This week, I looked in the mirror and hardly recognised the face that looked back at me. It’s the first time I’ve been genuinely disappointed with my reflection. It also happens to be the week I turn 30. Before I get into this, I am absolutely not writing a post to fish for compliments or comments about how ageing is just a natural part of life. I am writing this to expose my honest feelings about my physical appearance and remind anyone out there feeling the same way not to feel guilty about caring what you look like on the outside.
I’ve always thought I wouldn’t care too much about ageing and would be happy to wrinkle and go grey when it came to me – beauty is on the inside etc. But that always seemed to be something I’d worry about in future. Now the cracks are starting to show and I’ve been surprised at how much it bothers me. It’s coupled with the physical impact of carrying two children. Hormones which granted me glowing skin and lustrous hair in my second trimesters now give me a greasy mop, which is somehow also frizzy, and zits more appropriate of my teenage years. The skin on my body is stretchy, creased and scarred with silver lines, giving away the toll of pregnancy. There are permanent dark circles under my eyes, wrinkles when I smile and lines across the bridge of my nose that I actually thought were dirt when I first noticed them.
I’m certain that parenting has accelerated the onset of these signs. When you have a baby, it’s really easy to feel like your body no longer belongs to you. Pregnancy takes over your entire body, then whichever way the baby comes out, it makes an impact on exit. A combination of feeding, sleepless nights, rocking to sleep, pushing a pram, lugging a car seat, endless laundry and excessive hand washing all add up to feeling like your physical self is purely there for the service of others.
The end of that period for me has just happened to coincide with a milestone birthday. Nearly 4 years after I first became pregnant, I can now start to see a point where my body is my own again. I can begin to take care of it for me, not for others. But the body I’ve been left with isn’t the one I remember. I’m sure I will learn to love the new me and embrace the changes as maturity and wisdom in physical form (or something like that). Ultimately, raising a happy, healthy family and enjoying the life I have is the most important thing. For now, I’m just going to accept that I don’t love what I look like and try not to feel guilty or shallow because of it. It’s certainly not going to stop me enjoying a crisp glass of birthday bubbles. 30, bring it on…