The Art Of Letting Yourself Go

Feel like letting yourself go? Have you felt like letting yourself go, especially after turning some “magic age”, like 50 or 60? And what does that mean, to “let ourselves go” anyway?

During the long, long pandemic, many of us have lightened up on our beauty routines. I went for nine months using just warm water to wash my hair (it looked the same, really) and foregoing any face makeup except for lipstick. Leg shaving? No, I felt no need. I often wore the same clothes two days in a row. I gave up manicures and pedicures, and still haven’t gotten back to those little luxuries.

It’s been a long time, and I’ll be back. Source.

Some of us gained pandemic pounds, and I did buy the peanut butter Oreos. I only gained a pound or two because I am a light eater and a generally not into food. But I shifted my usually healthy diet to more muffins, Ben and Jerry’s, baked ziti, and white wine.

With tongue in cheek, Danya Evans writes:

“When a woman concedes to letting herself go, she rings the death knell of her valued contributions to society. Letting yourself go by putting on weight, not wearing makeup, eating buttered Pop Tarts, deciding to wear clothes that are fit for comfort instead of style, is the equivalent of saying the morally accepted standards of beauty and presentability do not apply to you.”

-Dayna Evans, The Cut

Cultural restraints and marketing indoctrinations push women to conform to a set of standards about our appearance. We fall in line, to avoid criticism or even worse – losing our “good woman” card. We’re expected to be well-groomed, reasonably slim, tastefully made up and socially acceptable.

No offense to being socially acceptable; I am in favor of it, for men and women. But we can choose to modify old and constraining ways to do it. I have had thoughts about what I want to carry forward from my pandemic-inspired “letting go”:

I now wash my hair with a bar shampoo twice a week, and that’s it. I let it air dry, put a bit of cream on the fuzzy ends, and I’m good. My hair is salt and pepper by nature, and I’ll sometimes add a color wash to it for fun, Like this Roux Fanci-Full rinse.

I’ve cut my wardrobe back to things I love to wear and don’t mind wearing on repeat. My clothes are always clean and fresh, and I look modern, but not like a dedicated fashionista.

My daily makeup is more focused on simple skin care. Moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning, add Retin-A at night, and a few enhancements (see my recent post). A little mascara, concealer, blush and lipstick if I’m going out in public.

I worry less these days, having lived through a homely year, about what others may think about my age, or my relative attractiveness. I am just where I am supposed to be, a slightly-old Not Dead Yet woman at peace with herself.

Please share if you’ve had any thoughts about what it means to “let go of yourself” and if the pandemic has affected those ideas.

“The life of a woman is one of great and perpetual constraint. Why else would Spanx have been invented if it weren’t?”

Dayna Evans, The Cut

Stay fab, xo

Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse:

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  1. What a great post, Patti. I’ve been giving this whole thing some thought lately. I let my ash-blonde hair go grey, and it has done so with gusto! It’s now a dark steel grey (where did the blonde go??) with silver streaks. It’s still thick, glossy & healthy but now it looks dramatic & grown-up & I get compliments from strangers in the street & wonder why I spent so much time & money clinging to the blonde. Put on 10 pounds, didn’t like that I couldn’t wear most of my jeans so took it off & decided I’d rather wear the jeans than eat the treats. I never wore much make-up but I wear even less now — eyes only. Even underwear: less underwire, more free-form. My husband, who is vastly amused by it all, laughingly asks: “so, are you putting the girls in bondage today, or letting them run free?” Having them run entirely free at my age isn’t really an attractive option, but I’m more focused on comfort than fake perkiness. I spend most of my time in jeans, sandals & white tees — I get 2 days out of a tee unless I spill something on myself, a lot more out of dark jeans, & I’ve decluttered my closets by almost 3/4 with no plans to refill them. I have also decluttered my online life: people, causes, blogs, attitudes — if it’s not something I love, it’s gone. And drama. I’ve never really “done” drama, but now less than ever. I simply have no time or patience for other people’s stories & theatre & narcissism & manipulations, & yes, that does include my mother-in-law. Going along to get along is highly over-rated. How much of this is Covid & how much just getting older, I don’t know, but I like it. I love reading about other women’s choices & changes — what interesting times we live in!

    • Oh hey Janet! I could use your brilliant comment as a whole post – you’ve hit on all the “letting go” issues brilliantly. I love your dialogue with your guy about the bra choice. And here’s a new anthem “Going along to get along is highly over-rated.” Rock on and stay fab, xx.

  2. Sometimes the pleasures of food seem worth the dangers to the waistline. My FitBit makes it clear how much one’s metabolism slows down in menopause. I still work out for an hour a day, but it’s rare I top 2000 calories burned. So I “let myself go”–working out and also eating what I enjoy, with creeping weight gain.
    I never shave my legs or underarms in winter. Nobody sees except me. Why invite ingrown hairs for nothing? On my first trip to Europe, in 1982, I was SHOCKED to see the lissome girls on the trains and in the hostels with noticeably hairy legs. Somehow the hairless, pre-pubescent beauty standard has taken hold globally. Kind of creepy if you think about it.
    Same with makeup, although I can’t bring myself to go barefaced. Usually I keep it to mascara and brow filler; no point in lipstick when wearing a mask. Somehow artificiality is equated with class–makeup, strict coiffure, strict clothing, high heels. I’m looking for another way these days, for many reasons. It isn’t letting go, but changing direction, with purpose.

    • Good morning, TOF and thank you for coming over. I enjoyed reading your pandemic beauty modifications! And your closing statement is one to remember, thanks for that. Stay safe and well, xx.

  3. Love your posts! I have tried not to let myself go this past year, although I do find I’m not wearing makeup as much. I love the fact that, as women, we can be comfortable in our own skins and don’t have to live up to other people’s beauty norms. I think you are beautiful and love your style!

    • Good morning Debbie and thanks for your kind comments! Yes, it’s great that we can decide our own beauty norms, and change them when we like. Stay fab, xx.

  4. Not sure I have let myself go but I do things a bit differently. about a dozen years ago I let my hair go naturally gray to increased complements so no coloring but I have been getting fewer haircuts Also, I don’t think I shampoo quite as often. I purchased a couple of pairs of joggers to upgrade my at home attire. At the beginning of the pandemic I always wore makeup whenever I went out, including my red lipstick, even though the mask covered it up. However, for the past two months I have not worn eye makeup. nothing to do with covid. I had eye surgery in April and May so although I will use some tinted moisturizer or a cc cream, do my brows and put on lipstick and blush my eyes are bare. I am looking forward to using eye makeup again soon, but I may actually use less as I am getting used to the look.

    • Hello Darby and thanks for coming over, and leaving your thoughts. I hope your eyes are well on their way to totally healed. I wore my red lipstick under my mask for a while too, until I found that most of it ended up on the mask : > Stay safe and fab, xx.

  5. For me—- I never stopped wearing make-up. Enjoyed my clothes am not a sweatpants wearing gal. I always do my own pedicure so no change here. My workouts went from 5 days a week ( jogging every other day / walking every other day — U tube workouts),to 6. Fearful of putting on weight and not being able to wear the clothes that I like/own.
    Think the only change is at my age (65) I have made decisions to enjoy where I go vs. if travel is a place like ( NY—- I dislike ), I let my husband know I just won’t go. Some family members live there and I always feel terrible going there. Think after lock down the renewed feeling of knowing life is short and “life is choice”, my choices matter —- to me.
    My grey hairs I thought about letting go—- but after 5 months I returned to the salon and made the choice ( for me) to continue to dye my greys.
    Next— hopefully my Church will return to regular in-person worship services.
    Thank you for your sharing. I don’t much comment but I do enjoy your blog.

    • Hello C. and thanks for coming by! How great we can choose for our hair to be gray or blonde or any color we like. Have a wonderful day and stay well, xx.

  6. And how were those Peanut Butter Oreos? You just can’t beat pb and chocolate!

  7. Thank you so much ,I loved viewing that site you listed with those magnificently beautiful photographs lovely reminder of the beauty absolute that exists in our world. I have in the past let myself go when I have been overextended with work and life demands. I find when I take the time for self care via exercise,fun activities, moisturizers,makeup,and fashion I am so much happier and ready to enjoy life and and give to others .Now that mask restrictions are lifting I am ordering your Nordstrom lip gloss tint suggestion looks great. Regarding spanx never wore them never will that is the one area I let my self go naturelle and comfortable.

    • Hello Joan and thanks for stopping by and for your wonderful comments. I’ve never worn Spanx either! I hope you’re feeling great, xx.

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