I look at this and i see my deep lines at the side of my nose- maybe from lots of smiling, the wrinkles around my eyes, from smiling, squinting into the harsh Northland sun.
I see the wrinkly forehead from my mobile eyebrows and frequent surprised expression in what i find in the world.
I see the mean looking wrinkles between my brows, where the smiling and the surprise and the worry meet.
I see grey hair. I saw my first one on my head when i was 16.
I see a long face with soft eyes.
I see someone who looks older than she feels. I don't feel like my spirit is any older than when i was 18. Hopefully a little wiser but still full of the same sense of wonder at the world. The same lust for silliness and kindness and love.
And yet what i am encouraged to do by the world around me is fight against all that marks me as older.
I should buy "anti-aging creme". I should dye my hair. Like i should be on the offensive against any signs of aging.
I am told by the media I should only consider myself beautiful if i look 10 years younger than my age. Or even better, 20 years. I should be ashamed of my grey hair and my wrinkles.
Like i am being conscripted into a war against age. Invading the territory of an over 40's woman under the flimsiest of pretenses - namely that i don't look like i did when i was 18.
I think this is a form of violence against women.
Older males don't have to bend to the non wrinkled non grey image they presented as young bucks. They age and become, like a good whiskey, more delicious.
But older women seem to feel immense pressure to conform to the "be seen to be young even if we all know you are not" mentality. Look at Courtney Cox. Look at Kim Novak.
I would like to claim my right to be my age. As that age looks on me. I grew up with an ozone layer hole centered over me... the sun here is measurably harsher. I have more sun damage than many women my age. But i wouldn't give that childhood up for anything.
I would like to claim the right for women to look their age. To wear what they want. To have who they are be seen - not because they look younger than they are but because they are worthy of being seen.
I claim my status as a conscientious objector in the war against aging women.
My friend on Praying True, Peggy Connolly posted these words.
"“Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent. Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.”
I think my tool of choice in the war against aging women is to truly embrace my own beauty in my wrinkled greying magnificence. I can feed this by not eating a diet of women's magazines. I can feed this by lovingly tending to my health and vitality. I can feed this by my very aliveness and connection to other things of beauty in nature and to see the transience there, in the cloud, in the tide, in the life death life cycle of plants as part of my map to the beautiful.
I am going to go all Wabi Sabi on the war against aging women. I will not hide this - I want my daughters to feel beautiful when they are my age. I want them to know beauty is more than porcelain skin and pert breasts. No platitudes about what shines from the inside will do in this surface loving world.
I begin my personal revolution by revolting against my learned response to aging, and teaching myself a new way..
Wanna join me?
What can you love about yourself that counters the war on aging women?