Daughter

Behind the Hair and Makeup by Anna Whitener

Earlier this week I shared some sneak peeks of the headshots I had taken by my friend and local photographer Whitney Fisher. I don’t think I’ve gotten that many likes and comments since posting my wedding pictures almost three years ago! For someone who focuses on lifting up women daily, I have to admit, it felt really good to be on the receiving end of so many compliments. However, my immediate reaction to feeling proud, pretty (thank you Tori Stewart), and loved was guilt and shame over my vanity.

Y’all, that is ridiculous!

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If dressing up, being pampered with professional hair and makeup, and posing in front of a camera for an hour or so leads to a moment captured in time when you felt strong, beautiful, and loved that you can share with your children, spouses, moms, colleagues, and girl squads, DO IT!!!

More importantly, if you can help another woman feel these things by uttering a kind word or posting a fire emoji, DO IT!!!

In a world where we only see what is posted on picture perfect social media, it is easy to forget that we are all struggling with some aspect of our lives. We should seize the opportunities we have to lift one another up and celebrate the sense of pride and empowerment we get from being supported by those dear to us!

Ok, it’s about to get real…

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Though I don’t allow negative body talk in the store, I myself worry about not being pretty enough, cool enough, curvy enough, business-savvy enough (thank you ever-changing IG algorithms), a good enough wife, a good enough daughter, and as a self-admitted people pleaser, likeable enough.

The good enough daughter card is probably the hardest to play right now. I lost my dad almost 10 years ago, and I am now finding myself on calls with palliative care doctors regarding my mom’s health, with an overwhelming sense of guilt for not being there in person. As a 32 year old, most of my friends can’t yet relate (nor would I want them to be able to). I feel like a “debbie downer” for being distracted with these stresses even when I don’t utter them aloud.

Even with amazingly supportive friends and family, I can sometimes feel alone.

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So…receiving numerous “likes” and comments on a simple post of pretty pictures left me feeling seen, acknowledged, supported, and loved. Those small acts served as reminders of what I already know is true. Ladies, keep it up! The next time you see a noteworthy post from a friend, a colleague, a family member, or even an aquaintance, don’t you dare keep scrolling. No matter how idealistic each of our lives looks from the other side of a computer screen, we all need each other.

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Cut Them Some Slack by Anna Whitener

My aunt forwarded me two photos that an old friend just found and sent to her. They are of my dad when he was 18 and apparently on a trip to Europe with friends – quite the discovery since he would have been 65 now. I thought I had seen all of my parents’ photos and heard all their stories, but these were new. It is so easy to think of parents’ lives beginning at marriage or parenthood, but they were also once children and young adults navigating their own lives, not just preparing us for ours.

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When I was shopping for my own wedding dress with my mom, the tears were flowing. I looked at her and told her to get it together. I reminded her that this should be a blissful occasion. I assumed (incorrectly) that she was thinking about my dad and either 1) reminiscing on their marriage that was cut short with his untimely death, or 2) wishing he was here to see his baby girl in a wedding dress. It turns out that by assuming the “worst” – that she was crying sad tears instead of joyful ones – I only brought the unhappy memories to her attention. The seamstress helping us directed my mom to the tissue box and said to me “Your mom is thinking about you as a little girl – maybe 5 or 6 years old – twirling around in a dress and pretending to get married. She can’t believe that this day is here, because that memory feels like it was yesterday to her.” My mom nodded vehemently in agreement, unable to put into her own words exactly what she was thinking.

The seamstress provided her opinion of my mom’s thoughts based on her work over the years with many other moms, aunts, and grandmothers, I’m sure. I projected my own wish for my dad to be there onto my mom. She has been a remarkable mother, so I forget that she has a lifetime of memories, some from before I was alive and before she met my dad. She is a grown woman with her own thoughts, dreams, expectations, plans, and memories. Rather than asking my mom what she was feeling and allowing her response (whatever it may have been) to be okay, I got caught up in wanting it to be my special day and took her moment away from her. We can be so hard on loved ones, and I find that especially true with my oh-so-sweet mama, even when there is absolutely no reason for it.  

So, please do this for me, whether at Loveliest or elsewhere. When you are trying on wedding dresses, twirling about and only thinking of what should be and what’s to come, know that some of the people with you may also be thinking of what once was and may simply be in awe that this day is here. Try to appreciate that whatever their reactions may be, they are with you to rejoice in this milestone of your life. Allow those with you to have their own memorable experience, even when it does not look like what you thought it should. Promise me that, and I promise to have the tissues ready!