She’s let herself go… #poetry #dVerse

She’s let herself go:
two children
almost 50 years
love and heartache 
lines etched in her face 
can’t be erased now:
she has let herself go.

She’s let herself go:
too many gold hairs turned to grey
has she not heard of hair dye?
Looks as though the answer’s ‘no,’
I say, I say
she’s surely let herself go.

She’s let herself go:
is botox too expensive?
Some women her age really take care of themselves 
and still look quite attractive 
but as for her, well
she has let herself go.

She’s let herself go
to the dogs
perhaps it’s nature’s way:
she’s no longer a viable vessel
so why not let herself go
when she’s no longer of 
procreational value anyway?

She’s let herself go:
far too many chocolate bars
those comfort foods go straight onto her hips.
She never should have let such sweetness pass her lips;
she tries to run, but trips:
she’s let herself go.

She’s let herself go
down to the beach today 
all alone,
no one to bar her way
and topless she dances as the sun kisses
her sunken breasts 
which have nourished two children 

she’s let herself go
exactly where she needs to go,
nobody’s vessel and instead
a Goddess, yes!
So let them all say ‘she has let herself go’
and she’ll tell them all where they can go:
the place, I think you’ll guess.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

How many times have you heard this toxic phrase?

‘She’s let herself go.’ It’s a perfect illustration of how society judges women: not for all the many invaluable jobs they do throughout their lives, or for their human spirit, but on some 1-10 scale of perceived sexual attractiveness. We won’t have anything like equality until we start accepting ourselves the way we are, no matter our age or how many wrinkles or extra pounds we have.

I am sharing this poem with dVerse Open Link Night (Live Edition) where we will be reading our poems. After that, dVerse takes a 2-week summer break. As I have taken part in every single prompt so far this year, I’ve calculated that I’ve written to 72 different prompts and read over 3000 poems! Perhaps it’s time I let myself go for a break. I will still post some poetry, but I’ll be using most of the time to prepare The Anthropocene Hymnal for publication. I hope to announce a publication date soon, so stay tuned for updates!

90 thoughts on “She’s let herself go… #poetry #dVerse

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  1. I absolutely agree! 💝 The use of repetition is beautifully haunting, Ingrid! I was literally on the edge of my seat, savoring every word and nuance, so loved hearing you read tonight 😀

  2. Oh, this all so true, Ingrid. the repetition works so well, and I loved hearing you read it. The ending is wonderful!

    Wow–I can’t believe you’ve done every prompt this year. Good luck with the book!

    1. Thanks Merril. I can’t believe it either, but I do it because I enjoy it 😊 that said, I also need to take a break sometimes 😅

  3. Congrats on writing to every prompt, that’s impressive‼ I will look for the poetry reading youtube link to hear you read this aloud as the repetition and rhymes are so effective. I have been at the doctor with my hubby as he is getting ready to have another knee replacement in a week. Just now back to my laptop!

    1. Oh I hope all goes well with your husband’s operation! There is no video this time as the recording didn’t work. But it was a great night!

  4. So beautifully expresses how women are forever judged as they age (while men are just thought to become distinguished). I really liked this!

    1. Yes, it annoys me a lot. And it’s women just as much as men who do the judging. Which I think means we judge ourselves too harshly!

  5. I am all for taking care of mental and physical health. But no thanks to the botox and other frivolous obsessions with a youthful appearance. Thank you for the supportive poem Ingrid. Brilliantly expressed! <3

    1. Absolutely we should love and take care of our bodies and then we won’t have to worry about what anyone else may think or say!

  6. It’s good to let you or yourself go and be how want to be. We all show strength when we are able abandon society’s requirements or expectations of how we should be or look. It takes courage as well so good on you! Moreover, we have to be careful and watch out for shallowness! After all, shallowness leads to evil…

  7. Ingrid, thank you for this brilliantly expressed poem. <3 I am all in favor of taking care of physical and mental health, but spare me the botox and other frivolous measures for appearance's sake.

  8. Loved this one, Ingrid, both aural and in print. Shared it with My Beloved Sandra, who asked me to share her praise with you here. Thanks. Enjoy your dVerse vacation!

  9. and she’ll tell them all where they can go:
    the place, I think you’ll guess.

    Love the close Ingrid! Tell them off can sometimes be seen as necessary. Often a brave rebuttal may be expected coming on to those with unfair judgmental comments.


  10. I love the message in this piece, Ingrid. It’s very empowering! I would love to learn more about what it was like before she had let herself go–what was the final straw that caused her to say “enough is enough” and so she let herself go?

    1. I think this character had been judging herself against what she perceived were everyone else’s standards. Then one day she’d had enough and decided to let herself go and be happy! Thank you for your kind comment.

  11. this is fabulous Ingrid❣️❣️ I so celebrate this goddess whoever it might be… ❤️🤣…. you and me both) NO botox and letting herself go❣️ I’m with ya…
    loved this and dancing with you💃💃 ….. “no one to bar her way
    and topless she dances as the sun kisses
    her sunken breasts
    which have nourished two children “💖

    1. Haha, I’ve never done that last bit yet, but give it time 😂😂😂 I’m pleased you enjoyed it Cindy ❤️❤️❤️

  12. she’s let herself go
    exactly where she needs to go

    Sometimes, that is what one needs to do, let it go.

    Enjoy your break and best of luck working on your project.

  13. It was good hearing you read this poem and now seeing the written poem. Best wishes with your publishing projections


  14. Creative use of your repeated line. A poem that takes the reader on a journey – a lifetime really. I love how you turned the melancholy tone into one of empowerment. 🌞

      1. Bravo to you for doing so. 👏🏼That phrase, as it is typically used, is insensitive and demeaning. If Sam and I had plans to publish a fourth Being a Woman collection I would ask your permission to feature this empowering poem. No current plans to do so, but I sure love this one.

      2. I will definitely reach out if we go that route. In the meantime… can I share it with Sandra (author I work with)? We typically start each workshop class with a poem and since most of the participants are women, this one would be relatable.

  15. The crone needs to be pulled from the ancient texts and into the present. I do adore your point of view on this, Ingrid. Women are so much more than vessels that need to be kept pretty to meet the approval of the male gaze.

    I’m also looking forward to the 2-week dVerse vaca 🙂

    1. Yes, we need more Wives of Bath! It makes me so sad when I see women on Italian and Spanish TV who are desperately trying to look 20 years younger than they are. Presumably this is the only way they can keep working. But why is that?

      Enjoy the break 😎

  16. Aging in Western culture is especially hard on women, whose appearance is central and made to seem indistinguishable from identity, which it isn’t. There isn’t anything less attractive than one who empties the medical closet to look young again — faces become masks and steel breasts profane their nature. I shouldn’t comment, not my cross (old guys are just that) but I watch my wife grow old as gracefully as she can. Acceptance is difficult but refusing to is worse. This poem celebrates those who let go. – Brendan

    1. I used to dread growing old and get so upset about the appearance of each new wrinkle. I think getting sober helped me realise that these days of letting go are actually happier than those of troubled youth. ‘In spite of age is this thy golden time.’

  17. Wonderful. I am on the same path, and much excited about it. Here’s to all of us letting go and enjoying the contentment and freedom of our natural selves.

  18. As with most women, you judge your looks too harshly. But how can we not see ourselves through the eyes of the cultural ideal? I like the defiance of your ending. We have better things to do. (K)

    1. Thanks Kerfe. The character isn’t me but I have been very self-judgmental in the past. I’m trying to let go of that now.

  19. I knew from the title you were gonna do this, because you’re a poet, and I couldn’t wait to get to this part:

    “She’s let herself go
    down to the beach today
    all alone,
    no one to bar her way
    and topless she dances as the sun kisses
    her sunken breasts
    which have nourished two children”

    What a beautiful, soulful, perfect message. <3

    1. Thank you 🙏 of course it had to come to that, but first I wanted to examine some toxic stereotypes so I could knock them back to where they belong!

  20. If but to add to the chorus, amen to this. I didn’t notice the OLN reading til after it was gone, and would also have liked to have heard you read this – the sonorous refrain made all the more powerful by the playful and yet dead serious inversion in the final couplet.

    I once had to practically beg a woman I loved to not get botox – not sure what she has decided, now that we no longer date, but I hope she doesn’t succumb to the pressure you so rightfully skewer here.

    As my mother once said, “I earned every one of these wrinkles.”

    Enjoy the break and looking forward to publication ~

  21. Thank you for addressing such an uncaring and hurtful expression with your wonderfully written poem, Ingrid. Enjoy your hiatus and best of luck on your publication.

  22. well said ingrid, seems we can’t take a single step in this world without being judged by it, whether its looks, money, job title, political position, gender, sexuality, etc. no wonder everybody is on edge and losing their grip

  23. The repetition is very effective, especially so as you were reading in the OpenLink chat. If there is any part of the female anatomy that should hold any relevance, it’s the eyes. “Window to the soul,” as they say.

  24. I do love this, hearing you read this was so great, and I agree that what you say that you turned that phrase to becoming a winner… sadly the only thing we have achieved with gender equality so far is that men have the same pressure as women to keep fit and great looking I think,

  25. Simply beautiful! I once wrote about “her roadmapped belly that tells the story of beautiful life created” but never had the courage to share it. I believe a woman whose body shows the truth of what it is to be a mother is one of the most beautiful things we can see. Bravo for sharing this!!!

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