From a Mom Who “Used to be Hot”

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We owned this summer. I mean, we totally killed it. From spending countless hours at the pool to building the mother of all playhouses in our backyard, I can look back and say we made the most of the hot Alabama summer in 2017.

One of the highlights was a family trip to Alabama Splash Adventure, our local water park, where we packed up our three-year-old daughter (left the one year old at home, because, duh), my niece (eight), nephew (six), and my mother and father-in-law (ages redacted ::wink::) and had what can only be described as one of the greatest days ever in the history of water-parking. I knew my daredevil daughter would be in hog-heaven on the slides, but I was skeptical about the cleanliness and wait times we would have to endure for us all to have a good time. But, as all good parents do, we sunscreened up and were there when the park opened, ready to make sure the littles had a memorable time.

What I was completely unprepared for was just how much fun we would all have. The adults slid, screamed, and laughed just as much, if not more than, the kids did. It was that rare parenting unicorn where not only do you get to watch your kids have a blast but you can actually enjoy an activity with them. Not pretend to enjoy it — I’m looking at you pretending to eat fake play food that your kid hands you — but genuinely doing something enjoyable together.

I was having such an awesome day, in fact, that I almost didn’t catch a brief exchange between two dads discussing what I can only describe as my apparently waning hotness. It went something like this:

Dad One: “Did you see that mom with the really short hair?”

Dad Two: “Yeah. She looks like she used to be hot.”

For those of you that don’t know, I do, in fact, have really short hair. Not by choice, mind you. (Although it has been pretty awesome to not spend twenty-plus minutes blow drying my hair every morning.) It’s chemo hair. It’s grown into a pretty hip pixie since I had to shave it off in February (which is indeed a happy accident), but trust that it is not “really short” by my choosing.

In the moment, I wasn’t even mad at the comment. I even took it as a compliment at the time because, you know what? They were right. I used to be hot and maybe that meant that a slice of the old (hot) me was still in there somewhere. But as the high of the perfect day wore off, the words started to creep in and settle like negativity always does. She looks like she used to be hot. Used to be. Which means I’m not hot anymore, or at least not right now. Ouch.

I have never really been self-conscious. A bad hair day (ironically) never bothered me. I never had to have the perfect fingernail polish and never really cared if my outfit was “on trend.” I’m actually kind of tone deaf to a lot of the common womanly woes I see friends obsess over. That may be a byproduct of being a size two with naturally blonde hair my entire life, but honestly, I just never worried about my appearance because I didn’t have to.

Now, the cruel reality is, I’m thirty pounds overweight with “really short hair” and self-conscious for the first time in my life. Thirty-two is a weird age to start worrying what people think of the way you look, but that’s where I am. Sometimes I just stare in awe of how much my body has changed, and sometimes I can’t even look up when I wash my hands because it’s such an identity crisis when I meet the eyes in the mirror and don’t see the face that I’ve known for so long.

One thing I’ve learned since being diagnosed with breast cancer is you can’t put so much as one pinky down the rabbit hole or you’ll spiral all the way to the bottom. So I’ve decided to replace the confusion with logic. So here are a few truths when I start to consider my expired hotness:

  1. I don’t need to be hot to snag male attention. Already got a man. Don’t need (want) another. I’ve been happily married for six years and I can’t shake my husband’s constant groping, extra weight and all. You see, when you truly fall in love with someone, you love all of them. Even it that means a softer middle and a dude’s haircut.
  2. I don’t need to be hot to make other females jealous. This isn’t high school. I’ve lived long enough to know the game and I don’t want to be around those kind of women and don’t want to be that kind of woman. Here’s a tip for anyone younger reading this — I know a lot of successful women and the common denominator isn’t a tiny waist size. It’s their constant drive and determination.  
  3. I don’t need to be hot to have a fan club. I’ve got two tiny humans that love me unconditionally. I remember not long ago being sad I had nothing to wear so I put on a decade-old men’s Polo button-down and some maternity-waisted khaki shorts. I walked out of my room and my toddler looked me up and down and said, “Good job, Mommy. You look gorgeous.” I promptly got on the phone and ordered her her very own pony. I would also like to point out that I birthed the president (Presley) and vice-president (Knox) of my fan club. Grew them inside my body, fed them with my said body, and now spend most of my energy making sure their little bodies are safe and happy.
  4. Trump card — I have cancer. So the fact that I’m here is way more important than being hot. I wish more women could have the perspective you get with being sick without actually being sick. Because since I was diagnosed, not a lot else matters besides making sure I’m doing everything in my power to be here for said husband and tiny human fan club.

You know what else being hot doesn’t affect? Being a good friend. Being good at my job. My sense of humor. My love of cheese and bread which is a powerful, powerful thing. Looks are such a small part of the big picture. An impressive piece of art hanging in the room of life, per se. Everybody can appreciate a beautiful piece of artwork, but it isn’t an integral part of the overall structure.

So when I look back on that awesome day in August, I won’t think about my one piece Target mom-suit or my “really short hair.” Instead, I will remember all the other pieces of furniture in the room. My daughter’s crazy, proud smile when she rode the “big” slide by herself or my nephew almost getting knocked unconscious by the waterfall on the lazy river (that thing should really have a warning, by the way).

And for the record — I can, and will, be hot again when my circumstances slow down enough for me to do something about it. Because, as a woman and a mommy, I can be successful at anything I point my drive and determination towards. Take that, random dad at the water park.

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Haley I
Haley is an Alabama native who swore she would never end up back in Birmingham after college but has fallen in love with her city all over again since she graduated from the University of Alabama in 2007. With a degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a double minor in Marketing and English, Haley has always had a passion for helping the companies she's worked for grow their brands and make a positive impact in their communities. Haley is currently the Marketing Director at Skin Wellness Center Dermatology and also does independent marketing consulting for causes she feels passionate about like the revitalization effort projects in downtown Birmingham. Haley is the proud wife of six years to her chicken farming husband, Bobby. They have a three year old daughter, Presley, with freakish comedic timing and a one year old son, Knox, who is the life of any party. In December of 2016, Haley was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer which has colored her life with a beautiful appreciation that most people don't get to experience. Don't count cancer a hobby, though. Haley is into sports talk radio, always playing hostess for friends and family and capturing life's precious moments with pictures and words as often as possible.

35 COMMENTS

  1. To Haley: you continue to amaze me as I read your Blogs today!! I just discovered that You are an extremely talented writer, I am so proud of you!! My heart swells with pride, appreciation and love for you!! Keep on being the Awesome Beautiful Hot Momma that u are now!! Your Love for Life, God and Your Family Amaze me! I am forever thankful and proud to call u my niece !! I love you so much, and God has awesome things in store for you!! He has made u into a Brave Young Warrior!! Keep rallying the troops and Loving God and your Family for he has Great Plans For you!! God is not through with you Haley!! He still has so much life planned for you!! Jerimiah 29:11-13. Paraphrased: For I know the Plans I Have for you, plans not to harm you, but plans for Hope and plans for your Future!!
    Love you sweet girl and always Praying for you!’?✝️?

  2. Wow! You have some great perspective to share. Thanks for sharing it with us. Not that it matters one way or another but I definitely think you are still “hot” Haley! I don’t love that term because you are much more than that. Definitely a beautiful person and mother. (Those dads at the water park make me mad! Why would they even talk like that? So rude.)

  3. I’m a little, ok a lot curious if the two talking heads had dad bods, bald spots, beer guts, or were they absolute Tanning Chatum doppelganger? Usually the fellas having such conversations should probably take a look in a mirror, and not the one on the wall!? I too am no longer hot, not that I ever was, but I was super cute. Wait until you are 43, I am quite surly in my response and feelings concerning others opinions. I admire your fierce determination to whip cancer and be here for your family. Best wishes and prayers for you. And…you are absolutely beautiful.

  4. This is so great. But seriously, why are two dads checking out other women anyway??? What is wrong with this picture? Is that why people take their kids to water parks? To check out other dudes’ wives? You are beautiful inside and out and I only just met you by reading this post.

    • In fairness to those dads, its nearly impossible for a man not to look. Its in our genes. The problem comes in when he keeps looking, or in how he looks, and that he can control.

  5. I enjoyed reading your story. You are a true inspiration to alot of women. Random dad’s at Alabama adventure?? Well they were probably single.(lol). They will one day be punished for their way of thinking. You are truly a beautiful woman outside and your story proves just as beautiful inside. You have a beautiful family. Keep fighting the fight and hold your head high. Thank you for sharing your story as I am an Alabama girl myself. Like your aunt replied, “God has his magnificent plan for you”. :))

  6. “An impressive piece of art hanging in the room of life, per se. Everybody can appreciate a beautiful piece of artwork, but it isn’t an integral part of the overall structure.”
    I love this analogy. You are beautiful and talented and stronger than most women I know. Keep up the great work momma!!

  7. Well, while I loooove this article, the truth is you’re quit attractive right now. (Don’t tell your husband I said that).

  8. This is me! I am a little older at 44 and I am finishing up on my breast cancer journey now. I’ve had double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and my reconstruction was last week. Thank you so much, I needed to read this as I have been still struggling with my appearance too! I feel like I look like a completely different person now with cancer written across my forehead or something! Praying for you and sending love and ? hugs! ❤️

  9. I love this so much! You are an inspiration to all moms! I don’t have cancer but I did get the extra pounds with both of my pregnancies. Embracing the mom bod & suit for my tiny fan club was more important to me than getting back down to my previous size. While being healthy is very important, don’t kill yourself in the gym while your kids are little. You will get your body back (maybe) but you won’t get the time with them back.

  10. Haley,.I love to read anything you write. You are an amazing woman with a beautiful take on life. Never stop expressing yourself because I am a huge fan.

    You are always in my prayers,
    Lorrie P’Pool

  11. Haley, I enjoy reading your blog. You are an inspiration to all women! I love that you can embrace life no matter what comes your way. Praying for you and your family! God has a plan and I know it’s going to amazing. My husband and I have a four house chicken farm in northeast Alabama.

  12. As a woman over 65 (how did that happen!) I applaud you! At your young age you have discovered what is really important in life! It is not necessary to dwell on what others think of you or their reactions! You, now, are a Hot Mamma to the important people in your life! It took me a bit longer to be myself and not care what others thought of my sometimes spirited behavior. I dress for myself, not others…..life is too short to dwell on such detail! ENJOY LIFE,

  13. I really needed this perspective right now. And I will carry your words with me, and will heed your advice when I am tempted to flirt with self loathing in the mirror.

  14. Your blog resonated with me. I have been fighting cancer since 2015 (stage IV, Nov. 2016). I had a double mastectomy with no reconstruction. So, the dads at the waterpark don’t even notice me, haha. But, I’m still here and kickin. I have 2 daughters 10 and 12. It is my goal to let them see me a confident woman (even though I’ve gained 25 lbs from taking estrogen blockers and have no boobies). A woman’s worth is not what’s on the outside. My motto since initial diagnosis is Living on Purpose. Make each day count and enjoy the little things in life, because they are afterall, the big things! Love and hugs to you fellow warrior!

  15. Haley, you are gorgeous, inside and out! My hair looks just like yours and I too am glad to still be here! Diagnosed day after Valentines! Just finished treatment…you inspired me to keep on keepin’ on! Xxxooo

  16. Assuming that this man didn’t intend for the author to hear his comment (and if he did then that’s cruel), I think there’s a lot of anger directed towards him. People are saying they were probably ugly, probably overweight, and I just don’t see why it’s such a bad thing for a man to talk to another man in this way. Would it make a difference if the man looked like a Greek god?

  17. From one breast cancer survivor to another, loved your article & can totally relate! As long as you have your health & a loving family, really nothing else matters. Really enjoyed reading your perspective & I think you’re beautiful both inside & out! 🙂

  18. Thank you for sharing your perspective and your obvious bravery. This resonated with me so much but I have not battled cancer. Your line about getting the perspective without being sick – this piece is hopefully giving that to all people, especially women, and especially those with an extra 30 lbs.
    Here’s to your health and t0 the continued drive to appreciate, love and shape our bodies for life!

  19. I came across your article on YSC’s Facebook page and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I am a 34 year old mother of 1, and 2 weeks post reconstruction for a double mastectomy. Pre-cancer, I was 10lbs thinner with waist long blonde hair, and toned body. I too am rocking the pixie cut and pulling out the elastic waist pants. You made some great points about making our children a priority and that being ALIVE trumps everything. Just know that you are not alone. Half way across the country, I am going through the same thing.

  20. Bless you beautiful soul. You are WONDERFUL inside and out. This is the first time I happen to find a post of yours – a friend of mine shared it on Facebook. I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you for this beautiful article!

  21. Absolutely beautifully written by someone absolutely beautiful inside and out. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt words with us. Your perspective is inspirational and moving. Wishing you great health and continue joy.

  22. Haley, just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your articles. I grew up going to school with your brother and have had you and your entire family in my prayers since last December. Your perspective is inspiring and honestly, refreshing. (I’d also be willing to bet the random water park dad wasn’t exactly in his peak of body perfection, so he can suck it.) As a new mom myself, I know those body changes alone are weird to say the least. Throw being sick in the mix and I think you’re doing a darn good job. Keep on doing you, mama! And keep writing!

  23. Truely enjoyed your article. You have brought more energy, appreciation, courage and love into my day today. Thank you.

  24. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability. I think you are incredible, beautiful, strong, and just absolutely gorgeous inside and out.

  25. Fist bump from a fellow breast cancer surviving mama of littles who might not have even used to be hot, but is way to busy appreciating that I’m here sharing in life with my husband and kids to care!

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