Self-care. Seems like a pretty intuitive concept, yet many (myself included) are quick to put it off. While exercising is a fundamental and fairly obvious way to perform “self-care,” there are smaller habits and rituals that I often forget.
Toweling off from a shower one day, I opened my dresser and sleepily grabbed the most comfortable looking gym shorts, didn’t bother with a bra and slipped a baggy t-shirt and sweat-shirt over my head. Too lazy to moisturize my face, or massage lotion onto my sore thighs and calves, I put on the quickest outfit possible and went straight to the kitchen to prepare food. Running makes my body look athletic, sure. But apart from the aesthetic, I surprisingly don’t do much else when it comes to my appearance. Which is fine most of the time, but upon reflection, I realized that if someone asked my what my style was, I would probably reply, “baggy shorts and loose t-shirts.” As a twenty-one-year-old living in California, I suddenly realized maybe I should do a little better. I finished scrambling my eggs then proceeded to brush my hair and apply mascara.
I get down on myself (often) about not looking a certain way, not feeling pretty or put together, and I realized that I have only myself to blame. Beauty isn’t ordained by the quality of your clothes and aesthetic isn’t dictated by how good you are at applying makeup. But making an effort, albeit a small one, can go a long way. Putting on an outfit that makes you feel sexy is a sure-fire way to boost your confidence, and coming from someone who thinks shopping at Target is both fashionable and economical, that’s saying something. The saying, “Look good, feel good,” really does carry some weight.
My brother once dated a girl with the most gorgeous style. Always keen to shop at a vintage store, but never one to shrug off a good find at Forever 21, I remember looking at her and thinking, wow, I wish I could dress like you. It seemed effortless to her, and I asked her a pretty simple question, where did you start? She told me something I still think about today. She said to buy a few nice basic pieces; a great pair of jeans, a few tops (to match with universally any bottoms), a couple of dresses and a nice coat to wear over anything. From there she said to explore and try things that make you feel confident and beautiful and unique. Be brave with your style she would say, but lest you not forget that it’s the personality underneath it all that will make you look the best.
When Tula and my brother dated, it was at the height of my eating disorder. I felt lost and unattractive and like I was worth about as much as a piece of dirt. After spending a few months in the hospital, I had lost a majority of my friends, and my days were spent figuring out ways to avoid meals or getting anxious about what my mom was cooking. All my (former) friends were off hanging out together, their biggest worry was boys. My brother’s girlfriend was the first person to notice me. She would invite me to tag along with them wherever they went. She took me to Cafe Gratitude one day for lunch in the middle of the summer, and it was the first meal I remember having after being discharged from the hospital where I was excited about eating. The three of us ordered so much food, and not feeling any pressure to eat it all, simply enjoyed what was in front of us because it tasted good, and not because of pre-ordained nutritional benefits. I left the cafe feeling like maybe everything was going to be alright.
Tules made everything we did feel like an adventure. Going to the super-market was surprisingly fun, driving around town in her convertible mini-cooper, blasting summer music had me feeling mature and cool. We would star-gaze at her house in Tiburon and make tea and eat cookies under the moon. She had this loud, boisterous laugh that was absolutely contagious, and for the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt important.
She’s someone that can hold a conversation with anyone. Always quick with a witty reply, aggressively loyal and extremely intelligent, she chooses her relationships carefully and invests her energy in them. One night she came over and did my makeup, as I was getting ready to go to one of the first Bat-Mitzvahs of the season. Carefully applying layers of eye-shadow, gliding blush across my cheeks, Tula took her time, meticulously contouring the sides of my face. When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t really believe what I saw. I felt transformed. But above that, I really felt beautiful.
You absolutely don’t need makeup to feel, look, and act like a queen. Running up the side of a mountain makes me feel like a power-babe, and for that reason, I adore the fact that my thighs are so muscular there isn’t room for a gap. But sometimes getting my nails done and straightening my hair also gives me confidence.
Fortunate for me, my brother and her are still close friends, and thankfully as am I. One thing she always did (and reminded me to do) was to get manicures. It’s a small outing, but so much of our expression and work comes from our hands, that when you look down and can feel confident and happy with the color on your nails (or the lack of pesky cuticles loitering around them) if it makes you smile, it’s absolutely worth it.
So go get a manicure. Go run up the side of a mountain. Spend a little extra time in child’s pose or treat yourself to a coconut flat white. Do things that make you feel like a #girlboss (phenomenal podcast, please listen to it), and most importantly be a good role model for not only the other women in your life, but to yourself as well, and I promise you will come away with a heightened level of self-confidence.