My Appearance Doesn’t Owe You Anything

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My Appearance Doesn't Owe You AnythingThe gradual simplification of my morning routine began when I became a mother, accelerated with each additional kid, and was fully realized during the pandemic. But even I reached a new milestone this past weekend when I wore pajamas pants into a busy grocery store on a Sunday morning. I didn’t really intend for it to happen, thinking I was just headed on a drive through errand. When I remembered I needed something essential at the grocery store, I decided I’d rather just run in wearing pajamas than have to make another trip out. As I walked quickly up and down the aisles, passing other customers obviously wearing their church clothes, I had to keep repeating the phrase that has become something of a mantra for me in recent years: my appearance doesn’t owe you anything.

I’ve come to realize that so much of the beauty and fashion industries are built off of us trying to make ourselves more visually appealing to others. For the most part, we are not the ones looking at ourselves, except for the occasional glance in the mirror or reflection in a passing window. So all the makeup, hair products, shapewear, concealers, correctors, etc., etc., are designed to affect the outward image we are presenting to others. When we feel ashamed or embarrassed or apologetic about our bodies, we are essentially saying we owe it to others to make sure our appearance doesn’t make them uncomfortable or cause them displeasure when viewing it.

And I’ve decided I am whole-heartedly rejecting that.

One of my favorite books about body image issues, More Than a Body by Lexie and Lindsay Kite, contains the life changing line: “Your body in an instrument, not an ornament.” When you remove the idea that the purpose of your physical body is to be a piece of art for others to consume, you free yourself to use your physical body for so many more wonderful, creative, truly artistic things.

So I don’t care if you don’t like looking at the wiry gray hairs I’ve decided not to dye, sprouting wildly along my part. I don’t care if you think the zit that’s popped up right between my eyebrows looks ridiculous. I don’t care if you make assumptions about me and my family’s finances based on the fact that the shirt I’m wearing has a giant hole in the armpit. I don’t even care if you make a judgment about my carnival striped pajama pants in the grocery store on a Sunday morning.

None of those things define who I am as a person. They don’t tell the story of what I’m passionate about, how I treat those I love, where I choose to intentionally spend my money, or what I do for my community. I make commitments to others through my time and money and actions.

But I don’t owe a pleasing appearance to anyone.

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Hi! I’m Sara, former early childhood teacher turned stay at home mom to two girls and a boy (2013, 2016, and 2018). My husband and I got married in 2010 and are both ETSU alumni. Despite being born here, I grew up all over the country as the daughter of a military family, only finally moving back to the area in 2014. The mountains of East Tennessee were calling us home! I love all that Knoxville has to offer young families in the way of festivals, events, outdoorsy adventures and charm. When we’re not striking off on a weekend excursion to the Farmer’s Market or a new hiking spot, I can be found in my kitchen nurturing a semi-professional baking obsession or curled in the living room with a book. I love getting to write for and be part of this supportive community of moms!

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