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Moms, We Need to Stop Being Our Own Worst Critics

Photograph by Twenty20

There is something very hard about being a woman and the truth of it is this: We all judge each other, even when we try not to.

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We do it and we know we do it. I did it this morning as I looked at the newscaster's neck and read that tell-tale sign of an aging woman, that glimpse into my near-coming future. Even when I watched "Mother's Day" and my first thought was, dang Jennifer Aniston looks old! It's a fear of what will happen to me, I know that, but that doesn't stop me from cringing a bit when I see a once conventionally beautiful woman lose those looks that I have spent too much time wishing I could have, too. Too much make-up, not enough make-up, cares too much about her appearance, doesn't care enough. Whatever the judgment, there's always the same message for women: It doesn't matter what you look like, but it does if you're not caring because you're depressed or a new mom squandering in her sweatpants.

I'm tired of constantly trying to evaluate if I'm 'good enough,' because you know what? I'm not.

The point is, I feel frustrated. I feel frustrated because on some basic level, it seems like appearance does matter. I feel frustrated because I think that kind of social conditioning doesn't go away overnight and it will take a lot longer than talking about it for a few years to really change us on the inside. I feel frustrated because my daughters are already affected. Already, I watch them twisting and turning in the mirror, frowning with the appearance that is reflected back to them. Already, I know they are judging what they see, based on what they think the world wants of them.

Is anyone else just sick and tired of being a woman sometimes? Sigh.

The smallest things feel ridiculous to me. Just recently, I was considering getting eyelash extensions after a friend of mine got them. She looked fabulous and I was feeling the need for a "change" after having a miscarriage. Because the quickest way to show the world you're doing OK is through looks, right?

On one level, I'm like, What kind of sick world am I living in that I would voluntarily stick things that look like spider legs to my eyelids?! And on the other, I'm thinking, Well it would be nice to skip make-up for a while, right? Nothing wrong with doing something to help you feel good!

We have twisted and distorted what it means to be a woman by what we look like. Even a presidential candidate for our country is able to openly comment on a woman's appearance in "locker room" talk and women are still defending him because that's just how the world works.

Overall, I think the whole topic is hard for women because not only are we victims of it, but we are also perpetrators of it. We are our own harshest critics. We are the ones who look at our bodies after giving birth, disgusted by the flap of skin that now sits on our stomachs. We are the ones who push our husbands away, hating the way our once-perky boobs flop to the side. We are the ones who measure our merit by where we stand in the line-up of appearance in the room. We are the ones who, as mothers, struggle with how to teach our daughters that they are more than how they look in a culture that definitely tells us otherwise.

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The bottom line is that I'm tired of the charade and I'm tired of constantly trying to evaluate if I'm "good enough," because you know what? I'm not. I have horrible hair that won't hold a curl, I honest-to-goodness didn't know women were supposed to care about their eyebrows until last year, and I require more deodorant than my husband. So, nope, not looking good most days over here. But women who are nothing like me, who always look polished and perfect, deserve to do whatever they want to do to feel good for themselves without judgment either. Whether you're rocking the Alicia Keys no make-up look or going full Kyle Kardashian in your make-up doesn't matter, as long as you don't second-guess yourself or compare yourself to any other woman in the world.

Because until we can learn to not judge our own appearances, how on earth will we change the culture to stop women from being judged on their appearance?

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