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Are you “letting yourself go”?

by Amanda on February 25, 2008
category: Inspiration

suavestill.jpg I love the Suave commercial with the woman who instantly changes before our eyes as she goes through marriage and three pregnancies. After the first two pregnancies she has “let herself go” exhibited by her not dressing up to take out the trash and wearing a bunny suit. Then after washing her hair with Suave, she is instantly beautiful and pregnant with the third. I enjoy the art direction of the commercial, but the idea that a shampoo will make me look instantaneously gorgeous is a bit silly. Actually now that I think about it I do look a lot better after a shower.

The commercial claims “89% percent of moms admit to letting themselves go.” Really? That many? I find it hard to believe. What does “letting yourself go” mean anyway? I think it means that you don’t take pride in the way you look anymore when you once did. We have all seen the moms on Oprah, What Not to Wear, and every other make-over show showing moms that only wear sweats, won’t put anything on her face besides Chapstick, and her signature hair style is a ponytail. It makes for great t.v., but does that represent most moms?

I believe that many people think that moms have to dress like we did before we had kids to show that we haven’t “let ourselves go.” When in fact it is that our work uniforms have changed. I don’t have to wear a starched ironed shirt to play with my baby everyday. When I worked in an office I had to dress up in skirts, heels, and hosiery. Now when I shop I don’t have to think, “Is this appropriate for the office?” I can buy anything. It’s awesome.

There is a slippery slope to choosing anything you want to wear. A nice pair and jeans and a nice shirt can turn into a holey pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and then into pajamas all day. Not that there is anything wrong with staying in your jammies all day, as long as you stay at home! If I venture out of the house, I make sure to put on a nice pair of pants and a decent shirt. Getting showered, dressed, and blow-drying my hair is difficult when my baby is crying in her excersaucer, but taking that time is worth it. I feel awake and better about myself. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I have more children, but I hope that I always take pride in the way the way I look.

I recently watched this video of Tim Gunn talking about being fashionable on a budget.

He said, “ We have become a nation of slobs. Now I maintain if comfort is your only fashion guide, then 
fashion will always elude you. You will never capture it. There is something about being little cinched and a little starched and put together that is contrary to what it feels like to wear sweats all day. If you want to dress as if you just got out of bed, don’t get out of bed!”

I think it is important be a “little cinched and a little starched and put together” to help you maintain a sense of self-confidence in yourself. It doesn’t take a lot to look “put together.” I recently had an email exchange with the astonishing Gala Darling at galadarling.com. She often gives out fashion advice. Her style (and views) are not my style, but I appreciate her perspective and infinite knowledge of fashion. In the email I off-handily asked her about writing a post on her blog on how moms can dress in a hurry and stay cool.

She replied, “Oh, & I think the thing with being a stylish mom is about having a “uniform” that works — flattering jeans, a great sweater or coat, good boots — & then accessorizing like mad. Wear a great hat or a cool scarf, a beautiful charm bracelet or a precious necklace. Use the accessories to differentiate yourself from the other mothers!”

This is awesome advice! I felt validated that I could wear a great pair of jeans all the time. Pretty accessories don’t have to cost a fortune either. You just need to find the “uniform” that works for your own individual style. It is not hard to look like you never “let yourself go” when you make a little effort to take pride in your own beautiful body.

  • To view the Suave commercial online go to Suave.com, click on “Our Story,” then “Advertising,” and then “Anthem.”

23 Responses to Are you “letting yourself go”?

  • Comment by Sharon M
    February 25, 2008 @ 2:24 am

    I’ve never really been that snazzy of a dresser — after I graduated college, I worked at a dentist office and my uniform was a set of scrubs. EVERY DAY. The big difference was I had to wear make-up too, which I didn’t really like, but I got so used to it that even now, I won’t leave the house w/o at least some mascara and a little lip gloss.
    I actually think my fashion sense has improved greatly, mostly b/c I care (more than I used to) about how I look. And I’ve learned how to iron :-) Maybe part of it comes from living in the Middle East, where women are ALWAYS put together and the only time you see them in sweats is when they’re hanging around the house. Every time they go out, they dress nicely. So I try to do the same. It’s amazing how wearing boots and a scarf instead of tennis shoes and a t-shirt with a pair of jeans really dresses up an outfit!

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    Comment by Marye~
    February 25, 2008 @ 10:46 am

    My ‘uniform’ has changed many times through out the years. I was preppy in high school, a hippie in college, professional at work, and now yes, I have become that slob. I am trying! My 11 year old ask why I was putting on mascara to go to wal-mart, said most people wear their pj when they shop. I said that’s exactly why, I don’t want to look like I just rolled out of bed.
    Here to trying!

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    Comment by natalie
    February 25, 2008 @ 11:41 am

    I would like to say, “No way. I have not let myself go”, but sometimes I wonder if I just think that and everyone else is wishing I would do something with myself. I do have to say that being pregnant again has changed things. I simply don’t care that much because I feel gross.

    I think definitely that I don’t keep up with myself as much as I used to. I’m lucky if II get to wash my face every night.

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    Comment by Deb
    February 25, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    I had the guilt thing going and thought that if I spent time making myself look decent, that was time and focus away from the kids.

    But about a year ago, I started “trying” again (fixing the hair, wearing heels once in a while) and I do feel better, which translates to me being a better mom.

    I CAN however fall into the trap of focusing too much on myself — shopping for the perfect outfit, spending too much time online looking for killer shoes, etc. So for me, it’s a delicate balance.

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    Comment by Amy
    February 25, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

    I am currently on maternity leave after the birth of my second daughter. I am finding that it is super easy to “let myself go” being at home most of the time. I honestly have to force myself to get out of my jammies some days. I have made a rule that as soon as I dress my older daughter, I have to dress myself. I have heard recommendations that you force yourself to put on “real shoes” every day to ensure that you are not in your slippers all day. I have to admit though, as I sit typing this, I am wearing slippers. LOL! Luckily I am not inmy jammies.

    I think I will improve my “look” when I return to work in 2 weeks. I will be forced to shower daily (right now, it is every other day) and to dress up. Slowly, I may actually add in makeup to the mix. Isn’t that terrible. Getting my haircut before my return will help as well.

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    Comment by Jenny
    February 25, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

    I think there are definately times that I wish I looked prettier. Right now in my “make-up bag” I have lip balm and a tube of 2-year-old mascara. I tell you at times I am envious of my husband’s wardrobe because at least he has some nice clothes to go out in. Because I stay home with the kids, we don’t have a whole lot of extra $$$ to spend on things to make me feel pretty. On top of that I still have about five lbs. to lose from when I was pregnant with Frida (1 year ago!!) and I just don’t feel that attractive.
    I hear you, Amanda. It’s a choice. We need to spend time investing in ourselves. For me that just feels close to imposible sometimes.

  • Comment by Amanda
    February 25, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

    @Jenny – I hear you! It is hard. Just this month I asked to put thirty bucks in the budget so I could find me some “nice” jeans. It is certainly hard when your body doesn’t feel back to normal. I am finally feeling normal after Ace was born almost ten months ago. It’s such a crappy stage to be in. I hope it phases out quickly and those last five pounds miraculously disappear for you soon!!

  • Comment by McKenna
    February 25, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

    During the week, I have a hard time with this. I sport my daily ponytail, jeans and t-shirts. I have been slacking in the make-up during the week, but to be honest, part of me is glad I’m not wearing make-up every day…even though that probably doesn’t make any sense. On the weekends, I step it up and feel like I make a solid effort. It’s going to take a lot of motivation to make me “try” during the week…especially as the hot south Texas weather approaches. The hotter it is, the less I care about how I dress or look! I’ve also been going to the gym quite a bit during the week, and it’s hard to get pre-dressed or re-dressed nice on gym days.

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    Comment by Heidi
    February 25, 2008 @ 6:53 pm

    I’ve definitely become way more relaxed since having kids and staying home. I am a ponytail, no makeup, sweats, t-shirt girl when I’m home. It freaks me out when I have a visitor unannounced. Running errands requires me to step it up by ditching the sweats for a pair of jeans. I do make the effort for church and occasional get-togethers with friends.

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    Comment by Dawn
    February 25, 2008 @ 11:05 pm

    Phew! I’m all over the map on this topic… on one hand, I’m like BRING ON THE COMFORT. But then I agree with everything in this post, too.

    I’m a jeans girl through & through, always have been, always will be. If I’m going somewhere I put on something extra special, like a fun jacket, a cool purse, or an attention-getting hair accessory (colorful headband, scarf, what have you).

    I agree that putting myself together affects my attitude, but I also feel so relaxed when I don’t fix up my hair all perfectly. I’m a big fan of pigtail braids, wearing funky hats, and covering the “bad hair day” with a bandana. More often than not that’s how people see me nowadays.

    I have prioritized regular working out rather than looking fab, so that means I might choose to look grungy in order to be ready for a workout later, do you know what I mean? So when I saw pics of me that my mom took this weekend, I felt fantastic, because I have lost weight! It’s a miracle. And today, I didn’t spend more than 1 minute on my hair, but I got the run in! No regrets.

    I have more or less stopped wearing makeup since my second child was born. I’m okay with that. People have actually complimented me so much on this. But I do like the way I look in pictures when I have makeup on, so I try to put on a dab here or there. I’m with Jenny – my mascara is SO OLD!! :)

  • Comment by Amanda
    February 25, 2008 @ 11:19 pm

    I just feel like this is such a hot button topic, because of all the make-over stuff on t.v. and magazines pressuring us. Also, because of our own body and financial struggles. I hope this post, doesn’t make any feel guilty. I think it is important to get to place where you are comfortable with yourself and style.

    I struggle with this too. I don’t dress up at home, but really try to look decent when I head out of the house. I am surprised by how I am wearing less make up these days. (Although, mine always rubs off and never looks like I had any on anyway.) I still carry around my powder and lipstick in my purse. Its cheaper make-up now that I stay home too.

    Dawn, I am so with you!! I often don’t shower, knowing that I am heading to the gym later that day. Or I won’t make it to the gym, because I already showered. Ugh.

    Has anyone ever tried waking up before the kids to get showered and dressed? That is my dream goal, but I make no effort to achieve it.

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    Comment by Trina
    February 26, 2008 @ 12:03 am

    @ Amanda..are you kidding? If Brielle sleeps in I am right in my bed sleeping in to. I think rest in far more important for us than getting a shower first thing. I normally get myself ready for the day when Brielle takes her first nap. That way we both stay in our pj’s and play all morning. I feel like a better mom because I get to play with her on her level right now and not worry if someone rings the door bell they will find me in my pj’s with my daughter and my dog and we are having a good time.
    But I love What Not to Wear and I try very hard when I go out to be dressed in clothing that I know will not get me on the show!! No Mom Jeans for me.

  • Comment by Sharon M
    February 26, 2008 @ 11:12 am

    I want to make it clear that I had no where to go but up when I had kids. I wore PJs to school in college for heaven’s sake, complete w/ bunny slippers! And scrubs to work everyday, which is almost as comfortable.
    Sometimes a lot of this also depends on the example of your mom when you were growing up (or maternal figure, depending on your situation). My mom was never a dressy kind of gal. She’s a sporty, tom-boy sort who doesn’t wear make-up. She’s not sloppy, just not super fashion-conscience. I’m the same way.
    What about y’all? Has your mom influenced this part of your life?

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    Comment by Trina
    February 26, 2008 @ 11:51 am

    Yes my mom is a big influence on everything especially how I dress and take care of myself. She taught me how to wear just enough make up as well as dressing for your age. I am so disappointed with I see 13 year old girls dressing like 21 year olds. She did it all in a way that I hope to for my daughter, my Mother is truly my hero and best friend.

  • Comment by Amelia
    February 26, 2008 @ 11:55 am

    I have totally let myself go at times too! I am all over the map kind of like Dawn.

    Since neither of the boys like to get dressed in the morning and it is a battle to get them dressed more mornings than not I force myself to get dressed too so I can be an example to them. If I am not going anywhere on a particular day then I usually wear yoga or “apartment” pants and a sweatshirt. If I am going somewhere then I will put on some normal clothes–jeans and a cute top but no fancy shoes or anything. Snow boots are practical up here!

    I find the best thing for me to not let myself go to rags everyday is to have a cute haircut. If my hair is long then pony tail it is. So I have a short-low maintenance do right now. That means I am more prone to wearing a little makeup–at least lip gloss. I have one in about in all my winter jackets (a variety due to the weather).

    I use a bandana for the days I don’t have time to blowdry my hair or straighten it.

    On the days I do workout I don’t care if I have showered in the morning or not. It is sometimes a de-motivator to working out but a shower in the morning wakes me up. Sometimes I can’t start the day without it or I am one cranky mama!

    No way am I getting up before the kids are up at this point in my life. Maybe when the baby is sleeping 12 hours in a few months! I love my sleep toooooo much!

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    Comment by Dawn
    February 26, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    I just wanted to add one more thing: the phrase “letting yourself go” is so derogatory, it has always rubbed me the wrong way. I prefer to think of it as, “moms who make changes in order to save their sanity”. :)

  • Comment by Amanda
    February 26, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

    @Dawn – I know!! That is why I said, “What does “letting yourself go” mean anyway?” I agree, it has a derogatory connotation.

    My baby just threw up all over me this morning and I really thought to myself “this why I don’t dress up at home!”

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    Comment by Dawn
    February 26, 2008 @ 2:06 pm

    aw, sorry about the vomitous morning. those are never fun. was it right after you showered? ha ha, when eli does that to me, i think one of two things: a. good thing i’m about to take a shower, or b. you’re killing me, smalls! i just took a shower!

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    Comment by melia
    February 26, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

    Amanda, I think your statement about getting to a place where you feel comfortable with your style says it best. Don’t let the tv shows tell you how you’re supposed to look. Who’s the target market? What priorities do they suggest you have?

    But who am I to talk? I’ve never been much of a primper. Like Sharon, my ma was never a girly girl… and I’m sure I wore PJs in public in the 90s too… I’ve never gotten the fixup stuff down to a science, and I don’t really care; I find other things to do with my time.

    So that’s it, moms — if you look in the mirror and think to yourself “I look terrible”, then try to find some time to feel pretty. But if you’re catching a glimpse of yourself smiling at the wild, fulfilling ride you’re on, then remember that when you see the “pretty people” — they may look good, but do they have what you have? (Not counting people who can afford to hire someone to apply their makeup while someone else is watching their children…)

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    Comment by Jenny
    March 4, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

    I recently wrote a post about how the media makes moms look like models and how it really isn’t that way in real life. I have to admit, I’ve let myself go a little. But it”s only because I have a three year old who stresses me out and I really don’t ever feel like dressing up for anything or anyone.

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    Comment by lbw
    September 6, 2008 @ 6:34 am

    Just found this post. I’m so glad to find out that I’m not alone!

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    Comment by Jessica H
    March 6, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    I know I’m super delayed in commenting on this but I just came across it. I do miss the days of feeling lovely just for the fun of it and I agree with the comment that “letting yourself go” is derogatory. I suppose I just want to add that being a mom, especially to really little ones, is a dirty job. No one brings plumbers onto makeover shows and tells them to wear slim, dark denim and a nice shirt while on the job. There are days and years ahead of us when spit-up and blow-outs aren’t the norm. There will be years after our last baby is born when our bodies are finally our own again and we can whip our bodies back into shape. But, the little kid years are just a season. While our appearance may make sacrifices due to practicality or sanity (or because that baby is STILL not sleeping through the night), it will not stay like this forever.

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    Comment by Dell
    October 6, 2012 @ 12:39 am

    Hi everybody! The best thing any of us can ever put on is a smile! 2nd to that is putting on something that’s your favorite color. It doesn’t matter if it’s a head wrap or pair of tube socks. That color is your favorite for some reason. Oh yes I’ve had many days when I’m sure somebody thought I was just pathetic looking but that’s just life. When I wear lipgloss I think that’s full makeup for me. Ha! I do my best not to let the media make my decisions for me. It’s ok if you do because sisters we have the freedom to choose. Let’s just love & support one another, eat good food, drink plenty water & laugh as much as possible. I like to garden so most of my clothes are play clothes. When I do see a sister who is looking fashionable I love it & will compliment her. Again, it’s great that we can look like whatever we choose to look like because the most important part of us is not hanging up in our closets but can surely be seen by everyone we come into contact with. A kind spirit looks good with spit up and with skinny jeans! Ha! I love you all!

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