Why I Let Myself Go (And You Should, Too)

Why I Let Myself Go (And You Should Too)  |  Alida Makes

When I was a child I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. She had this amazing curly head of hair (permed, of course, it was the ’80s), a closet full of beautiful clothes, and a seemingly bottomless makeup drawer. I would sit at the edge of her bed and watch her morning ritual, aching to be older so I could be just like her. I vowed that I would be that beautiful some day.

Then, when I was a teenager, I noticed my mother didn’t perform her morning ritual anymore. She walked around (in public!) bare-faced a lot of the time. Her hair was brushed straight and forgotten. Her closet was no longer stuffed with beautiful clothes. In fact, she wore basically the same thing every day! I realized the shocking truth: she had let herself go. She didn’t care what she looked like anymore. One day I asked her why she didn’t do her hair or makeup much any more, and she said: “When you get older you just stop caring. It happens to everyone.” How sad. She didn’t care about herself anymore! I vowed that it would never happen to me.

Here I am now, a thirty something mom of four, and I am noticing little by little that something has changed in me. In my twenties I made makeup, hair, and jewelry a priority. I took pride in the fact that I had young children and still managed to look presentable. Lately, however, I find myself bare-faced more often than not, and wearing the same clothing over and over. In fact, I admit that I have a, gulp, mom uniform.

This begs the question: have I let myself go?

I still care about my appearance. I still care about myself.  How can I be letting myself go? The answer is stunningly obvious. I had completely misunderstood my mother. When my she said to me “when you get older you just stop caring” I thought she meant you stop caring about yourself. I now realize that she meant you stop caring what other people think.

My younger self would not dare go out in public without makeup. I don’t know what I thought would happen. Maybe that people would be offended by my ugliness? Now not only do I realize that my bare face is NOT hideous, but also that other people could not possibly care less what I look like. And my mom uniform?  I know my style now, I know what looks good on me, and I stick to it. I don’t need a closet full of clothes anymore.  I carefully choose pieces that mix and match with other pieces in my wardrobe, instead of buying everything I like as I did in my twenties.

I have let myself go. I let go of the self that worried what strangers thought of my looks. I let go of the self that thought I had to be fully made up to be beautiful. Most of all I let go of the self who was riddled with insecurity. This doesn’t mean I never get dressed up or wear makeup, I do, I just don’t have to anymore. My inner monologue no longer asks what people will think of me if I don’t do those things. I love who I am now, and that’s really all that matters.

Have you let yourself go too? Are you ok with it?

17 thoughts on “Why I Let Myself Go (And You Should, Too)

  1. I loved reading this!!! I am blessed that I grew up with a mom who never really cared about these things that much, and she fought me well. I barely put on makeup (only for date nights actually), and always have my hair cut in a way that i don’t need to do anything with it 🙂 So yeah, I’ve let myself go right after I stopped haven a million pimples in my face… hehehe

  2. haha totally!!!! I love being in my 30’s! I have never been more comfortable in my own skin. Soft tummy, plain face, mom uniform (leggings and tunic style top usually) and all 😀

  3. I don’t think I agree! I’ve always so admired about my own mom that she has never “let herself go”. She always puts on earrings and makeup, exercises and dresses comfortably, but stylish (and age-appropriate. She doesn’t want to dress too young and look like a “day-old donut”–her words). And yes, she still buys and wears pretty bras and lingerie. And so do I, three kids and 14 years into marriage. I do care what I look like and I think my husband care what I look like and I don’t perform my daily tasks as well or feel as good about myself or my life when I look sloppy. And I’m actually a very secure person, no matter what that makes me sound like. I think we’d like to believe that people don’t care what we look like, but I’m just not sure that’s true. There have been enough studies and social experiments to prove that looks do affect how people are treated. Although, maybe it is true that we shouldn’t really care what they think either way 😉

    1. I think this “let yourself go” is the stop worrying about what others may think of you, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop loving clothes, shoes, jewelry, and makeup. So dress to make yourself feel beautiful, I know I do, and love every minute of it! I am not worried about what others may think of me, I am just me, and I like that. So enjoy who you are now, and as life moves on, you won’t regret it. 🙂

  4. Agree! As a mom of 4 in my 30’s I have come to learn that life is about more than what I look like & what people think of me. I like to wear makeup & dress nice, but when I dont have time, I’ve decided I dont care. If I ruined someones day because they had to see me looking so unstylish, I guess thats too bad for them!

  5. I think what you are writing about is not letting yourself go. It is about being comfortable in your own skin. I sure am, although it was not always so. I have a mum uniform too (playground and messy play friendly clothes) and a small selection of clothes I can wear to work and look presentable enough.

  6. I somehow hit this phase in college.. ha!! I used to be weirdly obsessed with making sure my eyelashes were curled and mascara was on in high school, and paid more attention to what I wore. That ended once I hit college and was working while taking classes full-time and volunteering! Thankfully that means my husband never had to adjust his expectations – I’ve always been a jeans, sweatshirt, ponytail type of girl (and if I have mascara on, it means we’re taking a rare date night OR I’m taking blog pictures, haha, but even those are not guarantees)

  7. Oh totally! I’ve let go of caring what other people think, and loving being me instead. If letting go is having the confidence to be comfortable in my own skin (finally!) and dressing for me (and occasionally dressing to get a smile out of my girls ;-)) then I have let go too. Most days, I can’t be bothered to wear any jewelry. And make-up – like you, I never used to leave the house without it…heaven forbid I blind someone with my hideousness…what was I thinking! Now, I often wear no make up at all, but sometimes I wear it with bright red lippy, if my heart should so desire. But clothes….my current mum-uniform (which changes in it’s random eccentricness weekly) consists of my corduroy culottes, gold sneakers, and probably a bit of neoprene. Years ago, I would have reigned myself in for fear of standing out or worrying what people thought. I’m sure I will be causing my girls a lot of grief in several years time.

  8. I’m a bit of an opposite. I was always a lip gloss and mascara girl in my 20s but in my 30s I find myself spending a lot more time on my beauty routine. Not necessarily makeup, but skincare and deep conditioning and all that jazz.

  9. I don’t agree. Your first paragraph hooked me right in as I had the same thoughts with my own mom. She was stunning. She had a Betty Grable figure until her fifties despite having eight children. She loved “looking good” and wearing nice clothing, doing her hair and nails, makeup was all part of that. I also remember sitting on the edge of the bed and thinking she was the most feminine beautiful woman I had ever seen. I was enchanted watching her get ready for an evening out. But that is where our opinions of “letting ourselves go” stops.

    My mom had her nails and hair done every week in the nursing home until she passed away. I paid for it and she totally looked forward to it despite some dementia and illness. Did she care what others thought? At 83, are you kidding? For her and myself it was just the way it was. We were both from the Deep South and a proper lady just did not get out of bed and not put herself together. It was more a cultural thing for us.

    I don’t feel we need to see this as a topic with only two sides. There can be depth to the reasoning behind why we “bother” and it’s not always as simple as caring or not caring what others do or don’t think. I’ve known numerous women over the years who have not been totally happy with their weight and have had great difficulty losing it.They are also extremely well put together, the whole bit, what you would call very well dressed. And I think it is a delight to see women of all shapes enjoying fashion and trends. I’ve known younger women and much older women who fit this category. I am just giving this as an example, yet another reason why we may or may not “bother”, not a judgement call.

    I do hope that the choice to “totally let go” of ones efforts at fashionable standards is not seen as a ticket to a bit of social elevation above those that do make a daily effort to do what makes them feel comfortable and good when they face the world. I am sensing that a bit here. Different choices for different people who are motivated
    by a variety of reasons – we need to respect that in all.

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