Sunday, May 12, 2013
Aging With Face
A month or two ago, a friend from home visited and we met up with a friend from college for a night of nostalgia, sushi, and beer. As when I get together with any other girlfriend, beauty under the guise of age always becomes a topic, but never in a celebratory manner, more in a self-deprecating manner. Who can top the group with the most outlandish metaphor for the tiny lines forming above their lip? Somewhere in between her showing me her loose belly skin left over from pregnancy and me pointing at what I consider to be my "advanced" crow's feet, I realized that we were doing it again. But unlike when we were 26 and complaining about gaining weight or 16 and folding our arms across our boobs, now we also joke about what procedures we are headed for as a way to test the waters among friends: is plastic surgery okay? What about botox? Do we look as awful as we think we do? Holy fuck, when did we start to care about aging?
We flipped through funny wedding pictures from her wedding six years ago and we oohed and ahhed over how young we all looked. We noticed if we were skinnier or heavier, our cheeks more plump, our faces more smoothed. I noticed my smooth forehead just as she mentioned, I think you are one of the few that still looks the same--- A compliment which I quickly deflect, because obviously, everyone can see these crevices stretching across the vast expanse of my forehead, right?
When I was 22, I worked with a woman who was 32 and for a another who was in her early 30s. I remember noticing the texture of their skin. They were youthful women, doing just what I was. But the texture of their skin looked different. They weren't old, and they weren't young. But they had experiences etched into tiny lines around the corners of their faces, lines like verses. They smiled a lot and laughed even more. They wore tennis shoes on set because it made sense and it didn't bother them when the director chose the young PA in cowboy boots as a sexy extra for the music video we were shooting because they knew better. Her day was going to suck more than theirs.
A friend recently sent me a birthday invitation for her 32nd birthday along with a link to an article about how women feel most attractive at 32. I only read the first couple stories, but it seemed that most women decidedly did NOT feel their most attractive at 32, they just felt themselves for the first time, and that made all the difference.
As we looked through those pictures, I couldn't help but think how good looking we all are. So many beautiful faces and yet on that day I remember being self conscious of my belly. Just like I am self conscious of it today and so is she. And yet, for 32, we look pretty damn good. When is the age when we greet each other with:
You look great!
Thanks! I know!
You look great!
(Simulate eye roll) Trying.
In the third grade, I remember the worst thing to be called was "conceited." A couple grades later it was a "nerd." And a couple grades later it was a "prude." What I would give to be conceited these days. How I wish I capitalized on my nerdiness! And oh, the shame I wish I could erase, in proving I wasn't a prude.
Botox makes it look so easy.
I have a friend of the distant kind, one I have known my whole life. She is a little older than me and has been a family friend I always looked up to because she was beautiful inside and out and unapologetic about it. Not only did she wear her beauty with confidence, she has made a business on that confidence and style and gives inspiration to women all over the world just for being her fabulous self. A friend once asked me, is there someone who inspires you to be in your beautiful self? I thought of her. Recently she wrote an honest post about aging and how she was possibly considering Botox. If she was considering Botox, there was no hope for me. But when she decided ultimately it was not for her and she would instead try to embrace her age and do so with grace, I saw clear as day the missing piece for me and my age-old self-esteem vanities. Nothing is as horrible and scary as it seems when you have acceptance. Rather than continually chasing after this body, this face, this image of me that will forever remain just that, I could spend more energy in acceptance. Rather than getting together with my girlfriends and complaining about how not eating bread for a week doesn't drop the weight like it used to, maybe I can focus on how I can finally wear sexy adult clothes and feel like I've earned the cut. Maybe I can focus on all the delicious food I have been so fortunate to have experienced here in New York City and actually be grateful for that well earned tummy. Or see my freckles and sun spots and crow's feet as markers of that tough soccer tournament played in Phoenix, that time I tried surfing in Mexico, or one of the many San Fernando Valley summers I spent trying to work up the nerve to do a front flip into my Aunt Gail's pool. Maybe one day, when my girlfriends and I get together, we will talk about how aging with face has made us more beautiful and graceful than we ever could have imagined.