Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ageing disgracefully

One of my favourite bloggers wrote today about an upsetting comment she received about her appearance. It got me thinking about how, despite the saying 'beauty comes from inside', we are still judged by others, and we still rate ourselves, on our exteriors. It shouldn't matter what we look like, but quite patently it does.

Even from childhood, we are praised for looking pretty or handsome. Then in our teens and early adult lives, we seek partners, and are often initially attracted by outward appearances (deciding to stick around if the person actually turns out to be nice as well as sexy!). And it's a powerful thing - this 'rating' of our own visual attractiveness. Maybe some of you can remember being taunted about some body part or another - I can recall unfavourable comments being made by parents' friends, schoolmates, fellow Uni students, my father, and my sister... remarks made about my nose, thighs, bottom and freckles and ears! (did they miss any body part there?!)

By the time I'd reached the age of 30, though, I was feeling quite comfortable in my own skin. I had accepted how I looked, and decided I was an attractive enough person as a whole. Fatty always treated me as if I was a beauty queen (believe me, when they say love is blind, they're not lying) - and he still does - so that helped.

But now... some years down the track... gravity and age are beginning to work on me. Dammit, I was just becoming content with this face and figure, and now they are both creasing and sagging and puckering before my very eyes! And I know that I am more than my external apperance, I know it is shallow and silly and vain to worry about such things when there are wars and famines and terrible things happening to innocent people worldwide, but does anyone know of a miracle anti-ageing pill? Because I want one.

Ahhh, I'm exaggerating a little. I know that there are many advantages to growing older. I also know that there will be a lot more wrinkles and other physical changes yet to come, and that this is just the beginning of watching my reflection age. I guess I'm just at that point where I realise that youth cannot go on forever, as you somehow believe it will when you are 20. And soon I suppose males will cease to 'check me out' in the street - not that this is an important part of my
life by anymeans! - but still I have noticed the decline. I have heard older women talking about becoming 'invisible' as they approached and progressed through menopause.... now I have begun to understand this concept.

So what's the solution to this unhealthy concern about aesthetics? I don't know (but I might try this one - mutter to self, 'at least you have 2 arms and 2 legs', and 'there are starving children in China' and 'beauty comes from within'). Any other suggestions?!


Heather said...

I have a cousin whose son has a terminal genetic disease. When I start feeling sorry for myself because of looks, weight, etc. I think about how much more real her sorrows are than mine.

Thanks for your comments on my post. My husband treats me like a beauty queen too and that is really nice.

And, by the way, you look beautiful! I can say that because I am certain it is true despite never having laid eyes on you!

shellyC said...

Great post Jelly Head!! Despite your wonderful comments on my blog recently....I too feel I am heading down the aging path. I have thought to myself "why didn't I walk around half naked when I would have looked good, like so many young girls now. Hell I would have a had a belly button ring too in my twenties....if they were in then!! it is a bit late to parade myself (3 kids later) around for all to see.

Alice said...

What you say is quite true - a few wrinkles, grey hair, extra pounds, etc. are very trivial concerns in the overall scheme of things like earthquakes, famine and major disasters. BUT it doesn't stop us having an occasional desire to look better than we do.

I've been overweight since I was 11 years old, and whilst I know that I'm not the largest person in the world, and there are cultures where it's considered beautiful to carry that extra weight, I will NEVER accept that this is how I'm meant to look. I don't want to be reed-thin, just thin enough to feel more comfortable, improve my health and mobility, and wear nicer clothes (see, vanity is still alive and well).

ShellyC - you will always look good to me.