Here's a sweet little picture of my husband and kids at schoolhouse beach on Washington Island off the tip of the Door County peninsula, where we took a mini-vacation last weekend. The cool thing about this beach is all the rocks; they are bits of limestone worn smooth by the water. It's not easy to walk barefoot on a beach made of rocks, but they are fun to skip in the water and stack into piles.

Stuart and I each took a brief swim in Lake Michigan. "Brief" is the operative word here because yama hama was the water cold! You can see  the orange diving raft in the picture below. I swam directly to it, and directly back, and the whole time I was gasping for air like a goose being strangled because the cold water made my throat muscles seize up.

This is the only picture of me from the whole trip that I like, and I think it's because you can't see my face or stomach...which brings me to the title of this post and my real topic for the day (you guys don't really want to see vacation photos, do you? We had fun, the kids were cute, blah blah blah, end of story).

The thing is, I don't put a whole lot of effort into how I look, and it really shows. I rarely go clothes shopping, and when I do, it's usually to pick up a few t-shirts to replace the ones with holes/stains/ripped hems. I don't own a zillion pairs of shoes; I own a few pairs of shoes, almost all of them meant for being outdoors (flip-flops, snow boots, rain boots, running shoes, it runs the gamut, really). I get my hair cut about 2-3 times per year and it's usually up in a ponytail. Except for a tube of mascara I picked up a couple of months ago, I believe the last time I bought make-up was when I was pregnant with Anya and everyone thought I had a skin condition because my face was so red all the time.

I do put a fair amount of effort into staying healthy and fit, but that's not quite the same.

I was at the school of music for most of the day today accompanying scholarship auditions. During a few minutes of downtime I was chatting with two other seasoned accompanists, both more than a decade older than I am. They were discussing their aging bodies, needs for bifocals and the occasional steroid shot in the elbow (I'm not there yet, but as bad as my eyesight is, I'm sure bifocals are in my future!) "How old are you?" I asked my one colleague, who is in terrific shape and looks  like he could be anywhere between 25 and 40. He had to think for a minute. "I'm turning 47 this August," he finally answered, to which I replied, "But I have more gray hair than you do!" "Oh, this is fake," he said, without missing a beat, and the other pianist, who also looks pretty awesome, said "Everybody fakes it!"

This shocked me. I guess everyone dyes the gray out of their hair now? Even men? (And this guy, I might add, is not at all fussy or particular about how he looks, as far as I can tell, which is why I was so surprised.) Should I be trying harder? The few pictures of me (I'm usually the one behind the camera) from last weekend make me think so.

Is this vanity talking here? Am I vain to assume I don't need to try harder? Would it be vain to actually try harder? I just don't know. I do know that these are superficial questions, but I have them all the same.


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Jessi said…
I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. For a long time, I didn't spend too much time on my looks, because I honestly didn't care. The older I get and the more ragged I'm run as the kids get older and develop their own interests, the more I realize that looking good makes me feel better. And that's worth it at this stage in my life. I still don't do much - I brushed my hair after I got to work this morning. But I make little changes to how I look that make me feel better. I think gray hair rocks, though.
ann said…
I honestly just typed up my whole history with vanity, but gosh! How vain am I to think anybody would want to read that! I'll sum up. I agree with Jessi.
JoyMama said…
Vanity of vanities!

I kind of figure that I've earned my gray. I've wavered from time to time, but in general my decision not to dye is something of a permanent personal protest.

Rather like the fact that I stopped shaving my legs in 1987... :-)
Amanda said…
I often think that I somehow missed the part of growing up where you learn about how to care about the way you look. But seriously, who has time for makeup, hair, jewelry... I'd rather be doing almost anything else!
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