Yes, I have a confession to make again. I'm an extremely vain person. I've known this about myself for years. But my vanity is not the "Wow I'm so hot!" type. In fact it's just the opposite. I'm vain because of the money, time and energy I devote to trying to be slimmer, younger and better looking.
I have been blessed with the five greatest sisters on the planet. And cursed because they're all cuter than me. It was devastating in high school to watch my younger sisters getting asked out by seniors when they weren't even in high school, let alone old enough to date. And yet, I couldn't get a date to save my life. My very first date I had to ask the guy out. (And it was the 4th guy I asked, who went to a different school that finally said yes.)
I'm not having a pity party, and I'm not asking for sympathy. If anything the experiences of having five beautiful sisters has made me more determined than ever to be worthy of being photographed next to them.
And yet, that is the problem. Even though I've had a skin care routine that I love and will never depart from, I'm always willing and ready to drop big money on the lastest mask, scrub or microderm just to see if it will make a difference. I spend hours at the gym trying to burn off the pounds that packed on during my first two years of marriage when my metabolism slowed and I was eating "normal" meals for the first time in my life. I tan, I wax, color my hair, get my nails done, give myself pedicures, get facials, count calories (although I don't usually alter my eating habits, it's more to find out how many calories I'm actually taking in, than to change anything about what I'm eating) and spend more time at the gym than with my husband.
And somehow I'm still the old, short, plump sister in all of Jesse & Skye's wedding photos. Let me demonstrate:
Does Shiloh even look old enough to have six children? Not at all. Especially since she doesn't look like she's had even one! And no this picture was not taken when she was a 19 year old newlywed. This photo was taken just this Easter as a 29 year old mother of six. (Her youngest was born in December. Seriously, it's not fair!)
In high school Cami always got told she looked like Brittany Spears. Although that's not nearly the compliment now that it was in '99, it's easy to see that her looks have faired even better than Brittany's. It should not be legal for a pregnant woman to be so cute!
Between the pageants and the magazine cover, there's never been any question that Jesse's a knockout.
I've always thought that Skye should be the "Noxema Girl." She's got a perfect complexion and a fresh-faced beauty that I've always envied. She's the only sister that's shorter than me, but she's petite all over, so it's very cute. (She's also smarter than me, which is another thorn in my side, but I'll save that for a later post.)
And then there's Hillary. With piercing blue eyes and china doll features, she's easily the most striking of all the girls. She's so statuesque that her looks remind me of the runway models you see in Vogue. (And she doesn't look only 19 in any of her pictures.)
I also have the cutest and funniest brother on the planet, but this post is about the girls. Besides, I've already dedicated several posts to Cody.
I'm so proud of all of my sisters. I could go on for days about their beauty and their accomplishments. And that's why I have this problem. I feel like I don't belong in this bevy of beautiful girls. I'm out of place in the family I'm so proud of. I'm the oldest, and of course there's nothing I can do about that. I'm the shortest (save for Skye) but unlike Skye I'm not petite. And I weigh the most. (I even weigh more than Shiloh at full pregnancy weight.) So while my sisters enter the prime of their life and maintain their youthful glow and perfect metabolism, I'm fighting crows feet, cellulite, and thanks to a cruel trick by mother nature, more blemishes than I had as a teenager. (I mean, wrinkles I can handle, acne I can handle, but come on! Both at the same time! That's just plain mean!)
With Gideon it's become harder to maintain the high maintenance lifestyle I'd grown accustomed to. But instead of changing my ways, I'm sacrificing precious nap time to keep with my many beauty regimes. Since he's been born, I've still never once left the house without full make-up and hair.
The thing is that part of me doesn't want to change. I like to feel pretty. I don't usually have a good day when I know I don't look good. And I feel my absolute best in stillettos and red salsa lipstick. My self esteem, while not solely dependent on my physical appearance, is still tied to it. I know it's a lot of work, but it's what I have to do to feel like I have a chance at belonging to this family. And the other part of me doesn't know how to change. I've worked in the corporate world for so long that I really don't own many "weekend" clothes. T-shirts and jeans are great but I don't have that many (and after 4 weeks at home I'm sick of what I do have. I miss my stillettos and city shorts and red salsa lipstick.) I don't know how to start my day without "putting my face on." I don't know how to end it without night cream and eye serum. I've done my beauty routines for so long that they're just part of who I am. Same thing with how I dress. I feel like a bum wearing jeans and t-shirts everyday.
But I can't help but wonder if people look at me sometimes and say (as I've said about other people before) "Wow that lady is trying way too hard."
And today I find myself asking if it's worth it. Or if my vanity will eventually ruin me. Because when I look in the mirror each evening I still see crow's feet. And those lines on my nose and forehead from squinting too much. I see hair that probably should have been cut years ago. Nails that no other mom to a newborn has. And a body that's disciplined and very strong, but refuses to be slim.
I see a 30 year old woman who still has the same fears she's had since jr. high. That with such beautiful younger sisters, no one will even notice her.