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Whether you’re a beauty novice or a confirmed fashionista, this topic is for consulting Mumsnetters on all things style-related. Plus, check out our Swears By page for the inside track on the next Mumsnet must-have.

How do you give yourself permission to look good?

(193 Posts)
BabCNesbitt Wed 31-Jul-13 16:13:40

This isn't for the women who've always invested in their appearance and for whom taking care of their looks is as automatic as looking after their health - who've never questioned whether it's OK to spend money on clothes, skincare, etc.

It's for women like me who perhaps grew up with mothers who thought make-up was for vain women who clearly didn't put enough food on the table for their kids. hmm

Or maybe you grew up with a version of feminism that disdained make-up, but even though you don't necessarily hold to that you still feel a bit guilty about being interested in it.

Or you've just internalised the idea that spending money on yourself - on decent clothes that will last, on skincare that isn't 2.99 from Superdrug, on makeup from department stores rather than the supermarket - is inappropriate now you're a mum.

How do you get over that guilt? If you have, how did you do it - what did you tell yourself? And if you haven't, why not?

(And actually, if you've never felt any guilt about it, why do you think that is?)

<strokes beard thoughtfully>

Pagwatch Wed 31-Jul-13 16:23:24

I thinks it in terms of what I am teaching my daughter.

It doesn't matter if it is make up or making myself look good, or going out to lunch or buying a book I want. I am (to coin Cheryl) worth it.

That is not in a simpering, shallow way. It's that what I want, what makes me happy, does not come last because I am a mother.

I hate the martyr mum thing for loads of reasons but mostly because it teaches children that you become a mum and you are suddenly the least important person in the room.
Do I want my son or daughter believing that shit?

So I want my dd posting on here 'I always get dh something lovely but it's my birthday and he hasn't even got me a card and I am sitting up in my room crying' only to have some twat post back 'men don't think of that stuff' FUCK OFF!

Is that what you were looking for grin

BabCNesbitt Wed 31-Jul-13 16:33:14

That's exactly the sort of thing! grin

Missbopeep Wed 31-Jul-13 16:36:00

I think you need counselling to get over still being controlled ( in your head) by you parents. seriously.

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Wed 31-Jul-13 16:43:07

My feeling is that I work very hard indeed for my wages, so if I want to spend them on something nice for me then I will do so. I have to admit though, that quite often the £2.99 from Superdrug stuff is as good as the expensive stuff - but if it isn't, I'll buy the more expensive stuff, having considered if it was worth spending the money on when considered alongside the family finances.

And I'm very much of the school of buy less but buy better. So I'd rather have one really good dress than five cheaper ones. Again, in a way that is about thinking I deserve the best - but within the boundaries of the family finances etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that I feel I'm worth it and will spend if I want to/can afford it, without anybody else going without. I'd expect dp and the dds to do the same.

garlicagain Wed 31-Jul-13 17:06:33

It happened in my mid thirties. I was living in a country where there's a catch-phrase that translates to "Whatever is beautiful, must be shown off." Couple this with the fact that their culture tells children repeatedly, from the outset, that they're very beautiful, and you have a nation of people convinced of their beauty and duty to flaunt it grin The overall effect of this is really life-enhancing! I realised I'd soaked up the belief that vanity is sinful, that it's a pile of bollocks and life would be a lot richer if I embraced self-love and vanity. So I did that smile

For about a year I went round saying I was vain whenever I got a chance - odd as it might have seemed to some, I needed the repetition - but I started walking the walk immediately. And, you know, it was fun!

Objectively, I look like shit most of the time tbh. But I still smile at my reflection every day, admire a few of my own features, and am a general paragon of self-acceptance. I know I scrub up beautifully. Sometimes I do it just to enjoy my own vanity wink Try it, you'll like it!

This is all about looks due to your question, Bab. I take a similar approach to the more important aspects of my self, too, but find that a bit more of a challenge ... I could do with a shining example being set en masse for that, too, but it's easier to find people putting themselves & each other down sad

Pagwatch Wed 31-Jul-13 17:35:11

Yy Remus, within the context of family finances.

I just hate the 'my dh bought himself a new car but I am hesitant to buy a new dress for a party ' type thing.

Or 'DH goes out every weekend but I end up spending my leisure cash taking the kids swimming.'

As long as it is equitable.

BitchyRestingFace Wed 31-Jul-13 17:55:32

I feel no guilt whatsoever at buying myself nice things. Don't know why. It's always been very simple for me - nice things make me happy! And I suppose I do love myself, not in a bad way, I just know I am not any less deserving than anyone else, I suppose?

I'd feel guilty if my children were going without, but they're not, so no problem.

garlicagain Wed 31-Jul-13 19:59:58

Just realised everybody else has written about spending money ... confused

I don't mind spending money on Me, when I have some, but have only been financially dependent on a man for a very short time. I've always taken it for granted that I pay my own way but, as I've been generous with my dosh when I have it, I'm perfectly content to accept it from others when I haven't smile

If I were a SAHW by mutual agreement, I'd make sure I knew the going rate for a live-in housekeeper/nanny - currently £400/wk in Surrey - and value my worth accordingly. Does that help anyone reading this thread?

Self-sacrifice is overrated. And martyrdom is ugly.

garlicagain Wed 31-Jul-13 20:02:00

Pag, I fervently hope the MN posters who spend their 'spending money' on baby stuff and furniture are a small minority! It makes me feel sick to read threads like that sad

ninah Wed 31-Jul-13 20:08:12

I feel quilty spending money on clothes, because we never had much money when I was growing up, and I've never felt financially secure. I am fighting back hard, though grin

buildingmycorestrength Wed 31-Jul-13 20:11:08

What a great thread. Thank you!

I think of it as manners. I don't want people to ask me if I'm ill (which I am, but don't want to look it or be asked about it every day or be an object of pity), so I wear makeup to look acceptable and pass as normal. I also tell my daughter it is to cover up spots. grin.

I also think that women are under extraordinary pressure as regards they way we look, so everyone is going to deal with that differently. If you don't care, fine, but you aren't me. You don't live my life, you have no idea what I am dealing with, so piss off, voice in my head! I get to choose how I deal with these social norms, because I don't live outside them, I live with them. They are just a fact of life, part of the 'rules of the game', sort of.

garlicagain Wed 31-Jul-13 20:19:43

Piss off, voice in my head!

Indeed smile

Wonderstuff Wed 31-Jul-13 20:31:23

My mother never spent money on herself, and I have always felt that was wrong and that I was not going to put myself last. I've never really been able to articulate why my mother doing this was wrong, but you have summed it up Pagwatch thank you. It's self worth isn't it.

I do feel a dilemma as I don't have much money and feel conditioned that personal spending above family is indulgent and also although I enjoy looking nice I also feel having to put time and effort over and above being that which men have to is an imposition and unfair. So I don't always make time to put on make-up but I feel better when I do. I don't remove hair from my arms often, I do from my face and legs. I don't dye my hair, I don't want to buy into this eternal youth thing. I do spend some money on clothes, not as much as I want and I agonise over every purchase, but when I have made the decision and bought the dress I never feel guilty.

I want my children to see me as equal to my DH and I would hate them to feel sorry for me or worry for me in the way I felt for my mum. I never want to be a martyr.

nomorecrumbs Wed 31-Jul-13 20:36:40

I feel guilty every time I buy an item of clothing over £10. I've pinpointed it to £10 exactly. That's because my Mum refused to spend any more either on herself or on us - clothes were from Primark (back when it was super-cheap), Quality Seconds, hand-me-downs etc.

Now I need better clothes for my job, so I have to live with that nagging voice in my head!

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Wed 31-Jul-13 20:40:26

I've been thinking about this a lot since I posted. I wonder if I don't feel guilty because it's me who's earning the money? Dp was a SAHD for years and is currently out of work, and I must admit that he rarely buys things for himself.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 31-Jul-13 20:40:28

Wonder stuff, I totally get that! I don't want to spend a lot of money on it because it isn't that important. I don't buy the idea of perfection or 'pampering' being about have hair ripped off your body. hmm.

But I'm the one who has to live it. I get to pick. I get to balance those judgments about money, vanity, frivolity, etc ALL BY MYSELF! grin.

Hassled Wed 31-Jul-13 20:40:38

I have no guilt, money permitting, and that was probably because my mother was always interested in clothes and makeup. Plus I'm both really vain and really insecure about my looks. The best clothes and makeup I can afford are good for my self-esteem - why should I feel guilty about that?

ninah Wed 31-Jul-13 20:43:53

I earn the money and still feel the guilt.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 31-Jul-13 20:44:36

Hassled I definitely had a martyr mum. Makes a big difference.

Glad you can have fun with your looks. I get scared dressing in anything but the safest clothes. So dull.

Eliza22 Wed 31-Jul-13 22:43:53

I used to work and earn a good wage. Had some savings. Treated myself to stuff.

I'm married now and am a SAHM. I feel massive guilt buying anything and often shop in charity shops. My husband is a hard worker and a generous man. We have nice holidays but..... I have to hand in receipts for everything and so it takes the pleasure out of "treats". My hair is short bit, i do have highlights and it cost me £68 a go, say every 9 or 10 weeks. DH thinks this is extortionate. its half of what i used to spend at Vidal Sassoon, 15 years ago! It's just not worth it anymore.

teatimesthree Wed 31-Jul-13 22:48:19

Eliza22 - does your husband hand receipts to you for his spending?

Eliza22 Wed 31-Jul-13 22:51:35

Garlicagain I like your rationale, relating to budgeting for the "services" a SAHM provides!

I am:
Housekeeper (cleaning/shopping/washer woman)
Child carer
Cook (though my DH says I'm crap at it, which I am)
PA and general errand-runner.
And oh God..... The ironing. It just goes on and on and on.....

Wonder what my hourly rate would be?

Eliza22 Wed 31-Jul-13 22:54:48

Um, no. But he spends little on himself. He travels a lot so, eats out on the company, stays in some mediocre hotels and some really excellent ones. Has a good company car. He spends a tenner on a haircut. If he has to!

He wants receipts to "balance the home budget spreadsheet" but as I say, it kind of takes the shine of a self treat as I have to justify the cost.

garlicagain Wed 31-Jul-13 22:59:43

Eliza, would it work better if you sat down with DH and worked out a reasonable monthly amount for your personal spends? Thinking about every pound spent gets me down, and I don't have to answer to anyone but myself! It must be horrid to second-guess what DH will say about the price of everything you buy sad

And, yes, it looks like you're worth at least two full-time staff! That's £800 + board and lodging, use of car and insurance grin

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