|Audrey Hepburn as “Sabrina,” after her chic Paris makeover
I’ve always been ambivalent about our culture’s obsession with makeovers. On the one hand, so often the implication is that there’s something wrong with us…with our style, our hair, our makeup, or even our bodies themselves that need “fixing.” A pervasive Self-Improvement culture can sometimes let us forget that we are already just fine, right now, as we are.
Whether in fiction, movies or on daytime talk shows on TV, the transformation is presented with a fairy-tale ending: Cinderella gets the job, the man, the respect of her family, and gets to keep the pair of designer glass slippers.
Life doesn’t work like that. We can change our clothes and even our bodies, but so often the circumstances of our lives haven’t changed that much. We may still have an ill relative who needs care, or an out-of-work spouse or partner, or a house that’s under water on the mortgage, or worse. There’s only so much that we have the power to transform with a snappy new look or yoga routine. I wonder how many of the women who receive splashy makeovers keep up the new (and often higher-maintenance) look.
But on the other hand, sometimes we need a boost, a pick-me-up, a fresh perspective, a jump start. And not just with regard to our appearance; sometimes our routines and habits can use little makeovers too, in order to give our physical and mental health a boost, and help us to stay on top of life’s quick pace and (at times) increasing demands.
In the last several months, I’ve often felt as if life is a speeding train, and I’m barely hanging on to the back railing on the caboose. Some of this has to do with jeune homme’s situation. His aggressive behaviors and mood swings* have become more difficult to manage over time, and we often find ourselves tied down to the house on evenings and weekends or playing tag-team to get chores and errands done, or even just to have a little down time. We’ve realized the situation isn’t sustainable, and are beginning to look at some more comprehensive and longer-term solutions. But in the meantime, I’ve been taking some small-ish steps and making changes to my own routine to help me feel more like I’m driving the train rather than being dragged along behind it.
Even without those circumstances, there seems to be a corollary law of physics which states that getting older means we have to pay more attention to maintenance. Maintenance of our health mostly, but also maintenance of relationships, of keeping our brains engaged and stimulated. Maintenance of our appearance, to whatever degree we’ve decided to go there. Even if life is going along smoothly, the aging process demands more from us in the way of attention and action, in a “use it or lose it” kind of way.
Beginning in January, I’ll be posting periodically on some of these “jump starts” I’ve begun incorporating into my own life and routines. Some are health-oriented, others relate to style and appearance, and some are in the Life, In General category. And I’d love to hear your ideas too for big and small ways you’ve jump-started or re-booted any areas of your life. While I’m wary of Good Fairy-level makeovers, I do think that periodic re-evaluations and tweaks help keep us engaged, and engaging.
What’s your take on makeovers? Do you enjoy a good Before and After, or do you find them off-putting? Or somewhere in between?
*For those who may not be aware, jeune homme (our 15-year-old son) suffered some severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen prior to birth. He’s a sweet kid generally, but has no impulse control and is in the throes of hormonal changes due to adolescence. His physical aggression, though intermittent has been escalating. We’ve been trying to manage it with behavioral therapy and medication, with limited results.
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