I Know I Have Wrinkles. I Don’t Want to Remove Them.

by MomGrind

middle aged womanNot my words. This is from Virginia DeBolt, who recently said on her Facebook page:

Dear whoever places the ads on my Facebook page,

I know I have wrinkles. I don’t want to remove them. You can show me a different ad now – I’ve seen the wrinkle remover one 1000 times and haven’t been moved to click.

I am my wrinkles, my wrinkles are me.

Another woman I admire, The Israeli actress Orna Porat, was asked years ago, when she was still in her forties, why she does nothing to eliminate her wrinkles. Her response has been quoted countless times since: “Why should I? I worked hard for my wrinkles. I have earned them!”

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it.

A news anchor at the local TV station, a beautiful woman in her forties with a classic, timeless beauty, used to be my hero. I loved the way her forehead would wrinkle as she read the news. “See?” I told my husband. “Here’s a gorgeous woman who allows these signs of aging to show – on camera! And she’s still beautiful, and still employed!”

Not long after that, her forehead became frozen and smooth. She had lost her wrinkles, I lost a hero, and although I can’t possibly blame her for succumbing to the pressure to look younger and using Botox, her choice made me so very sad.

A real-life friend and a reader of this blog recently asked me, over dinner, how come I’m so “preoccupied” with my looks. I was a bit surprised by her question, because I don’t think I’m more preoccupied with my looks than I am with my kids, with my work, with the economy or with politics (although I choose not to discuss the latter on this blog).

So I simply said that for many women, looking good brings social acceptance, maybe even social power, and the process of losing that power is something you have to deal with. I don’t know that I’m necessarily “preoccupied” with this topic. But I’m certainly thinking about it and trying to find my way.

As far as I can tell, the main two ways for dealing with the physical signs of aging are:
(1) Fighting them.
(2) Accepting them.

Since I suspect option (1) creates a full time job that I don’t have the time nor the energy for, and the older you get the more demanding that “job” becomes, I hope to be one of the women who choose option (2).

As I said, I’m not there yet – still struggling – although allowing my hair to go gray is, for me, an important step in the right direction.

The beauty industry, the fashion industry, the weight loss industry, even the health care industry – those have no incentive whatsoever to tell us to focus on being healthy and fit, to love how we look and accept ourselves. On the contrary, many modern industries are built on people being unhappy with how they look and trying to “improve” themselves.

I remember reading the story of a middle aged woman who said she hates to smile, because smiling emphasizes her wrinkles. It made me so sad to read that, and determined to smile as much and as often as I can, even if it crinkles the skin around my eyes, even if it brings out those crow’s feet, etching them into my face.

It is up to us to decide – at any age – if we are to buy into impossible beauty standards, or if we are to eat well, exercise in moderation, love and laugh and grow old and refuse to waste time, energy and money on trying to become some fantasy version of who we really are.

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