I’m A Vain Mom and I’m Not Sorry. You Shouldn’t Be Either.
A few times a year, I visit my dermatologist for Botox to get rid of my frown lines, or as I like to say, “To get rid of my mean mommy face.” I started to get Botox because a few years ago, my daughter asked me why I looked mad, to which I responded, “I’m not mad. This is just my face!” Within minutes I had found and booked an appointment for Botox to get rid of the deep frown line in the middle of my eyes.
When I was at my dermatologist’s office last week, I noticed the screen saver on her computer. She had a meme that read, “Online dating is like getting Botox. No one talks about it, but everyone does it.” It made me laugh. (Even though 11 million women get or have gotten Botox in the US!) I have a friend who walks around with $3000 purses, but hides that she gets Botox and fillers from her husband, paying for the treatment 1/3 in cash, 1/3 on a debit card, and 1/3 on the joint credit card her husband will see. It’s not because of how much this treatment costs (a lot!) It’s because, and she’ll admit it, she doesn’t want her husband knowing what she does for “upkeep.”
Like me, she’ll admit she’s vain. She’s also a mother of three. I can be vain. I’m a mother of two. No mother should feel embarrassed when it comes to vanity. Sure we can slap on the term “self-care” or “self-love” but how many times have you seen mothers on social media posting, “OMG! I was just carded at the LCBO! Best day of my life!” It feels great to be carded when you’re in your thirties, forties or, sometimes these days, even in your fifties. It does give you an extra spark in your step. (Although this hasn’t happened to me in a while…Hmmm.)
Three weeks ago, my 15-year-old daughter and I were picking up take-out Korean food. The man behind the cash asked, “Would you like separate bills?” My daughter looked at me confused. I looked at my daughter confused. Then we both broke into giggles. “Um, she’s my daughter,” I managed to say. “You look like sisters or friends,” he responded. It made me ultra happy, but also left me wondering both, “Is he lying?” and “Does my 15-year-old daughter look middle-aged?” I’m leaning towards, he’s a liar, because, I KNOW I don’t look fifteen-years-old. I no longer even look 34.
I’m not going to give up getting Botox, getting serious facials four times a year, going to the gym, or getting rid of my grey hair. Unfortunately for me, the grey hair appears in the centre of the part on my head, which means a visit to the salon every four weeks! The second I see even ONE strand of grey hair, I’m in full-on panic mode, calling the hairdresser, begging to have them fit me in. Also last week, after seeing more than one grey hair, after checking myself out in the rearview mirror of my car, I just walked into the salon and pleaded, “I’ll take anyone here! Anyone! I’ll sit waiting in case there’s a cancellation!” That’s how vain I can be. Thankfully, the “Vanity Universe” was on my side, and one of the colourists had a cancellation, and my heartbeat went back to normal.
In fact, I suppose you could consider me a vain mother before I even met my babies, while pregnant. Before I was about to give birth to both of my children, I made sure to get a manicure, pedicure, and underarm, leg and Brazilian bikini wax, because I knew I wouldn’t have time after my babies were born. It wasn’t out of necessity. It was out of vanity because I don’t enjoy going to the hairdressers, getting waxed or having my nails done. It’s just that, well, I’m vain.
Those waxing appointments before my children’s births were almost as important to me as packing a hospital bag, which is probably why, when I went in to labour a week early with my son, there was NO overnight bag ready by the door, and my father had to run out after midnight to an all-night drug store to buy me diapers and formula. But, hey, at least I had pretty toes!
Even IN the hospital, almost 16 years ago, as I was being wheeled into the operating room for the birth of my daughter, a kind female nurse whispered into my ear, “Don’t worry. This doctor is an artist with C-sections. You’ll barely notice any scar. He’s a genius!” This female nurse “got” it. I actually wasn’t even worried about scarring, until she mentioned it, which means other about-to-be mothers must have asked about scarring. Pregnant women are obviously vain too!
And, honestly, looking at my stomach, you’d never know I’d had two C-sections, this is how ‘artistic’ both doctors were. Sure many mothers say, “I like the scars because it reminds me that I’m a warrior to go through three C-Sections.” I’m more like, “As long as I can wear a bikini!”
I’m not sure why women or mothers, in particular, have to pretend they’re not vain. When I went to get Botox last week and moaned to the dermatologist that I couldn’t stand the frown line and wrinkles on my forehead, her response was shocking! “Actually, you look really good,” she said, adding, “I’ve seen you look much worse!” Honestly? I laughed hard and told her, “I need someone to be truthful!”
Also, I gained a few too many pounds over the winter, due to stress eating after my divorce, but I knew I had my book launch coming up. When I realized that it was less than three months away, I knew I needed to upgrade myself. So I started eating…air. I’m kidding. Sort of. For almost three months, I cut out all carbs, alcohol, and bad sugars. It was torture eating only eggs, avocados, blueberries and Greek yogurt for weeks. (This is a diet I made up! It’s not doctor recommended, but it did work, so I didn’t give AF. But I don’t recommend it!) As I ate another boiled egg, always at the back of my mind was, “You’re going on a book tour. You will be on television. You will have your launch party, you have to look good, especially since you’ll be interviewed by television or podcast hosts that look like supermodels!” Yes, I was being competitively vain, but I’m sure these hosts – mostly moms too – were vain as well, because who wants to look like crap on television, whether you’re the host or guest?
Recently I found myself in a conversation with a mother I had just met. Her baby is two months old, and, frankly, I wouldn’t know that she had a baby at all if she hadn’t told me. I thought her body looked great! Then she told me how “fat” and “ugly” she felt and wanted to know how I lost my baby weight. I told her the truth; “I basically ate air for months and exercised to the point where I’d feel confident enough to actually teach a spin class.” She didn’t laugh, as most people do, when I say this in a joking manner, even though it’s entirely true. She sighed and responded, “That’s what I’m doing! I’m eating, like, nothing. I hate when people say nine months to gain the weight and nine months to get rid off. I want to lose the baby weight in three months!” She then told me about how hard she is exercising as well. I also told her, “Don’t worry. My body never looked better than after losing all the baby weight, because I was exercising so much and eating so clean, so when the weight fell off, at exactly six months, my body never looked better.” This cheered her up.
I also hired a personal trainer a few months ago because I know nothing about weights, or how to use them. I basically said to the trainer when we met, “I need to look good in 8 weeks! Just make my 40-something-year-old body look hot!”
Likewise, when I have to get my hair and make-up done for an event or a special occasion, I have been known to say to the makeup artist or hairstylist, whether it’s a man or woman, “Just make me look like you want to F**k me!” Part of it is just my sense of humour, but, yes, there is a little bit of truth in every joke.
Do I like working out? No. I’m not one of those people who are like, “I did Soul Cycle and then went to a Moksha yoga class all before 7 am! I can’t wait to do another booty ballet class tonight. And I’m running a marathon on the weekend!” Sure, I like talking to my trainer, and, yes, I love the feeling AFTER I work out, but who am I really working out for? I’d say 50% of why I work out is because it keeps me sane and when, after a couple of months of my non-recommended diet and working out with a trainer, I found the nerve to try on my “skinny jeans” and they fit, I almost burst into happy tears!
But the other 50 percent?
To be truthful, I think I do it because want what I consider a good body for me, but, yes, I’ll also work out, because I want to look good for my boyfriend, and all the other women who size me up, as I walk down a street. Yup, I went there. No, I’m not setting back women 150 years (I believe anyone with a vagina should consider themselves a feminist, as I do.) I’m simply stating there’s nothing wrong with being a vain mother, sometimes, even if you want to wrap it into a fancy little box and call in “Self-care.”
Also, gals, let’s be honest…
When we first meet, most of us do the up and down glance. We even do the up-and-down glance at other women we don’t even know, as we walk down busy streets, to see what they are wearing and also to check out their body. (Wait? You don’t do that? Good for you! But if you do, who cares?)
And then, in the last year, I needed prescription glasses, because suddenly, I had a hard time reading the small font on texts, e-mails, let alone books and magazines. I hated every single pair of lenses I tried on, and still hate the ones I eventually picked out. I think it must have been vanity because it took me six weeks to actually pick them up, not because they kept calling to tell me they were ready, but because I was being vain. I did eventually pick them up and wear them all the time. I still think they’re ugly, on me, but I like being able to read. (The thought of getting contacts or laser eye treatment scares the crap out of me, so I’m not THAT vain.)
There’s nothing wrong with being vain even when it isn’t entirely for yourself. So I want to be attractive to my boyfriend. So what? I don’t want to see a deep frown line on my face so I get Botox? So what? Yes, I want to be able to fit into the same jean size as I did pre-motherhood. So what? Yes, I like to hear I look like my daughter’s sister. So what? Yes, I will get back to yoga, because not only does it make me less stressed, but I know my guy is turned on the more limber I am in bed. So what?
We all need to stop pretending, so other women who are insecure about something about their mom-bodies, know that it’s okay to be vain, talk about it, and want to do something about it. Yes, I believe parenting is only a part of our identity (obviously the most important part.) It’s shocking, I know, that some of us mothers can be both vain while also being great parents and good moms. They are not mutually exclusive.
So, yes, I get Botox, and I’m not afraid to talk about it.