My mid-life reflections today are centered on fashion. While I think I generally have good taste in clothes for myself, I have never considered myself a fashionista (not even sure how to spell that). As a child I hated wearing girlie clothes and preferred wearing my brothers hand me downs. This was a huge disappointment to my mother, since I was her only girl. Not that it stopped her from trying to get me to dress and act like a L-A-D-Y. “Paula, L-A-D-Y!” she would beg me on a regular basis to dress, sit, and talk like a “lady.” So talking through burps at the dinner table didn’t go over well. Making pitch perfect sounds with my palms under my armpits or behind my knees didn’t go over well either. I knew she loved me regardless, so I continued to be myself, but tried to respect her wishes at the same time. I saved armpit sounds for times she wasn’t in earshot.
I don’t wear make-up. Ever. I did go through a brief phase of using blue eyeshadow when I was in high school until one day when my Grandma D noticed. She said, in her monotone, gentle manner, “Paula, you really don’t need to put that on your face. You are beautiful just the way you are.” I believed her, because she was one of the most awesome women I ever knew. So, no make-up for me. Well, I did notice that I had some on for my senior picture and prom, but that was it. This make-up issue caused a little bit of a problem for me when I decided that I wanted to be a Jazzercise instructor and franchise owner in the late 1980’s. Wow! Did I say late 1980’s? Ah, yes, that is why this blog is about Mid-Life Reflections. I am still grappling with that. Jazzercise had a policy that instructors had to wear make-up. What? This was ridiculous to me. Supposedly, it made you eyes and mouth more visible to the students in your class. I reluctantly wore make up for the auditions, but never while I taught a class. Who needs mascara running down their face or eye shadow dripping into their eyes from sweating? Did this make any sense at all? That would be distracting to the class, right? And anyone who has ever taken a Jazzercise class from me knows that there is no doubt that my mouth is visible. I’ve asked their opinion about make-up and they all agreed that it was not necessary. Between them and my Grandma’s advice, I won’t even consider it. P.S. Make-up is expensive and takes a long time to put on and take off. It’s not in my budget or in my daily schedule.
Today was day three of hiking during our vacation at Yosemite National Park. What an amazing place! As I packed my suitcase for this trip, I realized that I was definitely going for function, not fashion. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I would have cared about how I looked in the clothes I was packing for hiking. Not now. I still try to match and I will not wear tight anything, but mostly, I want to be comfortable. I used to have a quote from the late comedian, Gilda Radner, hanging in my home office. “I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.” Yep. That and choosing clothes that don’t make me look like I am trying to look twenty again. It helps, a little, that I have a daughter who actually IS twenty! The hard part of this realization for me is not that I am being practical (I have always leaned toward that end), but that I had to be honest that nobody would be looking at me. I am a 57 year old mom and (step) grandmother. I will not be “turning heads” unless I am tripping and falling down the mountain. When I was younger, I was in great shape and, honestly, I looked good. Heads did turn.
I do still get compliments about what I wear, and you know that when someone compliments you on an outfit or dress, you are going to wear it again and again! One younger teacher I work with has an inside joke with me about whether my pants/jeans are “mom jeans” or not. She couldn’t tell by looking at me, so I told her that it must not matter. Reality is, that I am going to wear clothes and shoes that I feel comfortable wearing. Because when you are in your mid-fifties, you get to do that. I’d rather have heads not turning, rather than turning because I look ridiculous.