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?