Why Bother?

Blue Sky wallpaper

As I get older, I realize that my body requires more and more upkeep. Some of that is down to my own ignorance; I washed my face with Dial soap until I was about 27 and wondered why I had so many zits. Now I use facial cleanser and moisturizer. Some of it is also down to personal preference; I am only now becoming curious about makeup, and I’m absolutely floored by how time consuming a minimal cosmetics routine can be.

But some of it is just aging. I need to stretch a lot longer before my workouts if I don’t want to injure myself, I need to eat more carefully if I don’t want to upset my suddenly-sensitive digestion, I need to moisturize my feet in summer and my elbows in winter, do an apple cider vinegar rinse every month for my dandruff, and slather myself in sunscreen every damned day. It feels like a lot of work. And there are entire worlds of body and style maintenance that I’ve never even glimpsed.

And sometimes, when I’m curled up in bed listening to the alarm clock yammer at me about getting up, I think, “Why bother? Why not just throw on a sweater and jeans, put my hair in a ponytail, and slog into work un-showered? Who would care, or even notice a difference?” Sometimes when it’s 30 below and I’ve had a long day, I look at my gym bag and think, “Why bother? One less workout isn’t going to make a difference.” Sometimes I look at my unruly and deeply high-maintenance mop and think, “Why bother? I’ve got hats.”

And if I kept up every bit of maintenance every single day, I’d be a DEEPLY unpleasant human being. So I don’t. I cut myself slack on occasion and drift into anti-upkeep. But, inevitably, I go back to my routines and invest the time and energy to maintaining my body, my look, myself.

And here’s why I bother:

  • I only get one body, and I want it to last.
  • When I look good, I feel good.
  • If I don’t take my ass to the dentist, eat my vegetables, and exercise my muscles, nobody’s gonna do it for me.
  • Dressing and style are an invigorating creative outlet for me.
  • Caring for myself is part and parcel with respecting myself.
  • Self-care is cumulative, so the more I do it, the better off I’ll be.
  • Learning to flatter my figure helps me love my body.
  • I love to feel strong – both physically and psychologically.
  • I’m worth it.

That last one may have been co-opted by a cosmetics firm ages ago, but I believe it is the most important reason to bother. There are thousands of people, activities, and concepts that demand my attention. Naysayers would have me believe that dedicating too much attention to self-care and maintenance is vain, self-centered, futile, and wasteful. But I know better. I cannot do a thing for anyone else if my own resources are tapped, my own health compromised, my own confidence waning. I come first, and I am worth every second of time and iota of effort that I put into myself.

So are you, every one of you. Being a healthy human being, a stylish woman, a well-groomed person … you could fill your days with the tasks that make these things possible, and empty your coffers procuring the associated products. Many celebrities do just that, and we foolishly hold ourselves to their impossible standards. It can get overwhelming, and striking a balance is vital. But never feel guilty for making time to do yoga, even if it means the kids have to entertain themselves for an hour. Never let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve a new lipstick after a crappy day at the office. Never beat yourself up for taking an interest in personal style or investing time in learning flattering your figure.

Because self-care is the work of life, and you, my darling, are 100% worth it.

Image source

Originally posted 2010-03-18 05:54:00.

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50 Responses to “Why Bother?”

  1. Charlotte

    Indeed. A friend who's 5 years older than I am said it pissed her off that she had to work so hard at the gym to stay in the same place she'd been when she was younger without even working out. Of course you don't HAVE to do it. Plenty of people don't. And you can see how that looks, and choose it, or not. It's the same with what goes on inside. You can work on your brain or let it lie fallow. You can read a book that will help you grow intellectually or watch mindless TV. Bottom line is, who do you want to be?

  2. eek

    Great post. Although I have been slacking the working out department lately…this time change is killing me (i.e. I don't like to get out of bed when it's still dark outside!). But I totally agree – we only have one body one life, better take care of it while we can!

  3. La Historiadora de Moda

    "Caring for myself is part and parcel with respecting myself." I couldn't agree with this sentiment more, Sal. Although I eat far too much ice cream in the spring and summer and cheese in general, I think it's important to realize we each only have one body and that to not nourish it, clean it, work it, pamper it is short-changing ourselves.

  4. Stef D

    Thank you for this post. It's exactly what I needed to hear today. Great job, as always.

  5. Kristen

    Making the effort makes me feel good, and sometimes I need that more on certain days and less on others, so I adjust. Feeling like you look good is also very empowering for self esteem.

    (Ironically, the word verification for this comment is: stryper) Nice.

  6. K.Line

    I read this while applying antiwrinkle lip gloss and lipstick. But I didn't wash my hair this morning. 🙂

    In truth, all my potions and regimes are utterly timeconsuming and tiresome. But they work.

  7. LPC

    Yes, as I've gotten older, and it becomes impossible to achieve the cosmetic ideal, I have substituted health as the motivator. Not that I don't care any more about how I look, just that I know the real impact from eating well, self-care, and exercise, will be how I feel.

  8. ~Hurricane B~

    I agree, whole heartedly! We have to treat our bodies like a temple, to be cliche a bit. But even a temple gets roughed up a bit. I guess we all have to find that balance. But it is something I am struggling with right now, work, school, life…makes you want to be comfy and lazy. You always seem to posts the right post at the right time.

  9. Andie

    this is a great post, Sally. So true!

    Thanks for writing this piece!

  10. kateherself

    Beautiful outfit and beautiful post.
    Thank you for inspiring me.

  11. Lorena

    Super, super post !
    The best part is that IT IS SOOO TRUE.
    My body is the spaceship I travel in….

  12. letterstobetsy

    I do agree. I get into funks where I just would rather wear sweats, t-shirts and flip flops. I know that is just not possible. I am not in high school or college and have to shower and get dressed and gosh put on makeup even haha! I am glad I am not the only one out there who has a case of the lazies.
    Great post!

  13. Sheila

    Hear hear! Thank you for the timely reminder, Sal. Some days it just feels like so much effort, but it's worth it…I'M worth it.

  14. futurelint

    Yay! This totally made my day and it's only 9:30am! The part about it being cumulative is so true and my motivation to keep exercising… otherwise all that work I've done, all those hours I put in, all those miles I ran, will be worth nothing in a month or two… it will all just collapse. But when I keep going, I just get stronger and stronger. It really is my best motivator! I don't want to have to start over when I'm 30. or 40. or ever, really!

  15. Denise

    Re: respecting yourself. When we look like we respect ourselves, or give a damn, others respond to that positively. On the other hand, if we're advertising "why bother?" often that's what kind of attitude we'll find in others. I love the idea of the body as temple. Though aging and crumbling and fading (as all of us do), our temple still deserves honor and care and love, doesn't it?

  16. Rad_in_Broolyn

    Thanks for this wonderful encouragement. Sometimes, I feel so silly for engaging in self care- vain, self absorbed, and unserious, but you're absolutely right. If I don't take care of me, I'm useless to everyone around me whose lives I also contribute to you. Taking care of ourselves is necessary to being self-less. Plus, I think that this can help us serve as great role models for young girls too, who struggle more with self esteem than us older ladies.
    Thanks for brightening up my tired mood this morning!

  17. thenewprofessional

    Well said! It's really hard for me to remember these things (and I'm only 26) but this post was really great.

  18. Kira

    So true how caring for yourself can get lost in just living. Yes, taking care of yourself is actually helping you to live instead of just going though the motions of life. Oh, and thanks for reminding me – I need to make that annual dentist appointment 😉

  19. Middle Aged Woman

    That picture of you is hot. I think the work I have to invest just feels like part of being a grown-up.

  20. Dawn

    Hi, I'm a new reader here and I just wanted to say I loved what you said here. I was reading it, wondering how you read my mind, with the "why bother" question. 😉 Great answers.

  21. lisa

    Amen, sister! Even if others don't notice I certainly do. Getting dressed and putting on makeup in the mornings is like getting ready to face the day for me; it prepares me physically and makes me feel good so I can perform mentally and not worry about how I look or feel.

  22. tula

    Yep, we are worth it. Strangely weird to be empowered by a marketing tagline, but hey…it's a good one.

  23. Cat

    Bravo! This is something of which I need to remind myself now and then, and I bet I'm not the only one.

    Thanks for reminding us, Sal 🙂


    I really like this post. As a gal of a high-maintenance age, I have taken the no-maintenance road before and you are right, it makes me feel terrible! So, I slather on the anti-drooping mud , the anti-aging masks and wash that gray right out of my hair, for me ! Why ? Because I'm worth it ! 😉

  25. tippchic

    This is a really good post- I agree there are days when I wonder why I bother to make an effort.
    But I DESERVE it.. and I have kids who need to see me respecting myself and learn how to do the same for themselves.

  26. Dorky Medievalist

    Great post. I think your mention of celebrities is especially pertinent. In many ways, the gym and beauty is integral to their job whereas my job has other stuff integral to it. If I don't look like [insert celebrity stick insect here] it's because my job does not allow for 4 hours a day at the gym and a personal trainer. My job does allow for an early morning run. And mascara only if I feel like it. And I am luckier for that.

    I used to do a 5am run with a naturopathic doctor and his favourite catch phrase has always stuck with me, and has always made me smile: "Running: good for your sleep and good for your bowels." Absolutely true. (Is that too gross for the internet?)

  27. Lisa

    Great post. I was debating about whether or not to go to the gym and this was just the motivation I needed to push myself to go. Thank you!

  28. Tianasaurus.

    I've been reading your blog for months, consistently finding inspiration here to help me through the day. This post prompted me to comment for the first time and let you know that you've done it again. The next time I'm dithering over whether or not to go to yoga when there are heaps of other things I 'should' be doing, I'll remember to cut myself some slack. Take care of yourself and your life will be stronger for it.

  29. WendyB

    I'm getting back into exercising mode. I was going every day (well, unless I was sick) for years and then I totally got disrupted in October after I had some emotional trauma! I couldn't get out of bed. Finally getting back into the swing of things.

    I've definitely noticed that with age, you have to work harder at it, too and I haven't been motivated for that for a while either.

  30. tiffany

    And you, I have to say, are wonderful! What a lovely, self-affirming post.

  31. Kirsten @ BarkingDogShoes

    Great post. I used to be able to get away with no makeup but now I look sallow and blah without it. Considering I have multiple autoimmune diseases that try their level best to bring me down,often I feel like giving in and staying in my sweatpants and looking like a frump. But then I pull myself together, take a warm shower and grab my stand-by products that make me feel better:
    Cetaphil cleanser, cherry chapstick, Stila convertible color for cheeks in Lillium or Peony, Clinique teddy bear quad for eyes.

  32. J. Qi

    I like this. And I only realized a couple of weeks ago exactly how much it matters to take care of myself and to be a little self-centered.

  33. Courtney

    Hey Sal–

    Great post! By the by–if you keep up your makeup routine, it will start to go faster. If you've never really worn makeup, you're probably not at the level of confidence to just whip on eyeliner & mascara quickly. My makeup routine takes about 10 minutes as long as I'm actually awake, but it used to take me much longer.

  34. Kate Coveny Hood

    That's probably one of your best pictures – love the light in it. And all of this is so true…I think we can all relate.

    But terrible word verification: "hating" – seriously, a real word and an unpleasant one at that…

  35. Audi

    Hear hear! Do you also find that the better you treat yourself, the better treatment you command from others? I know that when I pamper myself and am at my most confident, I am far less likely to allow other people to get away with treating me poorly or making me feel bad.

  36. Rachel

    I agree with Audi. My work has been stressful recently, so I've made an extra-special effort to dress up/do my hair. It's nice to get compliments, but the best bit is the confidence boost it gives me. Feeling put together = confidence, for me.

  37. TD

    Sal, your words are tonic for me right now. Of all the profound news I have read today, these are the best words. Thanks!

  38. Nina

    You should NEVER stretch before working out. Your muscles aren't warmed up and you can actually cause injuries. If you must stretch, do your warm up first, then stretch.