Friday, April 23, 2010

Acting My Age

Last week, I went to the dermatologist for a check up after having some pre-cancerous spots burned off my temples. I didn't see the doc who did the burning, but another, very nice doc.

When she came in, she asked if I was there to get Botox.

I must have look properly aghast when I said something along the lines of "Fuck, no." Okay, I didn't actually say the f-word out loud, but it was definitely floating around in my brain. I did manage to snap the jaw shut on the rest of the sentence which was along the lines of "do I look like I need botox????"

Because I probably do look like I need botox. I'm going to be fifty years old next month. My eyebrows are lower than they used to be. There are two vertical lines across my forehead that used to just show up when I frowned or squinted. The crease between my cheeks and nose is deeper. Sometimes when I glance quickly in the mirror, I see my mother's jawline. Things are heading south. There is a dry river bed look under my eyes.

I've been used to people assuming I am old due to my hair. It's been silver white for a long time. They look at the hair and not the face, I've told myself.

Perhaps they are looking at both now.

And I still can't bring myself to care too much. Oh, sure I'd love to have my lineless, non-saggy face back. I'd love to hear people gasp when they learn my age like they used to do. I'm human, it was a small vanity.

But I'm FIFTY years old. I can't look 30 forever. I can't stop the clock. I also don't want to spend my time chasing after a dream. Because that is what botox and face lifts mean to me, chasing after something long gone and not enjoying the now.

Sure, I've recently added having a facial every now and then to my haircut and eyebrow wax routine (Autumn at Stella Nova is AWESOME), but that is routine skin care, not trying to restore something that has been lost to time.

Three years ago (or four, I can't recall exactly now that I'm 50) I stopped dyeing my hair. I'd begun to go gray in my late 20's and had been putting chemicals on my scalp for over 20 years. When I made the decision, it was a personal thing, I was just tired of the mess and expense. I had no idea I had stepped into a political feminist tidal wave of women declaring they would no longer be judged on the color of their hair or the age it implied.

There are books that explain this better than I can, but essentially, there are three phases of female life across all cultures: the maiden, the mother, and the crone.

In our culture, we revere the maiden. We respect the mother. We give lip-service to the crone, but in reality, we despise her because she is not the maiden.

I am a crone. I accept it. I revel in it. I am finished with the emotional drama and uncertainty of the maiden. I have successfully completed my mother phase (although you never really finish that job), and now I am a crone.

My life is mine. I have confidence born of the wisdom I have accumulated over my life. I have the freedom that having sent my adult child into the world affords me. I have the means that a lifetime of work has rewarded me with.

If the price of all that I have gained in those years is a few wrinkles and some saggy face muscles, then it is worth it to me. I'm not going to cover it up with poison and scalpel work.


Joan Perry; Sidewalk Curator said...

I say I have a good story for every white hair.

Joan the Crone

Sharon said...