I've taken to reading magazines especially geared to the over-40 set -- my age group. Many of the articles rave about the wonderful new discoveries we make in our forties, the amazing opportunities ahead in our fifties. The best is yet to come!
While I certainly hope (and pray) that more and unique good lies ahead, I don't want to diminish the accomplishments and pleasures of the other decades of my life. Each one offered particular lessons, particular joys, and yes, particular pains. And I wouldn't trade any of them away...
But more than I was struck by this thought, I was stunned by all the advertisements and actual feature pieces of beauty in these publications. It seems that in order to really enjoy these best years of our lives, we need a lot of outside help.
All that new free time seems to be absorbed in applying various creams to our faces and necks.
While one page extols the freedoms available to the over-50 woman, the other lists all the tried and true beauty products that are absolutely necessary for aging skin. All that new free time seems to be absorbed in applying various creams to our faces and necks.
Is the problem fine lines and wrinkles or is it puffiness? Do you need firming or lifting? Collagen or peptides? Anti-oxidants or retinol? Not to mention the magical new creams that can finally eliminate cellulite. Or frown lines (avoiding those time-consuming and expensive trips to the dermatologist for Botox!).
When I close the magazine, instead of feeling empowered, I feel diminished. I stare in the mirror (another meaningful use of my time) and count the flaws. Then I'm usually overwhelmed by an urge to go shopping. But I'm confused: which product do I use when? Can I use them all simultaneously? Should I stick with one brand or be a savvy shopper and buy only the recommended products from each company? What do I do next month when they come up with new suggestions? Which is more important: my face or food for my family? (The bills for these products adds up quickly!)
"STOP!" I scream to all those clamoring internal voices. Yes I want to look attractive (don't we all?) and yes, I need to take care of my skin, but do I really want my happiness to hinge on the success of the latest anti-wrinkle cream?
I'm disappointed in the magazine and disappointed in myself. Although I think we should always be striving and growing, I also think that aging should bring with it greater self-acceptance. Not only am I never going to look like I did at 16, but at 16 I didn't look like those magazine covers either. And isn't it time to say that this is the physical casing the Almighty wants me to have, and that suggesting there are imperfections casts aspersions on the Designer?
Isn't it time for us to say that wrinkles on our face are okay? Maybe more than okay. That our faces reflect who we are and what we've accomplished. They reflect our lives and I don't need to be ashamed or cover them up.
I can revel in the wisdom and experience of age and thank the Almighty for the tremendous opportunities He has given me. And if He thinks those opportunities should be illustrated in an equal amount of fine lines around the eyes and forehead, who am I to quibble?