Appearance..ugh

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Appearance..ugh

Postby anymomentinthewoods » September 8th, 2014, 1:34 am

I wanted to know if anybody else has problems with keeping up your appearance. I seem to have a big problem with it and I'm not sure how to handle it.

For my entire life, my mom has picked on how I look. For example, when I lived with her, she would grab my stomach and say "oh looks like we're getting fat". If I'm wearing something she doesn't approve of, she tells me I'm wearing "hobo clothes". The biggest point of contention is my hair. It doesn't matter what I do or how I try to take care of my hair, it just isn't right. I don't have the money nor do I want to get my hair professionally done right now. But every time we get on Skype, she pesters me about it. I can't really get her to stop and I think maybe that's why I don't always look my best? It's not that I'm a slob or anything. But I do like my pajamas and sometimes I do bare minimum to my hair. I don't clip my nails or wear make-up very often. And now other people have noticed that I don't take pride in my appearance as much as I should. I don't know how to motivate myself to change.

Do any of you have a problem with this or found a way to deal with it?
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby TinaMarie1234 » September 8th, 2014, 1:32 pm

If you haven't seen it yet, the thread about how long have you gone without showering might be of interest to you.

I too have a mother who constantly talked about how my hair did or didn't look - this while every 3-4 months taking me to her beautician's and getting my hair cut short enough that I frequently got called a boy. I would leave a hair cut crying every time. She also would require me to wear whatever geeky outfit she chose for school pictures. I am not sure that my slacker habits relate to her....I think college was the largest contributor. I've turned out to look quite a bit like her though.

I do make every attempt to allow my kids to choose their own clothes, unless the clothes show too much skin, and to allow them to choose their own hair and help take care of it without commenting about it. I do try to make positive comments about their hair and clothes as is appropriate. Meanwhile, my oldest does critique her younger siblings on how they look.

Not sure if this is helpful or not.
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby anymomentinthewoods » September 8th, 2014, 2:57 pm

No, it helps. I definitely have a similar reaction to getting my hair done professionally. I mean, now, I usually like the outcome but I can't stand it when anybody puts any heat near my hair. Most of the hair dressers I've been to are too rough with combing or don't quite listen when I say when I want. Up until I got to college, my mom chose how my hair would look too. I'd spend hours in the chair getting my hair braided or straightened. Hell, all sorts of chemicals in so it damaged my scalp. So now I barely even know how to take care of my hair myself. My mom never taught to help me and so I'm trying to learn as an adult. I'm sure I'm failing at it but I still try.

I'm glad that you give your kids a choice and a say in how they look. I can't describe how not having a choice or having one but being conditionally accepted messed with me. I constantly get down about how I look or don't try at all because I feel like I'm not worth it. I feel like my beauty is conditional and acceptance of how I look is conditional. By giving them that choice, you're helping to give them a sense of agency in their life and helping them with their self esteem and learning to choose.
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby TinaMarie1234 » September 9th, 2014, 6:43 am

Once I left the beautician that was in "cahoots" with my mom about her hair, I don't feel worried about going anymore, but I do tend to put beauty items off. I'm not a big makeup or hair cut person. I too have curly hair and have done some straightening, although it didn't damage my hair greatly. In fact, I did it recently along with some other changes and really enjoyed it while it lasted.

If you are African-American (the straightening of the hair part leads me to ask this question), you need to give yourself a lot of passes on appearance - the cost is astronomical, the amount of time is huge and the emotional/peer pressure is huge. I have two african american children. One has dreads and the other refuses to get them. While I said I let them choose their hair, I do and don't pester them. But I have secret dreams of the second one letting me get dreads to reduce time and expense-so far I have kept this to myself.

I know that the following suggestions are obvious, but wanted to see where you might have gone with these thoughts:
Have you considered texting/emailing your mom or calling instead of Skyping?
Have you tried forewarning her that you don't have to be anywhere in the near future, so you're worrying about your appearance later?
What do you say when your mom mentions your appearance?
Are you able to parse her argument/comments and the guilt inducing statements before you respond to her? (This is what I have trouble doing, but am working on).

I got so tired of hearing about my hair or things like cleaning my windows (for some reason, the move from the city to the suburbs made her start asking about this), that I would just plainly say that I didn't care about those things in response to her questions. Sometimes I would ask if she didn't have more important questions for me like, how are things going, do I like my job, am I happy, are the kids doing well, etc? Eventually, when she figured out that she couldn't make me feel guilty about things I didn't care about (or she got too tired of getting no good response from me), she quit asking about these things. Heck, she doesn't even comment on my kids' hair at this point, something that she did years ago.

Again, I thank you for your posting and hope that this is helpful.
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby TinaMarie1234 » September 9th, 2014, 6:50 am

One more thing that might be very obvious:
I have found a number of resources about hair braiding and care for my kids via yahoo and various websites. Have you tried any of these - if nothing else, it could give you a sense of foundation about your hair. I could send a few if they help.

Also, if you wanted to start getting experience on other people's hair - you could ask friends if you could help with their kids' hair - it takes so darn long that I'm sure they would be fine getting help braiding and styling hair and could give you a lot pointers. Lacking friends with kids who have hair like yours, you could try it on yourself. I'm still fairly new to all of it, as I have my child's hair done a lot, but I am comfortable with a large portion of the part prior to braiding-undoing, combing through, conditioning, conditioning, conditioning, combing out, combing out, combing out, as well as basic braids 2-3 styles).

Anyway, I hope that this was helpful.
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby anymomentinthewoods » September 9th, 2014, 2:07 pm

I am African American and I would love any resources you think would help. You're right, it's expensive and difficult to deal with black hair. I wish that I could have learned from my mom how to take care of my hair but mostly what I've cobbled together is from some websites and talking to other people. Probably not combing my hair out right either. I'm especially at a loss because I'm in England, a part of England where there aren't many people of color or places to get supplies for my hair. I've had to order a lot of them online and I don't have enough money to get my hair done right now either.

In terms of how I handle my mom's comments. Skype and email are the only ways that we communicate. I've been slowly decreasing the amount of time we spend talking to each other because I'm not comfortable with how long and how much. We don't do video chat as often anymore either, as I'm trying to avoid some of the comments. We are connected in ways that I hate. Before I left, she told me that she's "addicted" to me and I really don't like that. I also get comments like you got about the state of the house or things like that. It seems like I'm never good enough for her. When she makes comments like that or things about how I should be "trying harder", I laugh it off or try to ignore her. I will tell her to stop doing something and she will listen for a while and then start over again after a while, like she "forgot". I don't really know how to set boundaries from here but I know being away, in another country, is a good start. I have a hard time thinking through her comments because my first reaction is to freeze and feel bad. I definitely need to work on that. I like the idea of telling her that I don't care and shutting her down that way.

I just want some peace and I really do want to look good. But I like how you said it, I'm slow to doing these sorts of things and I feel like I'm never good enough at it.
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby oak » September 14th, 2014, 3:00 pm

If I may offer the perspective of a heterosexual male (because yeah, that is what the world needs more of).

First up, from what you wrote you seem like a kind, lovely person. As far as the boundaries that your mother is blurring, yeah, that is a tough situation. I hope that continues to get better.

I see several threads in the tapestry that is your post, some threads implied.

I was just talking with a young woman this week about that very topic: hair. We agreed that hair washed every other day, perhaps every third day is va va voom! Overly processed/overly washed hair just doesn't look... natural. And men like "the natural look" (since I am now speaking for all men, apparently).

IME, I draw a line between the related hygiene and grooming. A minimum sort of hygiene is needed, and this depends on each culture.

As far as pjs: I am a total jerk for admitting this, but it is true, so true:

I worked retail for some years, and I honored and respected customers in pjs, "bad" clothes, and "inappropriate" clothes with kind, quick, efficient service. These customers kept me employed.

But I never went out of my way to help them, unless they proved themselves very kind.

Now a well dressed man or woman, someone who looked like they were something, I was certain to go out of my way to help them. (Again, unless they proved themselves jerks, in which case I stopped going out of my way for them.)

I notice the same thing: when I go out in jeans, unshaven I am just another guy in peoples' way. But if I shave, put some gel in my hair, and wear a sport coat and tie, then it is all "Yes sir!" and opened doors.

(I do this every time I go to the BMV.)

Which is just a super long way of saying that your worth and dignity are separate from your clothing. But in practice, the respect and deference one receives does indeed depend greatly on one's clothes, so choose carefully.

Is this fair, right, or just? Absolutely not. Does it happen all the time? Absolutely.

Please forgive my unclarity. I wish I could be more helpful. I do offer this perspective humbly, problematic as my assumptions are.

Also, if anyone tried to touch my stomach there would drama. I am amazed that people see a woman's body as something that can be touched at any time without permission.

Keep us posted! I hope things work out for you.
"Work is love made visible." -Kahlil Gibran

"What is better: to be born good or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?" -Skyrim
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby TinaMarie1234 » September 15th, 2014, 5:57 am

Quick post for a few resources - again, some of these might be a bit obvious, but I wanted to post anyway:
http://www.chocolatehairvanillacare.com/
This is a hair care website mostly for non-black adoptive moms. What might be good about this site is that it assumes you know nothing about black hair care and covers a wide variety of tasks that you need to do as well as discusses hassle, products, style, etc. (FYI-searches along the range of adoption & black hair seems to pull up a bunch of sites)

Also, consider any number of you tube searches, like:
african hair braiding
black hair care (there will be a bunch of subcategories to this)

Both the you tube posts and the chocolate/vanilla site will have lots of instructional videos to help you along the way. Remember that it takes years to learn many of these things and provide yourself with patience.

I'll try to find a few more if I remember some of the earlier ones I found. Good luck,
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Re: Appearance..ugh

Postby anymomentinthewoods » September 18th, 2014, 4:57 am

Thanks, oak, for your reply. I definitely struggle with a mix of wanting people to take me seriously and wanting control over how I look but I don't trust myself because of the blurred lines with my mom. I definitely agree with you, I don't get why women's bodies are seen as open season. I stood up to my mom about my hair yesterday and she said that she tells me these things/does these things because how others see me is important. But, as I pointed out to her, all it does is make me feel unimportant. When I need to look professional or nice, I definitely do that and make sure that I represent myself properly. But when I'm at home or just hanging out, I have such a lack of motivation. I don't feel beautiful or like I can be trusted about my appearance. It's a vicious cycle of crap.

TinaMarie, thank you for the link and the advice. I checked out the website and it has a lot of helpful information that I'm sure I can use in the future. I also told my mom flat out that I didn't care about what she thought about my hair and, for the moment, she's backed off. Now I'm trying to just take care of myself and foster my self-esteem.
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Issues: bipolar disorder II, OCD, anxiety, depression, loneliness
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