Friday, March 14, 2008

Aging gracefully in this cosmetic culture?

When exactly did the term "age gracefully" become so twisted? When did it become fashionable to pull out every stop in the effort to make yourself as plastic and 'polyurethaned' as possible? Please tell me when did becoming wise and weathered turn into a 'bad' thing?

I watched a show on television the other night, which is rarely a good thing to begin with, called "Secret Lives of Women". It was like the proverbial train wreck. I simply could not turn away. I've heard of people becoming addicted to plastic surgery before, but this program really hit it home for me, and started me thinking, rather painfully, that too many people in society today have forgotten - or never got the memo in the first place - about real beauty, and what it means to "age gracefully".

I don't believe aging gracefully equates staying as "young looking" as possible for as long as you can, at any cost. It does not mean spending your entire nest egg on plastic surgery, and truly, many people end up bankrupt because of it. A naturally beautiful woman on the show I watched spent so much money on unnecessary plastic surgery that she ended up financially strapping her family and forcing them into selling their gorgeous home and relocating. It was almost like she just couldn't stop herself.

Don't get me wrong. My father had a near-fatal auto accident in 1981, and cosmetic surgeons had to replace his face, literally, from a photo. There is a time and place for this kind of surgery, and for my father, I am grateful for it.

But what has happened to natural beauty? Where is the joy in weathered skin and wise gray locks? I stopped coloring my hair three years ago. I'm 37 and maybe 30% gray. It is incredible to me how many people - men and women - have asked me why in the world don't I color my hair; it would make me look so much younger. The stares alone are startling. On the other hand, there are a blessed few who smile or even offer a compliment, but my point is, I am disturbed that it is even an issue. It shouldn't make me an oddball because I've stopped using chemicals on my hair.

I am certainly not criticizing those who choose to color their hair or anything else in the name of beauty. I started coloring my own hair when I was 17 years old. The articles I read on the dangers of chemical hair color (there *are* healthy alternatives, including henna!) and certain other beauty products over the years compelled me to change my ways. You make your own decisions. Make them with intelligence and confidence, believe in yourself, and regardless of your choices, stand your ground. Be true to You.

To me, aging gracefully is allowing Mother Nature to hold you, to turn you in her hands and leave the memories and mementos, the good and the bad of your life all over your body and soul. It's about leaving behind childish fears and facing the future with experience and wisdom. It's about the life in the lines of your hands and face, and the laughter and hardship there for all the world to see. It's about secret, knowing smiles and quiet reverence. Aging gracefully is taking pride in the lines you've earned, and not being ashamed of the gray which gently softens the light and hard edges around you. How much precious time do we waste in our relentless and useless attempts to backpedal into our youth? Allowing ourselves to age gracefully is not giving in or giving up. It does not mean you must become someone you don't like or want to be, nor must it mean an end to the fun and frivolity of life. It's accepting the life we've led with dignity and honor, embracing time, reveling in the moments of our lives, and hopefully, sharing with future generations the important things we learn along the way.

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Melissa said...

VERY well said. You should submit that to LadyPens!!!

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