A few weeks ago I realized I hadn’t posted any pictures of Glow Worm in awhile on Facebook. When I stopped to consider why, I admitted it was because lately, the poor little guy’s face was badly covered in eczema. Of course, I still thought he was adorable, but let’s be real. I didn’t think the pictures would perfectly show off his cuteness.
Once I acknowledged that, I told myself that was silly to not take/post pictures of Glow Worm just because of something he couldn’t control. I didn’t have to curate my children’s online images THAT much, right? So, I snapped a pic and posted it, eczema and all.
I was unprepared for the response.
Almost immediately, people began commenting, concerned about Glow Worm’s cute little face. Suggestions for lotions, potions, medications, creams, etc. came flooding in. My uncle forwarded the pictures to my doctor aunt, who then forwarded it to a pediatrician friend to diagnose and solve the problem. I even got a free tube of an awesome lotion by Paula’s Choice that has helped in soothing the eczema and smoothing his skin.
I couldn’t quite process how people were so worried. I thought I was just posting a picture of Glow Worm.
Now, obviously, people were commenting because they wanted to help. No one was suggesting that Glow Worm’s picture shouldn’t be posted or that there was something wrong with his face. It did, however, make me examine why I was initially so hesitant to post his picture in the first place. Plus, it made me wonder: why am I so obsessed with how my kids look? (Well, other than the fact that they are incredibly good looking. Not that I’m biased or anything.)
I wouldn’t consider myself a vain person. I don’t worry about makeup or how I look on a regular basis – as long as I am somewhat presentable and not looking like a mess. Of course, when I choose pictures that I’m in, I want to choose ones where I look alright, but in general, I am more concerned about making sure the pictures convey my kids in the cutest light possible. (Yes, I consider Group Time Out pictures to be incredibly cute with the bonus of being hilarious. Oh, heck. Here’s an oldie but goodie, now.)
Anyhow, it got me thinking. At what lengths am I willing to go to so that my children will be good looking? And why am I so obsessed with it?
When I was in high school, I knew nothing about makeup or how to dress. I was not UNcool, but I distinctly recall wearing thermal underwear (both long sleeves and pants) under a t-shirt and boxer shorts and considering that an acceptable thing to wear in public. Not only that, I remember wearing it more than once. I realize that most of the 80s and early 90s are a fashion wasteland when we look back upon it in nostalgia/faux-horror, but I think the outfit I just described was just as cringe-worthy then as it is now.
I was lucky enough then (as I am now) to have relatively good skin. I don’t often break out and when I do, it’s mild. So, in general, me not knowing how to wear makeup (let alone being allowed to do so) in high school wasn’t really a problem. HOWEVER. There were the occasional days when I would just have one gigantic red zit on the tip of my nose and understanding how to use concealer would have been much appreciated.
I often wonder how my life would have changed had I possessed the savvy to use makeup and clothing effectively. Would my character have changed? Would I have been more popular? More highly sought after by boys? Would that have even been good for me?
Then, of course, I project all my experiences onto my children. What if my children have bad acne (like some of my and Hapa Papa’s family members experienced)? I’m sure I would have them see a dermatologist or take medication, but would I have them wear makeup as concealer? Even the boys? I seem to remember a guy in high school that used concealer and him being mocked for it. I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time – nor was I knowledgeable enough to see if it were true. Would that be the case for my boys in the future?
Regardless of acne, would I allow Gamera to wear makeup? As a rule, I don’t think most teenage girls really need to wear makeup at all. Personally, I think they should bask in the freedom of not wearing makeup to look good for as long as humanly possible. But I do kinda want Gamera to know HOW to use makeup and how not to look like a clown or a streetwalker. I do want her to feel confident on “bad breakout” days (or at least, more so than NOT having any makeup on would make her).
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. It plays on all my worries and insecurities as an awkward adolescent. (Is there any other kind?) I focus on outward appearances because that seems to be the easiest thing to curate and change. Who hasn’t watched make-over shows and in viewing the final product under all the nice clothes and face spackle, thought, “Wow! They look great! Who knew there was an attractive person underneath all that?”
But in my heart of hearts, as superficial as I can be, I know that ultimately, my children’s outward appearances shouldn’t be that important. I know that the content of their character, the generosity of their spirits, are more important than looks or intelligence. (More on this in another post some day.) I just pray I have the strength of character to realize and promote this in my children.
Until then, however, I leave you with these gems: