“She really let herself go.” How often do we hear people say this about women? Maybe her body shape is different than it used to be. Maybe she doesn’t get her hair cut regularly. Maybe she wears sweats and t-shirts now or doesn’t wear make-up anymore. Maybe it’s all of these. Maybe she has let herself go. And if she has, shouldn’t we be cheering with a pounding fist “HALLAFUCKINGLOOYA! SHE LET HERSELF GOOOOOO!”?
I’m not talking about women who are living with depression or other mental illness and don’t have the will to do things that make them feel good. I’m talking about the women who have transcended the default and assumed role of being here on Earth to be sexually appealing. The ones who understand that selflessness is not a virtue and that we might have to be really “loud” for a while. I’m referring to those awesome and incredible women who have let themselves go and are living joyous and wholehearted lives because of it.
Some of us may live in fear of hearing those words said about ourselves. I know I have. “Wow, have you seen Jen Keefe lately? She has really let herself go. So sad. She used to be so thin and pretty.”
I used to dread someone saying this about me. But letting myself go is turning out to be the thing that is making life worth living.
You Maybe be Wondering How I Let Myself Go.
Well, I’m going to tell you.
I let myself go by deciding to throw away my Spanx and never buy another pair of shapewear as long as I live.
I let myself go by permanently wearing clothes that are comfortable and feel good on me instead of fabric that will cover up the pieces of me deemed undesirable by others.
I let myself go by internalizing that it is not my job to show up in this world pretty.
I let myself go by realizing that I am too much- I feel too much, think too much, wonder too much, and talk too much. “Too much” is relative to how I am “supposed” to be as a woman.
I let myself go by being grateful to be able to be too much.
I let myself go by realizing that sometimes I’ll say dumb stuff. I’ll offend people. I’ll be ignorant and share that out loud. I’ll be embarrassed when I learn why the thing I said was offensive and learn what I need to so that I better understand.
I let myself go by learning I am worthy of forgiveness.
I let myself go by being silly and saying “yes” to play that I think is fun; like learning the Rumba while waiting in line at Trader Joe’s.
I let myself go by deciding I would write again… even though my grammar and proofreading are atrocious and the grammar police will continue to try to quiet me.
I let myself go by realzing that I have things I want to say, even if I put a comma in the wrong place again, and again, and again.
I let myself go by no longer trying to do it all and learning that laundry and cooking and cleaning really are things humans need to do and that they do not requre a specific piece of anatomy to manage.
I let myself go by not explaining my side of the story and being okay with people thinking they know what I mean.
I let myself go by by not apologizing when I don’t owe one, not laughing at jokes I don’t find funny, and by not letting people off the hook with a chuckle when their arrogance tries to quell me.
I let myself go by throwing away my scale when my daughter was born.
I let myself go by moving through the world comfortable in and proud of the body I live in- exaclty as it is.
I let myself by saying “yes” to Cotton Candy.
I let myself go by wearing a bathing suit to the beach and to the pool and using my energy to have a blast with my kids instead of trying to make myself less visible.
I let myself go by participaing fully in conversations instead of wondering if my back fat is covered up well enough.
I let myself go by cutting out alcohol for a really long time.
I let myself go by belly laughing when I am moved to even when it is louder and longer than everyone else. And when I wake at three AM embarrassed that I was so fully myself, I let myself go again by remembering that my laughter is worthy of creating sound in this world.
I let myself go by knowing I will never, ever try to lose weight again in my life and by knowing that a healthy body includes a healthy soul.
I let myself go by loving myself madly not in spite of the mistakes and bad choices I’ve made, but including them.
I let myself go so much that I love showing up in the world just as I am. Most times that’s in shorts and a t-shirt and sometimes it’s wearing make-up, earrings, and a scarf.
I let myself go by seeing the box that is trying to keep a border around me, contain me…push me down to stay inside! I let myself go by taking away the power of its notions of who I am supposed to be- simply by naming them.
I let myself go and let myself go and let myself go until all of a sudden I knew who I was.
I let myself go and let myself go and let myself go until my worth became so high that my way of living became comfortable, uncaged, hopeful, and joyful.
So now when I hear someone say that so and so has let herself go, I will not be disturbed. Once I know that so and so has let herself go by choice I will cheer her on with abandon. I will celebrate that she too has realized there are far more wonderful things to do in this world than to be blocked in by who she is “supposed” to be. I will revel in the joy that comes from another human -another woman- choosing to let herself go.
And should you hear someone say “wow, have you seen Jen Keefe? She really let herself go.” I hope you will celebrate with me. Let the smile spread across your face and respond “yeah. I sure have. Isn’t it fantastic?” Because now you know it was the letting myself go that started my living.
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