The Natural Look


naturalface1Women know just how difficult it is using makeup to achieve “the natural look.” That dewy, fresh-faced appearance of having just stepped out of the shower takes painstaking application and plenty of time. The principle holds true for hair and clothing styles as well. I used to drive my hairstylist crazy by bringing in photos of my favorite celebrities with their wavy, wind-tousled hairstyles. She would patiently explain to me the hours it took to get and keep that beachy, natural look.

There’s a concept called “studied casualness,” which refers to any look that appears thrown together but in reality has been carefully wrought. I have seen it applied not only to personal appearance but to interior decorating and photography. Any time something looks appealing but easy and effortless, you can bet that a lot of work actually went into it.

This concept applies to many other facets of life. For example, actors who inhabit a completely different character make us believe in their total transformation. They don’t seem to be acting, but rather they are the character they’re portraying. Great athletes also make their moves look effortless. Slam dunks, triple axels, balance beam dismounts, and graceful football passes all look easy. It is only when you see the athlete sweat that you realize the skill and concentration behind the move.

Last weekend, I participated in a piano recital along with students ranging in age from 7 to 17. As I watched the best performers, I noticed that their fingers seemed to fly easily and fluently over the keys. Yet I knew from personal experience that playing a difficult piece on the piano requires concentration, effort, and hours of practice. And playing in front of an audience is a nerve-wracking experience. Luckily I only do it once a year!

So whether it’s someone speaking a foreign language,  throwing a baseball, playing guitar, or looking fabulously casual, realize that it didn’t come naturally. All good things take effort and time. It’s only natural!




Lookin’ Good



As a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), I understand the temptation to spend one’s days in yoga pants and t-shirts. After all, there are many days in a mom’s life when she doesn’t even leave the house. Yet I can think of some good reasons for us to ditch the sweats and make ourselves look presentable, even if our only company is a two-year-old and the man who runs the corner dry cleaners.

1. Getting dressed in jeans or other more structured clothing helps keep your weight down. Let’s face it. The operative quality of spandex is to expand, allowing an ever-growing stomach, butt and thighs to sneak up on us unawares. Without warning, when I need to get dressed for something important, I find myself with a muffin top that could feed a crowd.

2. Wearing a snappy outfit can also give us a sense of importance. My only errands of the day may be grocery shopping and running to the bank. But if I’m wearing khaki trousers and a nice shirt, it can seem as if I am just taking a quick break from my important office job to get a few errands done.

3. It gets old being told by friends at the local market, “Are you feeling okay?” or “You look tired” just because I failed to put on any makeup. A dash of rosy blush and a bright lipstick can take away that “just left my sick bed” or “extra in a zombie movie” look.

4. Looking good can make a person more productive. Whether male or female, those who work at home are surely tempted to stay in pajamas and fuzzy slippers. But an unkempt appearance can lead to a lackadaisical attitude. Surely some decent clothes, a pass with a hair brush, or a nice shave can make us more alert and on task.

5. Looking nice can also elevate your mood. I always feel happier when I think I look nice in a cute outfit and a bit of makeup. There’s also the potential for a member of the opposite sex to check you out, another mood booster, whether you’re single or married.

I have a good friend who always looks her best. She wears skirts and makeup and does her hair whenever she goes out, even just to pick up her child at school, which is where we met many years ago when our boys were in preschool together. I must admit that I used to hate her for it. She was so put together while I usually had food stains on my misshapen t-shirt and flip flops on my feet. But she was so funny and fun to be with that I had to like her. And I came to admire her desire to look good in her everyday existence.

I plan to make more of an effort to get dressed in the morning, wear a dash of makeup, and fix my hair. I want to be able to look in the mirror and say to myself, “Lookin’ good.”