Let’s clarify from the start. I’m not suggesting we “let ourselves go”. Whatever that term means for you. And I’m not referring to personal hygiene. This is just about grooming. All those extra rituals we do: shaving, waxing, plucking, makeup, blow drying, curling, straightening, lotions, sprays, nails, etc. The. List. Is. Endless. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And you know I’m mainly talking to women here, although I know some men feel the pressure too. But where is that pressure coming from?
I’m asking us to question it ALL. Take a hard look at why we’re doing these things. Is it because we think we have to or should? Or do we really want to do them? Really? Are these things even necessary? Who said? Let’s not get into blaming our parents or society to make ourselves feel better. That’s the easy way out. The point is, if these grooming practices are brining you joy, real internal joy, or elevating your mental and emotional wellbeing, go for it. If after truthfully answering these questions, you feel a resounding no, or you’re feeling stress and anxiety around your grooming habits, let them go.
I know firsthand, these are surface level matters that can evoke deep convictions about what’s “appropriate”. For example, one winter, to my husband’s horror, I grew out my armpit hair just to see how long it would get. At a party, I told a not-so-close friend about it and she said, “Oh my god Veronica, I shave every day!” Oh. (Nervously gulp wine.) Turn away. We were on opposite ends of a very hairy spectrum. And in case you’re wondering, my hair got pretty long. Long enough to stick out from under a fitted t-shirt!
Don’t get me wrong though, I used to buy into it ALL. I tanned, dyed my hair blond, painted my nails religiously, blow dried and curled every day, and wouldn’t go anywhere without makeup. Note the picture circa 2004 (age 21). Tan, blond, shiny, and probably a little drunk. Not to say that if you do these things you’re “wrong”. Not at all. We each need to decide for ourselves what we feel is necessary and what truly makes us feel confident in our skin. And allow that to evolve and change as we grow. However, I’m suggesting that we truthfully answer the question, “Does this matter?”
Do you think you’ll be worrying on your deathbed saying, I should have…
…dyed my roots?
…painted my nails teal?
…wore more makeup?
…shaped my eyebrows?
I sure hope not.
My transition to a less high maintenance, simpler way of life began in 2011 when I started a Kundalini Yoga training program. It helped me shed a lot of beliefs about what I thought was necessary in my life, but in reality weren’t bringing me any joy at all. This internal shedding process naturally reflected in an outward shedding as well. Truthfully, this shedding started earlier and was a bit more gradual. I haven’t tanned in more than a decade, wore nail polish in more than five years, or dyed my hair in three.
Then in 2014, I had a child. Not sure I need to say anything more, but for those without children, let’s just say, my expectations for what constitute necessary grooming dramatically decreased. Do you feel me mamas? Now if I shower every 2-3 days, daily brush my teeth, and remember to put on deodorant, I’m feeling really on top of it. Forget makeup. That’s for weddings and birthday parties. Even when I do wear makeup, which I now consider to be only eye liner and mascara, I just end up smearing it because I forget it’s there. This year I also strategically cut my hair so that I don’t have to blow dry it in order for it to look decent. I mostly sleep on it wet, get up, and go.
You know what’s been the best part of this shedding process though? I discovered I really love the natural color of my hair, a color which I had forgotten. My nails are beautiful without polish (after the yellow tarnish went away). And when well rested, my skin radiates without makeup. Note the picture circa 2015 (age 32). Although I’m not totally all natural all the time, and I don’t feel beautiful every moment of the day, I’ve just learned to relax a little and not rely so much on my outward appearance for my inward validation.
So why take the time to think about this at all?
We do it to free our time and mental energy to create space for the things that really matter in life. Every bit counts when it comes to how we are spending our precious, limited time on Earth. Let’s not waste one more second doing things we don’t really want to do or that don’t bring us endless joy. Because if it won’t matter in the end, it doesn’t matter now. And as Buddha said, “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” Let’s do more of that and less worrying about how we look.