I truly believe that appearance is largely irrelevant, but with a caveat: only when referring to everyone else. I can wax lyrical about inner beauty, but somehow I'm still watching the lines etch themselves on my face with growing alarm.
I told a couple of my closest friends of my silly dissatisfaction. I was aware of how stupid it sounded - to worry over wrinkles when people are starving, ill, at war. Yet, knowing how trivial my concerns were did not allay them. The knowledge of my own vanity simply made me guilty. And still horrified by the advancing signs of ageing.
I think part of the problem is - I have never been conventionally beautiful. As a girl I was awkward, freckled, angular. I grew into a more graceful, freckled, pretty-enough young woman. After realising that there certainly were some men who were drawn to pale, freckly and slightly pear-shaped women, I gained confidence in my appearance, and in myself. I knew I was no stunner, but what I lacked in classic good looks, I could make up for by being funny, or cheeky, or smart, or interesting. I made peace with my flaws, and decided I was satisfactory, just the way I was.
Then came gravity, holding hands with time, accompanied by child-bearing. Just when I was content with face and body, everything started to change. ('Wait! Come back, body! I was kinda getting used to you! Hey, face! Don't go changing like that. You were not so bad... I didn't mind you, just as you were.') So I realise now that I'll have to watch everything change, change and change some more (yes, strange that I didn't predict this, right? I must have had some delusion about never ageing!)- and still somehow retain confidence in my appearance. Or perhaps that is not the answer at all. Perhaps the answer lies in re-defining what makes me an attractive person. Perhaps I need to gaze again upon the pink-cheeked face of my grandmother, now 90 years of age, and one of the most beautiful women I know.
One friend told me that when she looked at me, she saw the face of someone who smiled often and frowned rarely. That pleased me. Because if you must have grooves, it's good to have happy grooves, right?!
Another friend simply sent me the card you can see above. I like the sentiment. I want to grow old with those I love. However, I may be compelled to ditch any friends who show signs of ageing too gracefully - too smooth-facedly, too pert breastedly, too taut-thighedly. That can not be tolerated.
When I say I want to grow old with my loved ones, I expect them to keep up.