A little bat’s blood or white lead anyone? All in the name of Beauty.

Here’s a real Youthful Beauty!

I flip through a magazine and realize it’s no longer strange to see clever ads for Botox and plastic surgery, the ones that make the decision seem a smart and savvy one for the up and coming woman of distinction. Why are we so hooked on “Beauty” and who started all this madness?

Well, let’s see. In ancient Babylon, not only the women but also the men wore eye shadow and eyeliner, darkened their lashes, curled their hair, and used henna for nail color. Ancient Grecian woman used crushed berries for blush on their cheeks, and wore fake eyebrows made of ox’s hair. The Egyptians slathered blue paint to show off their veins. Those girly Roman women made facial masks out of flowers, honey, wheat, and eggs; hey, that’s not so bad! But Medieval women applied bat’s blood to their faces (good god), while both men and women used pumice stones to rub their teeth (ouch). Beginning with the sixteenth century, women applied white lead to their faces so they could look “pale” (lord help them) and used lye to lighten their hair, which then fell out so that wigs had to be worn to cover the patchy hair/scalp results.

Huhn. Well. Lawd. Maybe a few lines and under-eye shadows aren’t so bad, considering what some will go through to look, um, good. We can laugh or say, “EEK!” or feel somehow “superior” to the ancient ways of beauty, but really, are we much better? The aforementioned Botox and plastic surgery, liposuction, hair plugs, weird crazy diets so one can become so thin that their head appears too big for their body, “full body” lifts, lip plumper-outers that look as if the woman was stung by fifty-two hornets, cosmetic foot surgery to reshape the feet (oh, so disturbing), and the uh, er, ahem, “female body parts” plastic surgery—just to name a few.

I study my image in the mirror and try not to be so demanding of my face and body—and yes, I’ll apply a little make-up, some moisturizers, zap a little razz-a-ma-taz to the face and hair, work out with weights and do yoga and aerobic activity, watch what I eat. But really, I’m not so bad, am I? A 54 year-old woman who takes care of herself and does not want scalpels or needles plunged into her skin in the name of what some may call Beauty and “Ever-lasting” Youth. I do see the wonders of medical/dermatological sciences so that we can feel better about ourselves, but where does it all end? How far are we willing to go to Deny what is inevitable? We are going to age. Things will happen. When we Over-Youth-a-fy, we lose something of Ourselves, don’t we? The character of ourselves? That which sets us apart and makes us uniquely us? That which makes us interesting. When I look at your faces, I am excited, for I respectfully and happily write about you, the parts of you that show me who you are and where you have been, and the life you have lived. I celebrate you and all your Self.

I’m grateful for the good genes my parents passed down to me, and should I not be? Should I read the ads, or watch women (and men) on television and the movies and consider myself somehow lacking? I’m not doing All I Can to reach my Beauty Potential? I see: not many grays, solid bone structure, healthy body. Yeah. Not so bad at all, considering the “cures” for what is the natural progression of our lives. I don’t want to be told I’m “less than” if I do not conform to some unrealistic definition of Beauty and Youth. I don’t want to look as if my face is frozen in some weird immovable mask, my lips swollen into an unnatural uber-super-duper-pout, my eyelashes like a dolls, or worse, as if I have a daddy long legs attached to my lashline. I want to celebrate who I am and where I’ve been and where I’m going. I want to look pretty, or at least as much as I can, but at the age where I am, not the-age-that-I-am-not-and-everyone-knows-it-but-I-think-I-am-fooling-everyone.

So when you see me, you’ll see a woman who is her age. Who takes care of herself, who will even apply moisturizers and a little make-up, and has her hair highlighted or styled or whatnoticles. Who works out and eats healthfully. But what you won’t see is a woman who is ashamed of who she is at the age she is, for I’m rather tired of being told I should be ashamed and to Do Something About It.

What about you? How do you celebrate who you are? Or perhaps you can make the case for botox and plastic surgery and body re-alignment, all in the name of Beauty?

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24 thoughts on “A little bat’s blood or white lead anyone? All in the name of Beauty.

  1. I’m with you!! I can honestly say that outside of hair color, I’ve had nothing done that nature hasn’t done to me. I’m 44, and do pretty well in the non-wrinkle department due to using Oil of Olay every day since I was 14! LOL! I do get highlights and lowlights, because my roots scare me, and I like that little kick of feel-goodness, and I desperately need to start my exercising and eating right thing again…as I’ve ballooned more than a bit. But I will age like God intended, with my eyebrows and cheeks where they are supposed to be, not in perpetual surprise. One day, Oil of Olay will give up its fight, and let my face sag…and that’s okay too. It’ll give my grandkids something to play with. :-)

    • I never highlighted my hair until last April when a friend did it and I thought, “hey, that looks pretty!” and so it began *laughing* But, yes, I agree those little things do uplift us and make us feel pretty or good about ourselves – and I suppose many can make the case that botox and surgery does this! And I can even see the point of some of it (though I don’t want it)!

      I love Olay products *smiling*

      • I used to colour my hair, but since the grey started coming in (which it didn’t do with any degree of seriousness until I hit sixty) I’ve stopped, because I like the grey much better than I did my Boring Brown. My hairdresser calls my new “highlights” Arctic Blonde.

        As for beauty by scalpel, no thank you.

        • Our good friend Angie Ledbetter went completely “gray” too -and it’s gorgeous – it’s a platinum silvery look – love it! Will I go completely gray? Eventually – for now, I don’t have much gray- my father and bio mom both grayed very late in life – 60s and 70s and my biograndmother still had a lot of dark hair in her late 60s.

          I will also add, that if you all like “products” that aren’t invasive “procedures” – – Boots No. 7 products are wonderful! http://www.shopbootsusa.com/product_list.do?q=no7&promoCode=BTSPAYPCWEBMACSS&kw=boots%20no.%207

          Target sells them, too. They aren’t expensive – less than or on line with Olay (which I do like as well) and they just feel really nice – esp the serum.

          I’m not advertising! I don’t do that – so they didn’t pay me to say this or give me free stuff – just personal experience!

  2. I love this post. :-) I quit coloring my hair several years ago. I called it embracing the crone.

    I’m curious about those Roman fake eyebrows, which I picture quite bushy and severe. Why did they need them? Maybe I just didn’t hear about the great plague that made all their natural brows fall off.

  3. Okay, you just made me love you even more. I’m in my 40s and all the wrinkles and lines have already started to form, but I feel healthy. I exercise and watch what I eat. I think that’s where the real youth lies, in how you feel. So, I guess I’m saying I’m not a botox girl. ;)

  4. I’m 54 and was slow to get gray hair. My hair is still mostly brown. I thought it was sort of odd because both my brothers started to go gray in college. I think I deserve some gray hair after what I’ve been through! Now that the grays have started to come in, they are REALLY coming in! I don’t plan to color, slice, augment, suck fat, or stick needles in any part of my body. I’m fine the way I am, every sagging, wrinkly inch of me.

    • I was rather surprised at how much I like growing out my hair a little and adding highlights – it’s like the one thing I do since I’m not a “girly girl” and have this awful potty mouth sometimes and can skin a catfish and gut and scale a fish (thought I don’t need to do that anymore *laugh*) and am kind of stompy-headed – but, here I am, after all these years, in my fifties, getting these highlights and swinging my “longer” *read: not boy short* hair around *haw!*

      But I also believe in good old work and discipline – and that goes for my body, too — although right now, I sure wish I had a piece, a honking-arse piece of cheesecake . . . dang.

  5. You cannot get any more beautiful than that little grandbaby of yours! I have my hair coloured as I followed mother’s pattern and went grey on the crown. I slap cream on my face and hope for the best. I am on a healthy eating plan now, and am losing weight. No plastic surgery for me, thanks.

    • I once ‘asked myself’ – if I had lots of money, would I still say I don’t want “procedures” and the answer is, after REALLY thinking about it – Nope. And not always for the “lofty” reasons above, but also because I’d be afraid: afraid it’d alter my appearance into someone I don’t recognize, afraid something would go wrong and I’d have some droopy eye or fallen mouth or some weirdness from the procedure, or infection, or that it’d keep wearing off and soon I’m in a cyle of trying to keep up with something that should is unattainable until death do I part! *laugh*

        • I only have to see previews to “reality tv ‘stars'” to be put off! Some of those faces are scary – they don’t look like they are real, but as if someone replace them with a strange futuristic robotic cyborg – though, cyborgs would probably look more human, I suppose :-D

  6. I realize it was a compliment, but my hair stylist loves my increasing gray and said I was “aging gracefully.” Who wants THAT? I am totally amazed at how much we trick ourselves. I look fine when I look in the mirror. But when I look at a photograph I wonder where that old version of me came from.

  7. I am who I am but I do help by slathering tons of the lotion stuff and goo and cover the gray but that is about it and my exercise and diet. All the things that are fairly simple and do NOT involve a needle or knife! EEK!

    • I see nothing wrong with trying/wanting to look our best and using product, or whatever, to help us to feel and look better – and especially to eat well and exercise to keep ourselves healthy and supple.

      It’s when we take it over the edge – when we become caricatures of ourselves that I go “lawd!” about :-D

  8. Kat, We’re two minds that think alike. How lucky we all are to be growing older! After Rose and Thorn’s next issue is out, come and be one of my beauties of the week. I would love to repost this as part of your feature or anything else you would like to share on the wisdom and beauty of aging.

    Nice to*meet you,

    Louise

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