Fading beauty? I think not!

Smiling always with a never fading serenity of countenance,
and flourishing in an immortal youth.

Isaac Barrow

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(decaying stump topped by shelf fungus / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2014)

I made mention the other day that I will soon be turning 55.
Whereas I don’t put a lot of stock in numbers but rather in just a good ol dose of “get up and go,” I suppose advancing age does give one pause for reflection.
However I promise not to heavily reflect today. . .not about myself anyway.

I have also made mention in previous posts, pontificating my aversion of our culture’s refusal in allowing any of us to age. I’ve also added my 2¢ in various posts concerning the millions of dollars needlessly spent on lotions, potions, chemical this and thats, surgical augmentations—all for the perpetual quest our society seems to have for the elusive fountain of youth.

It troubles me watching what people do, particularly woman, in the name of acquiring ageless beauty.
I suppose it doesn’t help when woman are inundated by advertising, television and Hollywood as to what is considered “good looking,” drop dead gorgeous and sheer beauty. You’re considered a washed up prune if you don’t color your hair, don’t botox your wrinkles, don’t lift your lids, your breasts or your butt and survive off of kale and green smoothies.

Let’s not talk about our culture’s current obsession with weight. I’m all for health—healthy eating habits, healthy exercise, healthy weight. I’m NOT all for the current chronic obsession for pencil thin, 0 fat BMIs, and what the Marketing world deems to be the “perfect” body.

Whatever happened with striking a balance? A happy medium?

And I best not get started on dress and appearance and the obsession grown, dare I say, older woman have with dressing more like their daughters or as woman in their early 20’s. Trying to put a 40, 50, 60, 70 year old body into something a 25 year old would be wearing is just not appealing, no matter what you may think. It’s great if you can still fit into and rock that look, but there comes a time when it’s really not “cool” doing so, as one comes off looking more silly, even, dare I say pathetic, verses classic, timeless, stylish and chic.

So what if one’s body is not meant to be a size 2?
So what if one’s hair turns gray?
So what if one has wrinkles?
So what if one doesn’t want to live at the gym?
So what if one enjoys something other than a constant combination of soy, tofu, qunioa, kale or spelt?

I’m not saying that I don’t “fix” myself up or care about my appearance. I do care. And I have to work at my weight and health. I fret over my hair as it’s thinning terribly due to a bum thyroid. I like to dress up wearing nice clothes—however, I don’t color my hair, my wrinkles are all present and accounted for, all sorts of things are giving way to gravity, and when I look in the mirror I wonder where my eyebrows have gone and if I ever had eyelids. But what I see is simply me, life and time and how those three things mix together making me, me.

I am however deeply troubled over the message all of this obsession over appearance, weight, youthfulness and anti-aging sends to our youth.

Boys are taught to build up and bulk up as we see countless young men and boys gobbling up protein powders, muscle milk, creatine powders and daring to gamble in the murky and dark world of performance enhancement drugs and steroids. For to be deemed the fastest and strongest, with a better “built” body, is the bottom line of athletic prowess and success, not to mention the envy of others.

Girls are taught at an early age that thin is in and that Victoria Secret’s models are the body’s to ascertain to, as they are “perfect”—-REALLY?
Woe to the young girl who is not slim, trim and svelte and does not possess the long legs of a gazelle.

The news is riddled daily with stories of some sort of cosmetic surgery gone awry, where clients / patients have actually died or been maimed by merely attempting to turn back the hands of time. Hollywood is full of aging actors and actresses who have had so much “work” done to their faces that they are no longer recognizable.

Oh it is all simply so sad.
So empty.
So shallow.
So fleeting.

I am not one to watch much television. I don’t keep up with the rag tag tabloids of who’s who. I don’t read People, I don’t watch talk shows, I don’t watch shows such as the Grammys or the Oscar award shows and I really don’t care about people walking up and down red carpets.
None of that is “real” to me.
It speaks of falsehoods.

I don’t hear or see much about the important matters of life—those things that God would wish for us to be in the business about—those things such as caring for the sick and the poor, ministering to shut-ins and the infirmed, feeding the hungry—none of that in the world of glitz and glamour. . Imagine if all that energy and money spent on fighting aging and chasing youthfulness was turned towards feeding the hungry, clothing the needy and housing the homeless. . .

So imagine my surprise when I caught a brief clip today of an interview which addressed this obsession of ours with ageless beauty by an actress who has refused to give in to the propaganda and hype. I was going in to check my email when the title of the interview caught my eye. Not one to watch folks like Oprah or Katie Couric as their idea of news is more or less gossip or trending fads, I actually stopped long enough to watch the clip and I admit, I was impressed.

Katie Couric was interviewing Frances McDormand concerning the actresses refusal to “augment” her aging process and what that means in the world of acting and Hollywood. She is certainly in the minority but is quite content with her looks, as is her husband of 33 years, as she notes the various lines and wrinkles on her face tell her life’s stories, she even laughed explaining how several “wrinkles” belong to her 20 something son–why would she want to do away with those story telling lines, as those are the lines from the life events which define who she is and what has made her life just that, her life.

The title of the interview is ‘I’m happy with the way I look and how I age’
and here is a link to the Yahoo news interview:

http://news.yahoo.com/katie-couric-interviews-frances-mcdormand-210921583.html

I applaud this woman, who at 57, is happy with her face, her body, her choice, her life—despite her profession’s culture of brainwashing everyone into thinking what should be the perfect body, face, life. . .

Here’s to aging and here’s to real beauty which is so much deeper than surface appearance!

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

The elusive quest for beauty and eyebrows

Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
Albert Camus

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Beauty.
Yes well, what is there to say? Our society is obsessed with it….or rather with the pursuit of such. So much so that we are vainly attempting our hand at brainwashing an impressionable young generation…the mantra that all should be of an everlasting plastic youth. I have written about this sort of thing before. The unhealthy addiction so many seem to have to the scalpel or the needle of the plastic surgeon—augmentation, botox, lipo, all in the name of youth and beauty. Have you seen those faces and bodies of the oh so stretched too tight or blown up like an over inflated balloon—so unnatural.

And then there is the Cosmetic industry with their potions and lotions promised to diminish or eliminate wrinkles. The “magic” formulas peddled to eradicate age spots, skin irregularities, uneven skin tones. The amazing liquids, that once smeared on, transform winter white to summer bronze. That can’t be good.

All of this however is not exactly my focus today.

Whereas I do think this world of ours, or at least the marketing world, has gone over board, nuts and mad quite frankly with this whole quest for eternal youth and beauty….I simply wish we’d all just take a healthy look in the mirror of reality and be happy with what looks back.

I taught teenagers for over 30 years—the teen years are some tough years if you may recall. Self esteem and self image being everything. And may we remember that I was also an art teacher….where much conversation centered on what is art, what is beauty—or rather what is aesthetically pleasing.

And who has been the subject for much of what man, and to a lesser degree woman, has always deemed as the benchmark for the idea of beauty in the female form?—None other than Miss Venus herself as per the Romans and Aphrodite for the Greeks. Not to worry ladies, we have always had Adonis to look to as our “perfect” male….digress, digress

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For years artists looked to this idealized concept of Venus as a measuring stick for feminine beauty. Why would we think that Roman and Greek society created and cultivated a blonde haired blue eyed image as the set standard for beauty when most likely the original concept of our miss Venus was more likely to have had olive toned skin with raven colored wavy hair?

I think the blonde hair blue eyed business being the poster child for beauty has out played itself—not that blonde hair with blue eyes is not a striking match—but let us be mindful that other combinations are equalling as striking and beautiful—be it brown eyes with curly black hair, green eyes with red wavy hair, hazel eyes with short silver hair… ivory skin, ebony skin, fair or dark, the list goes on.

Beauty is truly so much more than skin deep and shallow surface image. I know that, you know that, but try telling the younger generations anything differently. They might as well be wearing blinders as they are forced to focus constantly and confront a mind altering bombardment from the Fashion Industry, the Healthcare / Cosmetic industry and let’s not forget Tinsel Town–of which none will ever let up hammering home the need for the relentless quest to be beautiful at all costs.

So here I was on a short out of town trip with a life long friend who, after a long travel day looked at me, as I had showered and was getting ready to go to bed, and flatly stated “you don’t need to pluck you eyebrows anymore.” Oh dear Lord, if she’s noticed, then countless others have noticed! My eyebrows…or rather my lack of eyebrows—is a true concern. “I don’t pluck them, they’ve simply disappeared.” I reply dejectedly.

Now you must know that women of a certain age tend to lose things….hair being one them–hair, as well as its once luscious rich color. Also, anyone who lives with a bum thyroid can understand my plight as a bum thyroid is most certainly the culprit to the lack of eyebrows—as it is in my case. I have Hashimoto’s disease—best put it is the plight of a thyroid that can’t make up its mind…life on a roller coaster of thyroid hormone production—too much / too little. It sends ones’ weight on a wild ride, ones energy on a manic track of excess and lack and it sends ones hair literally down the drain.

I do take a prescription to help regulate my levels but I don’t think that does anything for my hair. My hair is now rather thin and my poor eyebrows are almost non existent.

There are eyebrow pencils—but my grandmother used those things and looked like a living cartoon. There are tattooed eyebrows but those are a little too permanent for the control freak druthers of mine. My hair usually is long enough to cover at least one eyebrow and I usually hope my glasses hide the other one.

“Ohhhh” my friend responds with almost giddy glee. “Get your computer, we’ve got some ordering to do”….. It seems she found a company that has a line of natural looking pigment powders used to “fill in the gaps” as it were for woman who are in need of such.

My friend recently lived through a battle with breast cancer, of which she has emerged on the other side victorious. She suffered through rounds of chemotherapy that robbed her of precious hair. In order to manage appearing as “normal as possible” while she fought and battled, she found this eyebrow powder. I tried a little…hummmm…”See,” as she hands me a mirror, “you look 10 years younger…” “maybe so” I begrudgingly admit.

My powder arrived yesterday. It has a set of little stencil templates of various sizes with mine obviously being on the fine end of the bushy brow spectrum. Three powders to match my existing hair color tone and the cutest little brush applicator.

If you happen to see me out and about in the near future and find yourself wondering what it is that is now “different” about my appearance….just know that it may be the fact that I now have two wooly bear caterpillars living above my eyes….

There is beauty and then there is necessity…..