy or untidy or that I lounge around in my night clothes all day. In fact, I like the routine of sitting down at my work table neatly dressed and ready to take on the day.

The difference is – it’s all done mechanically. I don’t give a thought to what I wear. I wear what I always wear. When I was going out to work, I dressed with care. If I was out on an assignment I’d be even more careful, dressing up according to where I was going or who I was meeting. I enjoyed that. It was part of the happiness of going to work. Clothes, pretty clothes, cheered me up. They do still, but somewhere along the way I stopped indulging myself.

If you are a stay-at-home-parent or a work-from-home-person you might comprehend how that happens.

Comfort takes over fashion completely. Not that I was ever ‘fashionable’ but I did own at least one pair of heels which I would fish out when the occasion demanded, I’d visit the parlour regularly and I’d wear a sari to work somedays just for fun.

Now, I find I come up with all kinds of reasons to not dress up – the sari is too cumbersome, heels too uncomfortable, skirts make me look fat, salwar suits are too difficult to maintain and so on.

So I pull on a pair of tights or my jeans and a tee and I’m good to go just about anywhere, a dressy shirt when I’m going out, a plain one when I’m home. As for the sneakers – I practically live in them. Formal events, specially those where I need to wear traditional clothes, are few and far between and always lead to panic (WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!) so much that I look for ways to avoid them. This really needs to change.

Watching my mom is an inspiration. She religiously sticks to her nightly self-care routine, never steps out for her evening walk without changing into a starched and ironed salwar kurta and spends hours at weavers’ exhibitions picking out the most gorgeous saris.

So here it is – my resolution for the rest of the year, rest of my life hopefully: I will have more fun with the way I look.

With the children a little grown up I do have the time. Also, the change might not be huge in the physical sense of it. All one might notice is an extra dash of lip colour, the occasional eyeliner, painted toe-nails, open toed sandals or a bit of heel. Flamboyance was never my thing. Besides, this transformation is more from the inside, more about trying new things, about taking an interest in and enjoying the way I look.

The weight is there of course, it’s going to be there for sometime, maybe longer, maybe forever. However, that really shouldn’t stop me, right?

Some amount of vanity cannot hurt.

This piece here argues that vanity can be an effective motivator. So if I start enjoying the way I look I might actually be motivated to lose weight and look better and get further motivated and so on in a delightful cycle.

Sounds good, huh?

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50 Replies to “Welcome vanity”

  1. Tell me about it! I stay at home all the time and never dress up because I stay indoors. Nowadays I am making an effort to put some eyeliner on or apply a little moisturizer. It’s easy to fall into that trap of not making the effort to groom yourself. I realized by the time I would actually get some time just for myself I would probably won’t be young as now. 🙂 We should just stop waiting around and take action when we realize that, right?

    1. Exactly Vinitha. We cannot put our lives on hold and wait for the children to grow up because who knows by then we would have completely forgotten things that brought us happiness.

  2. I think I will too develop that neglecting behavior if I start WFH. I love to experiment, this year I started wearing plazos and dresses more. Good wishes.

  3. Did you write this for me?? We are on the same page on this one. I have stopped wearing sarees and suits are for occasions. Jeans and tops/tees are what I wear everyday, thankfully, that’s the dress code at work too.
    My father is very particular about dressing even when at home and that has rubbed on to me too. At home, you will not find me in my PJs and I make an effort to change even if I have to go the the neighbourhood shop. But, yes, I would like to change my national dress of Jeans to other types of dresses too.
    Shilpa Garg recently put up this amazing post…7 Reasons to Travel Solo

  4. Yes this happens to us all. Particularly on days like today when it is so hot that any attempt to look like a summer rose are greeted with a red face and a little perspiration. I get you though #tweensteensbeyond

  5. Oh I love the honesty of family! I am sure so many will identify with this, I certainly can. There are some days when I just cannot be bothered but I do try to ensure they are not too frequent. When you are “dressed” there is no doubt it makes you feel better about yourself. Hope you have a fabulous summer with your family. Thanks for joining us again. #TweensTeensBeyond
    Jo – Mother of Teenagers recently put up this amazing post…Tweens, Teens & Beyond #12

  6. I work from home and I know exactly what you mean. I also try to ‘dress up’ a bit before I sit down at my desk. I fell like I’m in ‘work’ mode. Thanks so much for joining us at #TweensTeensBeyond

  7. Ah..I fall somewhere in between all this. I postpone my parlour trips till the point I can’t do it anymore or if I’ve to go someplace. I like to dress up as the occasion would demand and I used to be conscious of how I dressed or looked when I was younger. Now, after a baby and also having a WFH status, I’m beginning to care less. Having said that, I’ve become more experimental now with clothes and have a collection of skirts and even a dress in my wardrobe, something I never attempted to wear even in my college days. Some amount of vanity is good!
    Uma recently put up this amazing post…Bhutan: River-rafting at Punakha and an unforgettable trek at Paro

  8. Like so many posts prior to this one, I could (almost) have written this post.
    I completely agree that vanity does have a positive impact on our moods and self-confidence. I made this sort of a change in my life around a year back. Gave my wardrobe a makeover, a few pairs of fancy shoes and adding a regular skin care regimen (that was something I’d neglected for a very long time).
    Not sure about if I dress better now, but my skin has definitely responded favourably to the extra care. And yes, the day you start paying attention to what you wear, you will automatically be more conscious about staying fit.
    Good luck with sticking to this resolve and am sure the encouraging results will help you stay put 🙂
    My Era recently put up this amazing post…Let’s do the #BookTalk

  9. Vanity is important in the right dose! It is very important to me to be dressed well at all times. At home of course I’m in an old tee and shorts with messy hair and no makeup. But when I have to step out, I make sure I’m impeccably dressed with hair, nails and makeup in place. Being well groomed is very important to me. It makes me feels confident and strong. No wonder they say that a well dressed woman can conquer the world.
    Soumya recently put up this amazing post…Of Love & Togetherness

    1. You and your style statement are an inspiration. The thing is it is important to care about the way you look and to not let the casual/careless approach spill out and take over all your life.

  10. Loved your candid talk Tulika. This happens to all of us. Totally relate to it! But still I have always been an ardent supporter of ‘Vanity, No Apologies!’ and I do try to manage a fair enough vanity regimen. I quit my job too and I do miss those days of formal/power dressing. I honestly agree that dressing up boosts one’s mood and confidence. All the best to you… Look good, feel great!

  11. I still try to put an effort to dress up.. but its more if the occassion demands it.. Otherwise I prefer comfort. But my eight year old these days points out as to why I really dont have a lipstick on.. And I need to make her understand that its ok to go out for a walk without make up!!!!!

  12. I actually liked your idea. And I have been saying the same thing to my mom too… for a very long time. But frankly, figuring out what to wear the next day can be stressful, well because a girl can never have enough clothes Your mom is for sure an inspiration.
    Rajlakshmi recently put up this amazing post…Turmeric girl is a ball of fur!

  13. I totally get what you are saying, Tulika. Though, I do enjoy working in my PJs, at times, I like to make an effort to dress up as well. I love wearing saris to occasions. In fact, I make an effort with all the accessories and makeup in place. Makes me feel so good, and it’s always nice to see the eyes of the boys light up. 🙂 Even when I go for my workout or walk, I dress up in workout clothes. I can never understand sloppy. The other day, I was seeing a picture of mine when the elder son was born and I had long nails and a lovely nail polish on. That is one thing, I have stopped doing. I paint my toe nails religiously in bright colours but not my fingernails. It is too bothersome since I cook. Perhaps, the priorities change a bit. But yes, vanity is important. After ages, I bought a dress recently. 🙂 Enjoyed this post.
    Rachna recently put up this amazing post…The Beautiful Sights and Sounds of Venice in Italy

    1. I love how flexible you are Rachna when it comes to dressing up. And you carry off everything so well – Western as well as Traditional Indian wear. And here’s a confession: I bought a dress too, recently, only haven’t yet gathered the courage to wear it. I am discovering how difficult it is to break out of an image!

  14. I can so relate to this one, which is why I try to make time to dress up when I go out 🙂 I don’t spend too much time, mind you, but I do take care of having matching accessories and of course, the tween is more than happy to offer fashion advice. Make up was never my forte so that will remain, of course. But you are so right about the older generation taking time for themselves and making it work. We need to learn that from them.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently put up this amazing post…Confessions of an Exhausted Mom

    1. I love your starched saris and your neckpieces. Maybe you could try a teeny tiny bit of makeup – just to spice things up. Ah yes we have a fashion conscious tween too but unfortunately she had kind of written me away. The good bit is I am enjoying surprising her these days. She loves it of course, when I dress up.

  15. Oh the same had happened to me or has happened to me with so many things on my plate these days. In my case too it’s the sister who reminds me to take care of myself. There was a time when every Sunday I would put on a new colour of nail polish for the work week and I would have beautiful nails, not anymore. It’s tough when you have to do so much. But the rude awakening happened a few months ago when I was flying back home from Delhi. I saw a woman dressed in a beautiful salwar kameez travelling with a newborn baby. And I looked at myself. What I saw wasn’t something I wanted to see. So, tough it is extremely hard, I have been trying to indulge in some vanity myself. I’m not what I used to be but at least I’m trying 🙂
    Nabanita Dhar recently put up this amazing post…#FeministMondays | Why Does A Woman’s Marital Status Or Her Plans For Motherhood Affect Her Rise At Work?

    1. Don’t worry Naba, it happens to all of us when the children are small. You really have a lot to handle and you’re doing it so wonderfully. The trouble happens when we forget to reclaim our lives even when the children grow up and we do have the time. I love the bond you share with your sister. Actually it reminds a lot of me and my sister. I am glad you have her and that is why you’ll be fine.

  16. This was a nice read, Tulika. I have realised that I tend to slip in the vanity department when i stay home for long periods of time. Your post served as a reminder that I shouldn’t. I loved reading about your Mom:)

    1. Ha ha .. I like the sound of ‘Live life like a lady’. You are lovely Shalini and this post is most certainly not for you. Good luck and hope you have fun in your new life.

    1. That’s so me. Jeans it is, all the time. But it just got so hot this year that I was forced to explore other options. The fat is a downer I know but we just have to learn to live with it, till we kick it off, that is. I’d love to hear back from you.

  17. Lovely piece Tulika. Can so identify with it . As a stay at home mom my visits to parlour are so rare against that when I was working in an MNC. At that point even a teenie weenie chipped nail enamel would make me go arrggh.

    1. True, isn’t it? So make the change. Do something fun, even if it is something really small like doing your hair differently or wearing something you don’t normally wear. Hint – You’d look fab in a skirt :-).

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