Thursday, November 13, 2008
Beauty is skin deep?
As I stood in front of the mirror this morning, smearing on Nivea Anti-Wrinkle and Firming cream, I had a thought...am I being suckered?
Early in my youth, I like most people believe my beauty will last forever (ok, not forever, but pretty darn close.) Growing up in Hell should have required use of LOTS and LOTS of sunscreen, but instead we chose to slather on baby oil and Tropicana Tanning spray. We were always oiled down and positioning our lounge chairs to maximize sun exposure. The ever elusive brown skin we were after was just the other side of that little plastic bottle and I was sure that my naturally, pale white skin was really just some evil trick and that god had intended me to be much darker.
I don't have a history of skin cancer in my family so when the fear of 'sun exposure' made all the headlines, I didn't worry. Aging and wrinkles and leathery skin - were of no thought, because I had to be like, um... 60 to get that right? I was sure I would be old and on my death bed long before I saw the dreaded outcome of so much sun exposure. Youth - oh how I long for that complete naivety again. Somewhere around my 18th birthday, I met a woman who introduced me to facial products and a regime of skin care. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever met - only she was not your typical tall, slender, bronzed beauty. She was instead, a plus sized woman with porcelain white skin and jet black hair. She spent many years educating me to the wonders of skin care and what a value sunscreen really is. She convinced me that aging starts now and I will be much younger than 60, not likely on my deathbed and much too late to reverse the damage if I did not change my horrible ways.
I tried - I began using lotions, masks, facial peels, body scrubs, herbal makeup blah, blah blah - but for a girl in her young 20's it's really hard to believe I will ever grow old and not look like I did back then. Eventually it all stopped and I fell back into my old habits somewhere around the time I was criticized for having such pale skin. (Ok, I was called PASTY and who really wants to be referred to as 'the pasty girl?) Time went on and I had a child, work took precedence, life happened and a few years later I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize the face looking back at me.
Who was this woman with the dark circles under her eyes? The lines in her brow, the wrinkles, the bags...where had the youthful glow, I used to have, gone? I knew I had to change and so I dug in the recesses of my mind and found that beauty regimen I had forgotten about, headed to the nearest store and stocked up on products all claiming to "eliminate" this or "reduce" that. I was convinced I would find a much more 'youthful' me - the 'beautiful' me I had lost, just inside that container labeled $29.95.
I did not find the me I had lost, but what I found was much better.
No, I did not find a miracle cure in a bottle and I am not here to sell you on Nivea under eye anti-wrinkle cream or Oil of Olay vitamin C capsules or any other number of a host of products. Most of the products I tried did produce some type of result in the initial phase, but never completely 'removed' the aging I was trying to escape. What I learned in the process though, was that the laugh lines in my face show that my life is full of love and good memories, the wrinkles in my brow - are worry that only a mother can know as she watches her child become an independent little person. The lines and circles that appear under my eyes are from many sleepless nights when a child is sick or the love of my life is away or a dear friend is needing comfort from the loss of someone close.
The me, that I see each morning is not someone to be ashamed of but someone to appreciate because she is living life - the good, the bad and everything in between. This is not to say, I am going to throw in the towel just yet because I still want to look my best, but no longer am I so concerned with the routine of products I must apply each night before bed or each morning before work. Don't get me wrong, I still apply a little 'firming' cream here or there but I'm no longer trying to hide from the me I'm becoming, instead I try to cover up some of the more obvious "party like a rockstar" moments.
Do you believe in Aging gracefully?