Wellbeing / Wellness

Our year of rest and retaliation

year of rest

On the day of New Year’s Eve, I slept until 7pm. As the sun began setting, dragging myself and my duvet to the couch, I watched an episode of The Curse and ate a piece of toast. I brushed my teeth but didn't shower. Back in bed a few hours later, I heard the marking of the beginning of 2024 through interrupted feverish dreams and my puppy’s hesitant snarls at the unfamiliar sound of fireworks.

Historically, waking up sans hangover, without a dry throat and the smell of alcohol lingering, would be cause for celebration. An indication of the self-optimising to come. The best year yet. But instead of signifying a fresh start, a spontaneous Dry January dedication, or prompting a response to the persistent Equinox membership man who routinely texts asking if I’m ready to take control of my fitness, on January 1st I gorged on greasy takeout. I didn’t run, even though I often do. And no resolutions were made, bar scrolling through people’s In and Out lists, half to laugh at the premise itself and half to nod at points I liked. (Yes to capri pants, puzzles and stretching and no to compulsive shopping and WhatsApp groups and phones at the dinner table). 

Rather than simply giving my body time to recover from the illness it was struck down by over the holiday period, my dedication to doing nothing continued, bleeding into days, then weeks. I stopped showing up to pilates completely, began pulling my hair back instead of sticking to its usual routine washing schedule, and stopped adding concealer to blemishes. Upon reevaluation, the change in me has been a slow one over time, subconsciously heightened by the year ending and another beginning. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was rebelling from what it felt like I was supposed to do: wake up to write morning pages – which, a few New Year’s Days ago, after retiring to a friend’s spare bedroom at 5am, I walked downstairs to find her boyfriend feverishly writing at the breakfast table – and set the tone for the year through a wellness-adjacent day: expensive smoothies essentially made from strawberries and coconut cream and hikes, meditation and Goop kitchen. 

I thought I was the only one. Felt embarrassed by lack of motivation and of the regression back to the woman who, at her core, would love to survive purely on carbs, curry and chocolate chip cookies. But it appears this mentality has long been building: women who a year ago were wearing embellished acrylic nails coated with Big Apple Red have reverted back to short, bare, boyish fingers. Tiny Jacquemus bags have been replaced with oversized hobo totes. Lipstick is being applied, then rubbed off with a finger for a smudged, undone look. At a dinner I was at last week, most of the women at the table wore baggy T-shirts (and another told me, upon reflection, she wished she had).

In Los Feliz – a stylish suburb in East Los Angeles where Leonardo DiCaprio grew up, Angelina Jolie lives, and you’ll often see Caroline Polachek at AllTime – the best you can look is when you’re donning an oversized faded hoodie and baggy jeans, like you've just rolled out of bed. It’s as though the understated and effortless look of the French, with their uniforms of baggy shirts, jeans and ballet flats, has evolved to the point where if you're wearing as much, the shirt's sleeves best be left undone and its fabric wrinkled. This undone aesthetic has, of course, already been commodified. But when it’s Miuccia Prada doing so, sending models down the Miu Miu runway with bare faces, flyaways in their hair and mismatched plasters on their feet, it feels less of a money grab than it does a confirmation and approval that as women we need not brush our hair in the morning, nor apply mascara before leaving the house. 

The trend says as much about our capacity for capitalist consumerism and caring about keeping up appearances when the world is in constant turmoil as it does about the state of self-care. After years of being told the key to success is to be someone who exercises daily, meditates, journals and has a 7-step skincare routine, people are realising the stress that comes from having a Google calendar mapped out for every waking hour.

On TikTok, a similar mentality has been dubbed 'bed rotting', a gross-sounding name for an intentionally gross girl, one who chooses to spend much – or even all – of her day in bed by choice. Bed rotting can involve rewatching old shows or rereading books, scrolling on social media or simply rolling up like a burrito and switching off, not because you're depressed or avoidant, but because bed is a very nice place to be, especially in the middle of the day.

Simultaneously, it's a sign we're re-embracing simplicity: wearing the same easy outfits instead of packing huge suitcases full of clothes, visiting low-key local restaurants instead of the hot new establishment, and staying in instead of going out. Normalising the idea of not being productive, of living in the real world rather than an aesthetically pleasing online one (which only works if the real world – and those pictured in the documentation of it – are altered to look picturesque). Normalising the idea of staying home on New Year's Eve just because you want to, and of not optimising, or being overly ambitious, or worrying about the future. Doing things because you want to, not because you think you should. I will run again. I'll even do the half marathon that's long been on my list. But it'll be when my body and mind feel like it.


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Image: @paris2000s