There was a time when I felt naked without earrings. That time was this morning, to be exact. Home-based baby activities may not really be conducive to wearing sparkly, dangly things, but I still rarely leave the house without embellished ears. I have this one pair of earrings that has become special. Whereas countless other pairs have lost their mates in one of my many moves, become oxidized or bent or fallen off-trend, this particular pair has survived and thrived. They are long and shiny, and I reserve them for special occasions of the fun kind. They can make an outfit feel a little more special and make me feel just a little more dressed up or young or fun. Needless to say, this special pair hasn’t gotten much wear in the last 9.5 months.
Recently, I had an occasion for which these favorite earrings were perfect – a concert in NYC with my husband. Of course, being the mom of a wiggly, wobbly 9-month-old, I didn’t have the time or foresight to prepare for this all way in advance. On the day of the concert, I was catching a 3:55 train, my parents were arriving at 3:30, and around 3:00 I realized I had better figure out what I was wearing. I settled on jeans and a top that I felt were a good balance of comfort and style and looked myself up and down several times in the full-length mirror. Was it flattering enough? Was it stylish enough? Was it too obvious that I was a mom? My daughter offered, “dah-goong” from the bed. She was right – it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough. I fished my special earrings out of my jewelry box and called it an outfit.
By the time my parents arrived, I was agitated and uncomfortable. I didn’t want to go to the concert – it was too much of a hassle, we’d get home way too late, the crowd would be too young, I didn’t have the right clothes, this wasn’t my scene. Honestly, if I didn’t have the tickets in my possession and this didn’t mean so much to my husband, I wouldn’t have gone, but I begrudgingly tromped out, letting the door slam closed behind me.
My discomfort only grew as I arrived in the city. I made my way through the crowd in and around Grand Central Station and silently took stock of other women I saw. That’s one thing about New York – in a matter of seconds you are flooded with visual data on hundreds of other people. New Yorkers always seem so confident to me, and this attractive quality shines through regardless of how objectively stylish, how conventionally pretty, or how perfectly shaped the people are. As I self-consciously pulled at my top and fiddled with my earrings, I wondered why I’m not so self-assured. I briefly considered ducking into a store to change up my outfit, when suddenly I got inspired. In a move I never saw coming, I took my special, favorite fun-time earrings off. After the initial lightness – nakedness – wore off, it was confirmed. As it turned out, my earrings had been weighing me down.
I’m not sure if this really has anything to do with motherhood, but it is something I have only come to know as I have done the soul-searching and self-finding of a first time mom. This wasn’t me realizing that my earrings were out of style or that I didn’t like them or that I was too old for them. It was the realization that I didn’t need them, that they were just another extraneous weight. That I was actually better unadorned, more myself. Beauty doesn’t come from a shiny piece of metal, a swath of silk, a thigh gap, a full lip. It comes from being comfortable in your own skin. Sure, this may come more easily to those who are conventionally attractive, but ladies, this idea is out there for each of us to grab. Embellishments don’t make us more beautiful. We are our own embellishments.
My husband and I had a wonderful time at the concert. It wasn’t the wild and crazy night that it might have been years ago, but I found myself able to let go of my daily stresses for a little while and enjoy being with my husband. We danced and talked, and we kept saying, “We need to do this more often!” I didn’t feel too old or too fat or frumpy – I didn’t even think about how I looked. And I did it all without my crutch earrings.
Ladies, we are all beautiful. I encourage you, let your true self shine through. Be your own embellishment today.