Like any self-disrespecting, angst-ridden teen, I spent most of my formative years ignoring my mom. From ages 12 to 18, I was figuratively (and sometimes literally) screaming "NA NA NA NA" at the top of my lungs with fingers plugged firmly inside my ears.
It wasn't that I didn't love my mother, but there is a certain amount of rebellion required of young people as we beat ceaselessly against the currents of puberty and peer pressure to start discovering who we are.
I used to pour endlessly over fashion magazines, devouring every look and then attempting (emphasis on the word "attempting") to recreate everything I saw.
My mom has always been a no-fuss kind of lady. Having been brought up firmly in the school of hard knocks, she's never spent more than 10 minutes or 10 dollars on any sort of "look." While she might not have provided me with a wealth of specific beauty advice, she did offer some helpful words of wisdom along the way.
Of course, I promptly ignored all of it.
Looking back, there was some advice that would have served me well in those dark, tweeny times. Let's take a look back at some of the most memorable times I definitely should have taken mom's advice. (Also, when I recount my mother's words, her sentences always end in an exasperated, stern use of my first and middle name.)
1. Lay off the black eyeliner, Rachel Claire.
Because my parents love me and care about me, there are not a lot of photos of my black eyeliner phase, which lasted from about age 13 to 16. I knew that eyeliner was a good thing that grown ladies used, but I had no idea what to do with it so I used to just line my entire eye in a thick black ring a la my favorite emo band lead singers of the day. They were dark times, indeed.
My mom used to tell me not to wear so much black eyeliner, and to always make sure I washed all of it off every night. I, of course, just piled more on and slept hard in that stuff. I looked like the lovechild of Avril Lavigne and a raccoon for many of my teenage years.
At some point, a switch flipped in my mind and I opted out of the old-fashioned-bandit look, but if I'd heeded Olga's advice earlier, I could have saved myself the time I later spent burning every photo of me as a young teen.
2. Find a stylist you trust and stick with them, Rachel Claire.
My mother always tried to impress upon me the importance of fiscal priorities. Things like clothes and makeup were never high up on the list, and why would they be when clearance racks exist? Certain things are always worth spending money on, though: travel, health, shelter, and a great hairstylist you love.
I started getting my hair done at the same salon as my mom when I was 11 or 12, and I started getting my eyebrows waxed around that same time. Mama always told me, "Be careful who you love, and also be careful who you trust with your eyebrows."
Well, I should have listened, but instead, at the tender age of 16, I found myself getting my brows waxed by some rando at the mall while my BFF got her nails done.
Might as well, I naively thought.
That lady waxed my brows down to almost nothing. I looked surprised and scared for weeks.
Because my mama didn't raise no fool, there are obviously no photos of my eyebrows during this difficult time in my life. I was crafty enough to know that this was a perfect opportunity for some BANGS! So that's just what I did.
3. Don't ever change anything about yourself for a man, Rachel Claire.
This Saturday, my parents will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They're the happiest couple I know, and they have always been so loving and supportive of each other. If there's anything I want from this life, it's a relationship like the one they've shown me is possible.
They both went through a lot to get to each other, and I've always trusted my mom's relationship advice. I mean, she managed to marry a dude who tells her "I love you more today than yesterday" EVERY DAY. My dad rules. I mean, I asked him about the best part of marriage and look what this guy sent me.
My mom knows how to pick 'em, and her advice is worthwhile. It took me a while, though, to realize she was worth listening to, and before that, I spent a lot of time changing things about myself according to what a guy wanted or liked.
When I was a baby 18-year-old who had just moved 1,000 miles away from home for school, I met a guy who told me I would look "like a man" with short hair, so I should never cut it. I thought this guy was hot, so I did just that, even though I desperately wanted to cut my hair. (Spoiler alert: That dude sucked, and I look awesome with short hair.)
In high school, I had braces for a while, and when a guy I liked made fun of them, I didn't smile in photos for over two years.
It took me a while to catch on to the whole idea that everything in my life did not have to be perfectly orchestrated so as to win myself a man. When I finally did cut my hair into a pixie cut at age 20, I didn't consult the guy I was dating. The only person I talked to about it was my mom, and she loved it.
4. Nobody cares about the way you look nearly as much as you think they do, Rachel Claire.
When I was a kid, I often thought of my mom as a mean woman. A lot of this was me being a brat, but now that I'm older, I realize my mom has never been the type to suffer fools. She's busy all the time, and she's practical to a fault. So when I freaked out about how I looked, she told me, quite frankly, no one cared about how I looked.
This advice was probably the hardest for me to internalize. When my mom would remind me, "No one's even looking at you," as I applied concealer in a panic before a grocery run, I'd scoff and take offense. But more than any of her other advice, I wish I'd been able to follow this one sooner.
I spent so much time--probably hundreds of hours of my life--worrying what people thought of me. I have more than one vivid memory of being 16, 17, 18 or 19 and crying because I hated what I saw in the mirror so much. We're our own worst enemies, and I was nothing but a supervillain to myself.
My mother was never the type to coo over me, and even if she had, it wouldn't have made a difference. I spent most of my young adulthood spiraling in a deep and twisted cycle of self-loathing. I hated my hair, my face and my body, and I had a time hard time separating those things from my "self" at all.
When I didn't love myself, I couldn't love others and I couldn't let love in. I was miserable, aching, and desperate for a way out. As much as I may cringe looking back on images of myself with too much eyeliner or terrible brows, nothing hurts to recall so much as the thought of my mother stuck in my sidelines, unable to get through to me and help me feel good about myself.
These days, I get asked by some people about where I get my confidence, and I have a hard time answering it. It wasn't like one day it clicked, but rather over a series of events and over the course of time, I developed a better attitude. It isn't so much that I completely love myself now, or I feel great about myself every single day. But, I have grown to accept and enforce that DGAF attitude I think my mom was encouraging.
Worrying about what other people think is exhausting, and I think I simply wore myself out. I realized my mom was right, and no sane human was spending as much time criticizing me as much as me.
David Foster Wallace once wrote, "You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” He's right, and so was my mother. I'm so glad to have gotten over my deeply paralyzing insecurities. Life feels amazing on the other side, and I know my mom can back me up on that having watched her undergo her own self-love battle.
Looking back, there are probably other times I should have taken my mom's advice but we have to make our own mistakes, sometimes, just to learn from them. My mom warned me against certain hair colors, types of men and life risks, but I had to learn the hard way. It's the only way I know how.
While I'm grateful for a mom who is present, caring and supportive, I'm mostly glad to have a mom who always trusted me enough to let me make mistakes. Whether I was coming home from the salon with a terrible new hair color (shout-out to my bleached, zebra-striped hair in the 8th grade) or coming home from across the country with a negative bank account and a hole in my heart the size of California, my mom is always there to hug me, dust me off, and get me back on my feet.
From now on, hopefully, I'll do a better job at listening when she gives me her two cents. I'm thankful to have it.
So now you guys tell me: has there ever been some mom advice you ignored and later regretted?