This has hands down been one of the hardest posts I’ve written, not because it is a highly controversial topic or anything, just something I know I struggle with. I’ve written and rewritten this post at least half a dozen times in the past few weeks. It also seemed to go in a direction that I wasn’t planning on going in. I really wanted to focus on the mental, emotional side, and found more information on how to make yourself look more beautiful on the outside. It’s such a delicate balance between the two, and really you need to have one to have the other, don’t you think?
The idea for the post all started when Julia at Pontifications of a Twin Mom (Thank you Julia!) started a discussion in the BlogFrog Community, “Do you struggle to feel beautiful in your new body?” and it really got me thinking. It’s something that I’m sure all of us have gone through, I know I have, so I put out the question to the experts, “How can Moms feel more beautiful about themselves?”. I’m not going to lie, I got some strange responses (like using dental floss….seriously) but for the most part I got a lot of great tips.
I know one of my biggest struggles in my new body was how to dress it, especially in that crazy limbo period where maternity clothes were too big, but my old clothes didn’t fit. Personal stylist, Silfath Pinto, sent over some amazing tips that are perfect for everyone to use in their daily life. For someone with a small bust,you might realize after your pregnancy that your bust is smaller. In order to create the illusion of a fuller bust, pick tops and blouses with ruffles, rushing, pockets and big bows around the breast. Here are some great tops:
If you click on the photos you can see all the details on the tops from Anthropologie.
But the most common issue Silfath sees with young moms is the tummy control. There are several techniques to mitigate post pregnancy tummy. DISTRACT. Prints are an excellent way to trick the eye as the movement distracts from the tummy. COMPETE. If you like to make statement pick a top with one stand out detail, some kind of drama, or a statement necklace. CAMOUFLAGE. Flowy tops will bring an elegant touch to any outfit. Think empire waist shape too as they also define the smallest part of your body. See few examples below from one my favorite stores in NY, Anthropologie:
The necklace is something you can use to compete and the tank is something you can use to camouflage.
For curvy hips, it is a 2-step approach: mitigating the hips with dark colors and slight A line shapes while bringing all the focus on top with colors, prints, statement necklaces, bows… etc… Here is a before and after of one of Silfath’s clients, all of the tops in the after can work for her 2-step approach:
Some other great tips, in regards to styling, I received are from Kirin Christianson, founder of RedHauteMama.com – a site that teaches moms to feel amorous, glamorous, and flat out fabulous. Kirin’s top 3 ways to instantly look thinner without going to the gym are:
* Match 2 out of 3 (hem, hose, heels) to look taller, toned and pulled together. Skin toned shoes are especially great at making your legs look a mile high.
* Wear heels. Even a 1″ kitten heel makes you feel sexier, elongates your leg, and makes your legs and but look firmer
* Avoid foods that are common bloaters – wheat, eggs, dairy. It can take up to 72 hours after eating to get bloated, but if you have a sensitivity to any of these foods, you will look (and feel) heavier than you really are.
I’m 5’11 so I usually don’t wear crazy high heels, but I am a HUGE fan of kitten heels. They are such a mood booster, plus there’s something powerful about the sounds of heels clicking on the floor.
Something else that can totally change how you feel is jewelry. Jennifer, a Stella & Dot stylist and triplet MoM, told me about how someone came up to her and told her how fabulous she looked and she was only in a t-shirt and jeans, but the jewelry took it to the next level. She also had a laugh because she said, “If they only knew I hadn’t showered in two days!”. For our family photos this year I ran out of time before we had to be at the location so I had to ‘settle’ for a plain t-shirt from Target to wear, while everyone else in my family seemed to look fabulous. I threw on a simple necklace and BAM it was like a whole new outfit. Now everyone that got my Christmas card knows I only spent $5 on my top.
Keeping with the theme of “styling” yourself, let’s talk makeup, shall we? Pre-kids I was a MAC girl all the way and took my time perfecting what I looked like. Now I do what I can get done the fastest, while still looking presentable. While researching this article I was introduced to BOOM! By Cindy Joseph a new line of multipurpose makeup. How I have never seen these before is beyond me, these are perfect for us MoM’s! BOOMSTICK Color is quick, convenient, and can be used on cheeks, eyes and lips. Best part: there is no need to choose a shade!
Now I know everything shouldn’t be about our outward appearance when it comes to beauty, a lot of it is internal and what we think that effects what we see. This really hit home when I was flipping through one of my parenting magazines and saw an interview with Nigel Barker (fashion photographer, hunky judge on America’s Next Top Model) about being a dad. He briefly talked about his wife and how he asked her to never lose her stretch marks because they will always be a reminder of their children and that it’s beautiful. I was struck by that because here is this man who is a fashion photographer and works with beautiful women all the time, and he thinks stretch marks are a thing of beauty. I had never looked at my stretch marks and thought, wow these are awesome. I’ve always worried about what Scott thought about them, and if he was turned off by the appearance, so I brought the quote to him and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when he agreed, whole heartily. I’m still working on the part about changing the way I think about them, but I thought the quote was amazing. I think about it, and Nigel Barker, daily now.
Something else that seems to, for lack of a better phrase, kill two birds with one stone, is exercise. Now I know trying to fit in exercise with multiples running around is crazy, but it’s possible. After I started really working out again it was amazing what it did for my mood, my attitude towards myself and obviously my body. Kara, mom of 7 year old twins, and author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom, gave me these tips for working out with your kids:
For starters, have a few trusty exercise dvds or apps for at-home workouts. For instance today, I made it through an entire yoga dvd while my 2-year-old son tried attaching himself to me in various poses. It made for an extra core workout, I think. My daughters, the 7-year-old twins and a 5-year-old have grown up with me doing this workout and now they like to do it themselves. The real reward was on a snow day recently when one daughter *asked* to do the yoga tape herself. She did and it was the reward for all my persistence. Truly, they do as you do, not as you say.
A winter favorite is attaching a sled to my waist and hauling the kids around the neighborhood. I’ve done this with all three girls in a sled. I got strange looks from my neighbors. So what. I recently posted a video about doing this, my son is the fitness model: http://mamasweat.blogspot.com/2011/01/mama-sweat-winter-workout.html
We have an unfinished basement that doubles as a workout room and we’ve had our own mini “boot camp.” They love doing mountain climbers, so we do lots of those. I let them “lift weights” with light dumbbells. In the summer we do mini workouts on the play set and are always on our bikes. I know that when I workout with the kids it’s not going to be the intensity I would normally aspire to on my own, but the trade off is that they’re experiencing fitness with me. I know as a parent I’m their fitness role model for now and by working out as a family they’re more likely to grow up to exercise themselves.. So, I may not burn as many calories, but I still find value in it.
Signing the family up for a fun run is another great way to train together and anticipate a fun family event. For the most part this is fun for everyone (this was an instance where it wasn’t: http://mamasweat.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-first-race-guest-post-from-boy.html).
In my book, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom we devote two chapters to working out with kids: “Joined at the Hip: Exercise Strategies for Babies and Toddlers” and “Child’s Play: Exercise Strategies for Older Kids and Children with Special Needs.” Along with the obvious (double jogging strollers and bike trailers) moms can get a workout in while their kids do their fit thing. If you have kids taking a dance class, go for a walk or find an empty studio for some yoga poses (and by all means invite the other moms sitting around in the waiting room to join you!). Perhaps take a lesson at the same time your children have a swimming, rock climbing, karate or snowboarding class. You can learn at the same time and compare notes. Right now my girls and I are all in swim classes and learning the butterfly stroke at the same time. I love being on the same playing field with them.
I know this is a complex topic, and all of us have our own ways to make ourselves feel beautiful, but I hope these tips are helpful. So I will leave you with this question: