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Why Are Women So Hard On Themselves?

Last week I shared a photo of me from 1981 on Instagram and Facebook. It only showed me from the underarms up but I had makeup on and I’d obviously curled my hair. I was leaning over the sink, just finishing giving my 2 months old his bath in the kitchen sink. Remember those days? No fancy plastic tubs in our house… the child went from the kitchen sink to the bathtub.Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life at 24

Anyway, I commented that although I knew I was terribly sleep-deprived, I bothered with my appearance because that’s just the way I roll.

One commenter asked me if spending time to look “well turned out” was worth it, at the time.
Another said she was overweight after the birth of her children so didn’t make an effort.
This got me thinking about how different we all are.

I answered that yes, it was absolutely worth taking the time to fix myself up because that allowed me to feel better about myself. I had yet to shed my 65-pound pregnancy weight gain, but taking some small steps for my appearance helped boost my confidence.

This act of self-care is a shield against the darts life can throw at us. Even the ones we throw at ourselves. And why are we women so hard on ourselves?

Many women commented on how hard they had been on their younger selves and wished they hadn’t been. They thought they were too heavy then…except now they are much heavier, so why didn’t they appreciate themselves more then? And what will they be saying to their current self, in five, or ten years’ time – looking back?

Do we take shots at ourselves as a defense mechanism, before someone else gets the chance? Do we think that by lowering ourselves or making ourselves smaller – we’ll be encouraged to do or be “better”?

One woman commented – “why was I in such a hurry to grow up? Why didn’t I celebrate more of my youth?”

This has me thinking, about how we talk to ourselves, our daughters, each other. About the importance of positivity and loving ourselves for who we are, and now. Taking steps – whatever that looks like, to take care of ourselves. And not putting it off, or hurrying past.

What are your thoughts?

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50 Comments

  1. Linda L
    August 16, 2020 / 6:20 pm

    Late to the talk because we ventured out on a road trip north to Oregon. So glad we did because at our age we need to enjoy life when we can. Get up, get dressed, make your bed and go to work was the mantra I was raised on. Even now with the quarantine I wouldn’t think of not dressing and putting lipstick on. It’s not for others that I do this; it’s for me. No one in the grocery store really cares what I look like. People aren’t looking at you and evaluating your wardrobe. I was never very thin and although my weight has been redistributed, I weigh what I did in high school. When I look at old photos I wished I smiled more and so now when the camera is out I get my best grin on.

  2. Sue
    August 15, 2020 / 3:51 pm

    I think how we dress, do our hair or makeup are all part of our creative instincts. How we fix up our home is part of our nesting, protective instincts. I’d like to think I explore and exploit them to my benefit, being satisfied I’ve done my best with what life has given me.

  3. Carla
    August 13, 2020 / 3:34 am

    This was a very thoughtful piece, and very pertinent. It is making me think about why I’ve slowly stopped making the effort these days. Sure, I can blame it on the isolation of the pandemic, but is that what it really is?
    Back in March when I first started sheltering in place I bought some makeup online and the one thing that came out of it was bringing back some eyebrow to my face. Small thing but it made a huge difference if only to me.
    I have gained more weight since March than any of my normal fluctuations. This post may have given me permission to forgive myself for it and that in turn will give me some motivation to make small steps back to a more healthy weight without beating myself up.
    Your posts are upbeat, intuitive, inspirational and spot on. Now if only I could feel safe going shopping for some new clothes. Your posts offer such great ideas but shopping online is SO frustrating.
    Thank you, Jennifer, for being so supportive of us while you have so much going on in your own life. 💕💕

    • Jennifer
      Author
      August 13, 2020 / 7:07 am

      Be gentle with yourself Carla. If you don’t feel safe shopping outside, shop your closet and play with accessories to bring yourself joy. These are tough times for everyone. Be your own kindest friend.

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