Monday, August 9, 2010

The Signs of an Age

I can't tell you how often I'm told I'm an old woman trapped in a young woman's body. I can tell you it happens more than once a week, usually not more than once a day. Someone will tell me I'm far too wise to be so young, that I'm like their grandmother or mother...a friend of mine always said when she looked at me out of the corner of her eye that she always saw an old lady's face. In short, it seems that no one thinks of me being 24, not even me, and despite the fact that I look like I might be 20 at the most. Apparently, I don't believe myself to be so young either. As I looked through an Avon catalog last night and came upon the "anti-aging" stuff, I announced out loud that I needed some of that stuff.
Now, you must know, I'm the anti-beauty campaign poster child. I have three, sometimes four habits that one could consider vain.
1. I, on a rare ocassion, will wear makeup.
2. I use olive oil to remove that makeup, but I also use it around my eyes to repair the skin.
3. I wax my eyebrows like some people go to church: fervently and on a regular basis.
4. I buff my nails every week, but it's mostly to keep them from constantly breaking. The sparkle is just an added bonus.
Otherwise, anything i do is basic hygiene, and there's nothing vain about that. In fact, I forget about beauty all together unless it smacks me in the face, like when I look at catalogs or magazines. It is only then that I am reminded that I am not a supermodel and that in fact, I fall way short of their glory (these thoughts happen enough though the saner side of me says "this isn't real anyway...they're all airbrushed). It is thus that I live the power of the almight advertisement empire.
I wonder sometimes how so many of us girls/women make it through life with any self-esteem left intact. I mean, I was a slave to it as a new teenager: I ended up with an eating disorder (mainly that I just didn't eat...ever), an endorphin/exercise addiction, a cigarette addiction, a love for diet pills, and a very unhealthy idea of how to live because of the image industry- all by the time I was 14. And even though I did all these things in an effort to be beautiful, it was so I could be "more beautiful" wasn't that I wasn't pretty to begin with, I just wanted to be prettier. I hated how much work it was, but I did it, because there was nothing my ego wanted more than to know every man was looking at me and wishing....And sadly, this is because I was overrun by hormones and misguided by pop culture. As a side note, I never dressed like I was a hooker...I did take my mother's sage advice that I should always leave things to the imagination, because a prize behind the door is much more exciting than the one in your lap already. By 15, I had snapped out of most of it. I quit exercising obsessively, I started eating again, I quit taking diet pills (except when I needed to stay up to study, and it wasn't a habit I dropped completely until I was 20), and I began a slow steady climb out of the abyss of mass media generated beauty hell.
I am glad that I have no children. If I had a daughter, I would worry about what the beauty industry would do to her, too. I would worry that she would feel like she needed that appreciation from men to have a boosted ego. I would worry that she would do terrible things trying to live up to a standard that is fake and furthermore perpetrated by men, who will never be enslaved to its many habits and rituals, but will further enslave their sons to believe that the pictures of women in magazines are the epitome of beauty.
Where does the cycle end? And will I ever be free? I, who at the ripe age of 24, decided I needed anti-aging products?
The rationalizing process was awesome. Here's how it went:
Significant Other: You really don't need any of that. I mean, when I met you, I figured you were probably 18, definitely no more than 20. I was shocked when you told me you were 23. "
Me: "Yes, so, if I use this stuff, I look like jailbait now, avoid some hassle, and when I'm 70, I'll look freaking awesome." Then it dawned on me: I wouldn't avoid hassle, I would just trade one set of problems for another. And, more importantly, 70 years old is 46 years away. I'm not ready for that kind of commitment. I can't commit to dinner at a certain time or even shaving my legs everyday. I won't commit to be with someone until I'm 70- why would I give such a commitment to a product? I won't. I'm too lazy for all that, and too free. Besides, I'm going to age. Might as well look awesome at 70 because I use olive oil to clean and repair my skin instead of 90 bajillion chemical products that could harm as much as help.
Eh, we'll all get old and ugly on the outside someday. May as well be beautiful on the lasts longer.

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