I have never been comfortable in my own skin. As a child, I wanted to look like my mother. As I grew older, I wanted to look like whoever was the reigning beauty of the moment. I have never felt entirely O.K. looking like me or being like me (I should be ____ whatever the perceived lack is.). In the extreme that kind of discomfort is pathological. At the very least it is very sad. Our culture conditions us to feel inadequate, men as well as women. Only the criteria are different.
I thought that being older would bring comfort from a lifetime of discomfort. Age is a great leveling factor. But it seems that society keeps raising the bar. I received my AARP magazine yesterday and couldn’t believe what I read on the cover, “Look Younger, Erase 10 Years (or more).” The magazine published for the older population is now promoting looking younger! All of the models were women. When are we going to stop promoting Youth as our life goal? What is wrong with looking our age? Why would we want to erase 10 years? How is looking 62 instead of 72 going to improve my life?
We are still searching for Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. And it is a lucrative search for those who sell the products that promise us a youthful appearance.
As far as I’m concerned, it is very unattractive to see an older person trying to look and act as if they are still young. It simply accentuates the fact that they aren’t. While watching the Academy Awards on TV last week, I noticed an obviously older woman on the Red carpet wearing the de rigueur costume of the evening, a strapless evening gown. She was not fashionably thin and her upper arms were not her most attractive feature. Had her bright red dress been a little less revealing she might actually have looked younger than she did. I felt sad as I watched her.
Why do we accept that youth has a corner on the market of determining what is fun or desirable? Every age has a special beauty. And every age has its pleasures. I am tired of the tyranny of trying to defy the odds and look younger than I am. When do we get to retire from the unrealistic demands of our culture? When can I relax in comfort?
I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that. Lauren Bacall