So, I'm reading this article advising women how to avoid wrinkles around their mouths. Said feature suggests that we avoid drinking from straws at all costs lest we increase the incidence of fine lines around the mouth.
When this morning's makeup session seemed unable to hide the first evidence of crow's feet and frown lines in the mirror, and my older female lunch date who suggested that I start Botox-ing immediately as a preventative measure to preclude the frown lines and crow's feet and laugh dents from setting in permanently, I got to thinking that this cultural malady had gone way too far.
Assuming it's beautiful to have a wrinkle free and expressionless face, and awful to give way to the process of age's evidence trampling our youthful appearance into an unrecognizable map of wrinkles and spots, indicative of a life well-lived without too much adieu about exterior merit, where do the vast majority of our population fit into this equation?
Banishing our past middle age and elderly compadres to outlying communities, and marveling at the few who actually take the time to go visit them ought to be evidence enough that something is afoul in this system of propaganda and quick beauty fixes costing us more than we make in hopes that we'll make more once we look the part.
My friend's nose, by the way, looks like it may fall off. So much cartilage has been done away to fashion that little Barbie nose that she's scarcely the skin to cover the bone! Every time I see her a few months out from her 'maintenance' sessions, her face actually gives off a warmth and communicative air unavailable to us when her facial nerves are numbed and her laugh lines filled. For me, I prefer her softer, older, more age-appropriate.
After all, I'm beginning to wrinkle, and the prospect of trying to keep up with not only the girls my age, but those 10 and 20 years older is daunting. Teasing. But, really -- let's just say that expression and intimacy are more easily facilitated with a face that works.
Vanity is a drive toward a goal one can only achieve temporarily at best. Better to embrace the qualities within -- those perennial and wonderful qualities upon which real intimacy and relationships are premised -- than to dump your money and time into a bottomless cesspool of superficiality.
How horrendously misguided to assume that movements avoided and emotions downplayed lend life any ante other than a heightened degree of denial. We are all born to die, as they say, a conversation I had with my 4 year old last week as we traipsed through a gigantic Anglican cemetery last week. He doesn't want to die! I don't either; but one of the biggest joys of living is to experience and witness life unfolding.
How many moments of truth, tenderness and poignant revelation are we deprived of by investing so much in something so shallow?
In any event, his freakish quest to live in freeze frame freaks me out. The dire consequences of exposing young people to this focus on skin-deep beauty and revering it to such a degree that we fear ourselves unlovable unless we take every precaution to postpone the inevitable; the way we disappear our elderly to communities on their own and visit only once in a great while; the way we stare into the mirror and panic at the appearance of grays and marks and wrinkles that ought to be like badges of courage for a life well lived - all of these things diminish our quality of life and depth of soul, causing us to lose sight of what is really important.
And what is important, you ask?
Well, your dentist will tell you a straw's a must to keep those pearly white pearly; and my grandma always said you only get one set of teeth. So, I'm gonna sip this $2 Starbuck's iced mocha through a straw and celebrate my wrinkles and the way they remind me of my grandmother's deeper ones when she smiles.
But, I will tell you that she, too, just this morning, bemoaned her wrinkled and wonderful face -- a vanity I've inherited and am trying hard not to replicate. She has done this aging thing graciously despite this preclusion. She is a beautiful woman. She has heart and soul and depth and so much love. Ultimately, I think that's all that matters.
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