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?