Resisting the Lies

I saw this on Facebook today...

At first, I laughed.
Then I shared the cartoon on my own page.
Then I thought about different friends who I know have had "work" done.
And I felt the need to explain my deeper thoughts on the subject.
First of all, allow me to confess that I am just a tiny bit envious of your "good work." I want to look as great as you do. I'm not feeling morally superior to you when I make the comment, "She's had work" like the aging leaves in this cartoon. I'm actually saying it to myself (or to John or to a friend) because I'm not feeling good about the aging process happening in MY mirror, and a part of me wants to have "work" done, too. 
I do not think less of anyone who has cosmetic surgery. I'm not against any of us wanting to look our best, including me. Heck, I'm as vain as the next woman. I'm not exactly welcoming the changes in my face these days. But I'm also not chomping at the bit to undergo cosmetic procedures. I've never injected Botox or a filler, nor have I let a surgical instrument near my face. But I have used a plethora of creams, and I regularly push the skin on my lower face up with my fingers, fantasizing about the years of gravity I could get rid of with a Lifestyle Lift.

My husband thinks I look fine and doesn't want me to surgically alter my appearance. Aging doesn't bother him. He insists that as long as we're healthy, age is just a number. He doesn't love the idea of elective surgery for the simple reason that, although complications may be rare, there's always risk. He would rather not risk losing me just to get rid of the evidence that I am old enough to be a grandma.

I'll never forget the time I looked down into my magnifying makeup mirror and said agonizingly, "I have a grandma face."

And John said, "You ARE a grandma." In addition to assuring me I look great, he says things like: "Get over yourself. Everybody has to age. People who obsess over aging get weird." But I know that if I seriously wanted to have a procedure, he'd probably not try to stop me.

A less flattering "bathroom mirror" shot.

The main reason I'm trying to resist
making surgical improvements to my aging face is simply this:
Our culture is feeding us a lie.
And I want to rebel against it!

We're being bombarded with the message that looking our age as we grow older is something to be rejected; something unattractive or disease-like. Our culture values only youth and perfection. There's something so hideous about even the most beautiful of us (super models and other gorgeous celebrities) needing to be airbrushed or made even thinner and more chiseled for a magazine cover. It's artificial and perpetuates more lies. It makes our young girls feel inadequate even in their youthful prime.

I wish our culture valued inner beauty more than outer beauty. Sadly, it does not. But I have a choice in what I value. I'm going to be a role model and example to the young women in my life (my nieces, my granddaughter) either way. And what do I want for them? I want them to resist being objectified by the false messages coming at them constantly. I want them to know their value is in who they are and not what they look like.

When my nieces Karlie and Lexi were little, I told them so many times that it was more important to be pretty on the inside than pretty on the outside. And as I grow older, I have the opportunity to live out those words.

With Lexi and Karlie

I think about my role in their self-images almost every time I critique my own appearance in the mirror.
If I can't accept myself growing older, how can I have credibility when I urge them not to buy into the lies?

With Ashley
I greatly admire female celebrities who are embracing their aging faces rather than trying to create an illusion of youthfulness. I guess what it boils down to for me is that there is nothing I value more than someone being real. And trying to look ten or twenty years younger than we are is artificial. I also love that someone like Jamie Lee Curtis values being real above being admired for her "ageless" beauty. She doesn't want to perpetuate a false image that makes other women feel "less than." And I love that about her.

Integrity matters more to me than any other trait. But I recognize a struggle within myself for integrity when it comes to my vanity. I don't like the bags under my eyes or the puckers around my mouth. And I believe I'm going to continue battling the temptation to "fix" my aging problem. But I'm hoping that I will continue to rebel against the temptation to buy into the lie that I need to be fixed. And one day I hope to stop critiquing my face so harshly in the mirror.

It's a blessing and not a curse to grow old.

No matter how much surgery one has or how much money one spends, the reality is still this:
External beauty fades.


“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”
― Mandy Hale

Now, that's the kind of beauty I want to aspire to. And that's the kind of beauty we can all achieve.


Anonymous said…
1. You are a beautiful woman and will continue to remain one no matter your age.
2. Thank you for serving as a role model to the young women in your life. When I hear other attractive women constantly put themselves down in front of the young people who look up to them I inwardly cringe at the message they send.
3. I don't think I've commented since you changed the background on your blog and it is easier to read. Thanks!
Shari said…
Thanks, Denise! After I shared this post, I felt disingenuous for only sharing flattering photos. ("If you were really brave and honest, you'd share a less flattering photo," I told myself.) So I'm adding one taken in the bathroom mirror (with makeup on of course). But the added photo shows what I'm talking about when it comes to gravity! :)
I feel you; I've battled a long time with my face and my body. I've never felt beautiful enough. I feel divided into giving in to cosmetic surgery or not. And I'm only 25. I fear the feelings I'll have about myself when I'm 30, 40, 80. I hope to continue resisting and not be an hypocrite when I tell others "you're beautiful just like that". Thanks for the post!
Anonymous said…
Hi shari
Its steve
I see your blogging much more now , good reading
How is John and his mother are they still doing well
Winter slowly coming especially with the clocks going back in the uk
Best wishes
Shari said…
Hi Steve! Good to hear from you. Hope you're doing well. Yes, I have started blogging more lately as a direct result of joining a writer's challenge online. It motivated me to give my blog a little makeover, switch things up, and start writing again. I wrote every day for a week or so. But I can't keep that up. What I do need to write about soon is CLL. John and his mom are both doing great. We participated in a marketing video for Sarah Cannon recently and I'm waiting to receive a copy of the finished product so I can share it on my blog. They are also launching a new blog and I was asked a few questions about caregiving. I look forward to sharing the blog link too.

I'm not looking forward to turning the clock back here in a week! Thank you for staying in touch. Always good to hear from you.

Giana, thank you for leaving your comment and letting me know this post resonated with you. I wish you realized how incredibly young you are. I try to remind myself that I am the youngest I'm ever going to be TODAY and enjoy it!