Women are relinquishing beauty and style routines in quarantine, and finding it 'liberating'

Kerry Justich
·7 min read
Women are embracing natural beauty and comfy clothes during quarantine. (Photo: Getty Images)
Women are embracing natural beauty and comfy clothes during quarantine. (Photo: Getty Images)

We’ve heard it time and time again that these are uncertain months that we’re living through. And while people are grasping at opportunities to maintain normalcy in their lives and even some control through the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, many are realizing that it feels good to let go when it comes to certain routines, specifically those attached to our appearance.

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“FINALLY REVEALING MY NEW HAIR: and I’m TERRIFIED,” an Instagram caption by social media influencer Quigley Goode reads. “But ALSO beyond liberated!! I feel brave, light and full of love.”

The sentiment at first can seem superficial, as the content creator expresses fear in regard to revealing “new hair.” But Goode’s response to getting rid of hair extensions that she has maintained for 12 years because of lack of hair care resources and closed businesses during the coronavirus quarantine is a very real one. Especially following the encouragement from experts to maintain normal hair care practices, beauty regimens and style routines while inside our homes, for the sake of normalcy.

“A feeling of lack of control is one of life’s biggest stressors,” Carolyn Mair, chartered psychologist and author of The Psychology of Fashion tells Yahoo Life. “It helps to understand that not everything can be controlled, but we do have control over some things. Maintaining a routine is great way to do this. It gives us a sense of control and helps us establish some meaning in this psychologically difficult time.”

When those routines were founded on the nearly impossible beauty standards placed on women in particular — to have long hair, to not reveal gray roots, to cover imperfections with cosmetics, to wear high heels that seem to elongate legs and pants that reveal a flattering waistline — they seem to create more stress during an already difficult time, rather than a way to manage uncertainty. Especially when the businesses that provide these ritualistic services are temporarily unavailable.

“During quarantine, my hair extensions started to dread. You usually have to re-tighten them every six weeks and get a new set every 4-5 months but I had gone almost eight months! I was so afraid I would have to shave my head,” Goode tells Yahoo Life. “The thought of being bald kept me waiting even longer to take them out. I was so afraid that my hair defined me.”

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She even admitted that she was “scared to let go of the one thing that I thought made me beautiful” in a TikTok video documenting her decision to remove the extensions. Ultimately, she says, “it felt so good and liberating to finally take out my extensions and to prove to myself that I am not defined by my hair. My worth is not defined by my physical appearance.”

Behind closed doors, this is a feeling that many women are experiencing.

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Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and wellness expert, tells Yahoo Life that the “sense of freedom and ease” that women are discovering when it comes to their appearance is an unexpected benefit of quarantine as people experience less pressure to present themselves a certain way.

”Normally, high expectations are placed on women regarding their physical appearance. Whether going to work, a social event or shopping, women often spend excessive amounts of time preparing to face the world. This often involves investing a great deal of time, energy, and money in makeup, clothing, and hair products,” she explains. “As a result of being confined during the pandemic, many women are choosing to present themselves in a more natural, authentic way. Whether it’s going without makeup, allowing their hair to be au natural, or dressing in clothing that is truly comfortable rather than restrictive, women are making choices to embrace function and natural beauty over societal-imposed form.”

Manly clarifies that this pivot isn’t necessarily a willful choice by all people. “Some have chosen this route out of necessity and others out of sheer exhaustion or inertia,” she says.

Jessa Blades, clean beauty and wellness expert, adds that embracing natural beauty is a way to conserve energy. “These times consist of more stress, more grieving, and less control and they are exhausting,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Some folks are succumbing to the deep exhaustion that their lives have been causing or the deep grieving that the collective is going through. For the grieving and exhausted ones, this quarantine is giving them permission to stay in PJs all day, or not shower”

According to people on social media, putting on proper pants is many times out of the question.

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“Some people have decided to maintain their pre-pandemic routine by continuing to dress as if they were in the office. Others have decided to embrace the freedom and have given in to wearing comfortable clothing such as athleisure which has seen a huge increase in sales recently,” Mair says of the changing fashion landscape. “They may well find it liberating and wonder why they ever succumbed to norms and pressures to look and dress a particular way.”

Still, experts assure that there’s no right or wrong way to go about daily routines while in quarantine. “My advice is to do whatever feels good right now. Tap into that intuitive place inside and follow it,” Blades says. “It would serve our nervous systems well to try and not judge which of these routines are feeling good.”

And while nobody can be sure that this time will ultimately change the way that women present themselves in public, Manly believes that it will likely impact the way that women see themselves and care for themselves in the future.

“If women, as a collective, choose to embrace this ‘new’ standard of natural beauty and ease going into the future, we may find that the pandemic has left us with a meaningful, empowering outcome for women everywhere,” she says.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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