She’s Let Herself Go

When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, my father had a little red book featuring a calorie counter, a cardboard wheel. You turned it to the food item you were contemplating eating, say an apple, and the number of calories would appear in a little window. 100, if I remember correctly, and I think I do, because I spent a lot of time as a teen counting and recording my calories.

            It was a time not so different from the present, when bodies were considered imperfect and needing to be taken in hand. Watched and examined with an exacting eye, pruned and denigrated, gone over with a fine-toothed, angry comb, as if those things would reap anything other than despair. As if those things could make the world a better place to live in.

            “She’s let herself go,” we would say, shaking our heads at the family friend who never lost her pregnancy weight, at the neighbor for whom menopause brought about changes in belly and butt. “She’s really let herself go.”

            Looking in the mirror recently, that phrase drifted into my mind.

            Even now, all this time later, even after all these years of body positivity, of the company of everyone from Susie Orbach (Fat is a Feminist Issue, 1978) to Sonya Renee Taylor (The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, book published in 2018, international movement ongoing), I still glimpsed my lovely body in the mirror and thought, “I’ve really let myself go.”

            I caught myself immediately, happily, no spiraling into misery as might once have happened. And then I started thinking about that phrase. Does letting yourself go have to be a bad thing? The family friend, the neighbor – me – aren’t we all actually letting ourselves and our bodies be? Be exactly where and who we are, right now, right here?

            When you let go, you allow a little more space into your life.

            When you let go, there’s room for different and other and wonderful to show up, and more importantly, room for you to notice them showing up.

            When you let go, your shoulders relax, your face unclenches, you breathe deeply into your beautiful belly.

            It’s not just about your body, either. This culture is obsessed with MAKING YOURSELF A BETTER PERSON. Because for sure, all the ads scream at us, something is definitely wrong with you. For sure there is. And there are products and programs and apps and medicine and on and on that you must purchase and pay attention to, PAY ATTENTION, YOU! that will help steer you right, but only if you pay and only if you work yourself into a frenzy.


            Look up and out. The moon is gorgeous.

            Feel the earth. The Solstice is upon us.

            Put your hand on your heart and know its rhythm. That is the real grounding.

            Give gratitude for your connection with the creatures in your small corner of the world. That is true freedom.

            Darlings and dearests, how precious your bodies, your lives, your interests, your love, your place here among us.          

            Oh, you know it! You know what I’m going to say now. Say it with me:

            Let yourselves go!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on December 20, 2021 at 7:58 AM  Comments (4)  
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