Sunday, February 23, 2014

Growing Older

All my life I've lived under this idea that beauty fades with age. I'm 27 now, and I can faithfully say my body is not the same as it was when I was 17. Some things are better, but some things are worse.

I don't know exactly when I started believing this lie. I don't know when I let this lie take over my perception of reality, my perception of myself.

Was it when, as a teenager, many older women would look enviously at my body, making comments like "Oh, how I wish I was young again" and "Oh, to be beautiful and youthful!" And, in the next breath they would tell me these years were going to be the best of my life, the most memorable, the most lovely.

Or, was it when I started noticing how negatively older women viewed their bodies? After church, I would always overhear discussions about wrinkles, sagging arms, and weight gain. Or every so often, about husbands who left their wives for younger women. Prettier women. Women without crows feet or stretch marks.

Part of it, I think, is how many "anti-aging" products are offered to the older generation. Products to make older younger, to smooth out the wrinkles and turn back the clock. I always wondered why we women need such products. I mean, men get wrinkles. Yet, for women, somehow age--the number behind our many years--is a symbol of shame.

Hollywood ships this lie as well. From the magazines that shame the way a women looks, to the news sites that consistently criticize "weight gain" and cellulite, women are always under scrutiny. And young or old, we can never measure up to an overuse of Photoshop. And, if they were honest, I'm sure many celebrities would confess to undergoing plastic surgery in order to "keep up appearances," by way of a younger, tighter body.

In a world where women are mostly judged by their appearances, and appearances ranked by society--it's got to be stressful when society suddenly determines that said appearances are waning. 

For example, many of the older women in my life now protest shopping. Nothing fits me. They say, mumbling when I ask. I'm too old. Fashion is for the young. I could never wear anything like that, it wouldn't look good on me at all. I mean, just look at my hips.

I think to myself how sad it will be when one day I am suddenly too old for shopping.

I think it's all this and more that has taught me to fear growing old, because for many years I've lived in a quiet fear of just that. I've looked at every stretch mark as ugly, every emerging wrinkle as inevitable evidence of the decline of my beauty, and shuddered.

I no longer want to live this lie.

Because age does not an ugly women make. Age does not define my beauty nor should it define the way the world views me. And I'm not going to let it. I mean, I can't stop myself from getting older. And I'm actually quite excited about it now. I don't ever want to be ashamed of a wrinkle or two (or ten) and I am absolutely never going to quit experimenting with fashion just because I've gained a few pounds!

I hate the evil in our society that would tell a women this. A society that even tells men younger is hotter, that rewards men for landing a sexy, younger girlfriend. I mean, there is nothing wrong with being sexy, but that term is not age-restricted.

I hate it that most magazines always try and make older actors look younger. And younger actors look flawless. Whats wrong with the way they look now? Why can't they be loved and revered and beautiful just as they are?

I want to see this outlook change, but I'm not quite sure how to proceed.

What do you think?

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