Growing up, we didn’t have a lot.  My dad likes to regale us with stories about how when my parents first got married, they lived in such a small house that the refrigerator was in the living room, and when you walked in the front door, if you took two more steps you’d be walking out the back door.   When they found out they were expecting another baby, they decided it was time to buy a bigger house.  Since they weren’t expecting twins, they chose a nice 3-bedroom rambler on a 1-acre corner lot.

My dad was a stickler for keeping the yard looking immaculate – probably where I get my need to mow the grass if it’s grown taller than an inch or two, a trend that drives my hubby crazy.  My dad went to great lengths to make sure not a single dandelion would grow in our yard, chortling over the fact that many of the yards in our cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood sported dandelions, causing the neighbors to come to my dad to ask what his secret was.

It’s all about appearances, after all.

My dad worked hard to support our family, successfully finishing high school while working two jobs to make ends meet.  He then took night classes at the local Community College so he could ultimately get a better job.  He set a good example for us kids, working his way up the ladder for many years at the same company and becoming quite successful.  He’s always been smart with money, and even when he had extra to spend, instead of spending it, he’d tuck it away for a rainy day.

We always bought our clothes at Goodwill or Salvation Army – my parents didn’t believe in wasting money on ‘new’ clothes when we’d outgrow them quickly.  My sister and I got really good at picking out the perfect outfits so we’d ‘blend in’ with the other kids in our classes, and secretly hope that it wasn’t obvious we had second-hand clothing.

It’s all about appearances, after all.

My older sister and I shared a room (and when the twins got too old to logically share a room as a boy and a girl, my younger sister got squeezed into our room with us).  My sister and I were very particular when putting our clothes away.  Not only did we hang our clothes specifically by color, we even created outfit charts that we hung on the front of our respective closet doors to make sure we didn’t wear the same outfit to school twice within a two-week period.

It’s all about appearances, after all.

Whenever we’d visit my grandmother (my mom’s mom who I miss very much) or when she came over to visit as we were growing up, her hair was always perfectly coiffed, her nails manicured and her make-up pristinely in place.   I think Lucille Ball was her role model, as she sported a similar hairdo, always dyed her hair red, and could easily have passed as her sister.  Her boisterous personality was polar opposite of my mom’s extreme shyness.  I have a mix of both personalities – extremely shy when first we meet, but once I get to know someone, I can be quite boisterous.

I think my grandma influenced my sisters and my style – in that we never left the house without every hair in place, our outfits perfectly coordinated, and when we were old enough to be ‘allowed’ to wear makeup, never left the house without it.

It’s all about appearances, after all.

When I was 20, the local police force changed their minimum height requirements for joining the force.  My diminutive stature of 5’3-3/4″ was no longer an issue (previously the minimum height requirement was 5’6″) so I took the test needed to be allowed to go to the Police Academy.  I aced the written test with no problem, scoring the only 100% in the class.  But missed the physical test by 10-seconds.

Since I have no decent upper body strength it took me a little longer to hoist myself over the 6-foot fence at the end of the other portions of the test (running a specific distance in a certain amount of time, racing through a maze, dragging a 200-pound dummy to ‘safety’).  The inability to scramble over the 6-foot fence quickly cost me that 10-seconds which eliminated my chances of joining the Police Academy.

Sure, I could have taken the test again and see if I could have sped up my time and gained back those 10-seconds, but when I mentioned to my pastor’s wife my intentions, she exclaimed “I can’t picture you as a police officer – you look too much like a china doll!”  So I decided not to re-take the test as I figured no one would take me seriously as an officer of the law.

It’s all about appearances, after all.

Now that I’m *cough*forty-something*cough* I don’t tend to be as anal as I used to be.  Although I do still color-coordinate outfits so I don’t feel more self-conscious than I already do, and have learned not to cringe or correct Princess Nagger’s eclectic choice when she decides to pick something out to wear herself.  I also make sure I don’t verbally berate myself for the ‘baby weight’ that hasn’t gotten a clue over the last 7 years to take a hike.

As I sit here this morning typing this, I’m wearing flip-flops, baggy denim Capri’s, an over-sized t-shirt and have my unruly mane pulled back into a pony tail with nary a trace of make-up on.  I’m planning to hit the Laundromat to do a slew of laundry since Princess Nagger is running out of underwear.  Chances are, I won’t be able to help myself and will put on some eyeliner and mascara, lip gloss, and make sure that my pony tail is ‘just so’ before I head out.  I can’t help myself.  It’s in my blood.

It’s all about appearances, after all.

This Spin Cycle was brought to you in part by Jen, whose friendly appearance isn’t fabricated, but true and sincere and adorable as Sprite’s Keeper.  Head on over and check out the other spinners – discover a world of wonder that awesome people have the same perception of appearance as you do!

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  1. I like how you kept reminding it is all about appearances. I did not have the examples you did and I did not have a concern at all what I looked like. So much so that my kids would mention something trying to encourage me to take more care with my appearance. Funny which way we go, isn’t it?
    .-= Technobabe would like you to read ..Not All Piano Playing Is Enjoyable =-.

  2. I’m in my late 40s, and while I can’t remember the last time I wore makeup, I almost always color-coordinate my clothes AND shoes (which is why I have Crocs in just about every color they make LOL).
    .-= Jan would like you to read ..It Would Appear So =-.

  3. A roommate in college taught me the term NTG – not totally groomed. As in – don’t leave the house if your NTG.

    This morning I was half way to drop off youngest at preschool when I realized I hadn’t brushed my teeth or washed off the green mask dot I put on a nasty pimple last night.

    Thank the Lord for rearview mirrors!!!

    I’ll do better. I promise 🙂
    .-= ash would like you to read ..In Search of: a Spanx unitard and a good camera crew =-.

  4. As they say on What Not To Wear, looking good can lead to feeling good. I am still working on the being put together clothes wise. Me and makeup still don’t get on to well. Great spin!
    .-= VandyJ would like you to read ..Spin Cycle–Appearances =-.

  5. Awesome Spin! The way you tie everything together is perfection. Your dad reminds me of my dad and his lawn. Always on the lookout for an errant weed or grass too tall. Now, he’s more relaxed and has a patch of dirt in front of the walkway which used to hold flowers. Now, all that’s there is a sign that says “our garden was at its peak last week. Sorry you missed it.”
    You’re linked!
    .-= Sprite’s Keeper would like you to read ..HASAY: Handing in my resignation. =-.

  6. Loved this! I saw myself in every word. Although, I must admit, I don’t think my vanity has waned even a tiny bit since I was a short, insecure teenager … which makes me a short, insecure middle aged woman which is… AWESOME! Thank God I have a boy child and not a girl child …

  7. I knew a girl in high school that used to track her outfits as well. I had completely forgotten about that! I always figured if I couldn’t rembember the last time I wore something, then how would someone else?

  8. There’s nothing wrong about wanting to go out of your house looking decent. It bothers me somewhat that we’ve decided that society, as a whole, isn’t worth putting on a little lipstick and combing our hair for. I realize that it might be just a trip to the market, but you never know who you might come across. Keeping a “clean” appearance shows respect for yourself and the others you encounter. Don’t feel guilty about the pony tail re-do!
    .-= Mama Badger would like you to read ..The Spin Cycle- Appearances =-.

  9. While I think it could be problematic to place too much importance on appearances, I agree with Mama Badger that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making a little effort to look nice. I too have inherited the lipstick thing. Never go anywhere without it. You know, too many people are too casual nowadays. And yes, I realize I sound like a cranky old woman!
    .-= Gretchen would like you to read ..Spin Cycle: Appearance/The Teacher Who Changed My Life =-.

  10. Funny, maybe society changes us. In HS I never once worried about how I looked but once I started working it all changed and I started to become more girlie and dress up. Very strange. This just started happening like recently 5 years ago.
    .-= Maggie would like you to read ..The New 5th Wonder: Chichen Itza =-.

  11. I was thinking a little OCD there with you and your sister! Thank you for sharing this story. Some people are so well put together ALL THE TIME! I always want to look good but some people really have the nak!
    .-= Debby would like you to read ..HAPPY EASTER =-.

  12. That was so interesting to read! My parents and I don’t care much about appearances…and that’s one of the only things my sister does care about! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    .-= Becca would like you to read ..Computer "Upgrade" =-.

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