Commentary

Aging Gracefully

Posted by tbaker |

“I noticed that the women on the cover had all been given digital face lifts so that they looked 30 years younger. I’m pretty sure even the creases on their fingers had been airbrushed out.”

By Rachel Birdsell

The other day when I pulled out my Calendar Girls DVD to watch it, I noticed that the women on the cover had all been given digital face lifts so that they looked 30 years younger. I’m pretty sure even the creases on their fingers had been airbrushed out. While it’s always ridiculous to de-age a woman in a photo, it’s even more ridiculous in the case of Calendar Girls considering that the premise of the movie is that women shouldn’t be ashamed of aging and should revel in the beauty that their wrinkles, sags and age spots give them. So why did some bozo have to airbrush out the entire meaning of the movie?

It’s not just DVD covers that are sending BS messages, either. Women on the covers of magazines are Photo-shopped to look years younger than they actually are, sometimes to the point of no longer looking even slightly human. We are barraged with advertisements about spot removers, hair dye, injections, creams, potions, lotions, tinctures and contraptions that promise to make us look younger. We are constantly being reminded by society that being older isn’t acceptable and that we should miraculously maintain the bodies we had when we were in our 20s. We’re supposed to have asses you can bounce a quarter off of and tits that point to our chins. Our faces should be free of any lines and if a gray hair shows up, we should immediately remove it by whatever means necessary. Guess what? That’s not how it works. Once a woman reaches a certain age, the girls drift a little farther south, some parts of our body jiggles more than they used to, other parts jiggle less. We get bat wings and crow’s feet and our hair doesn’t always stay the color it was when we were 23. These aren’t bad things, because they’re part of normal aging. What’s bad is when a woman refuses to age naturally and ends up getting so many face lifts she walks around looking like she’s in a perpetual state of wide-eyed horror. Wrinkles and gray hair don’t make a woman less beautiful, but rather as she ages, she mellows and ripens into an entirely different type of beauty than she had before.

The lines on a woman’s face are the accumulation of her life’s experiences. They were carved quietly onto her face by births, deaths, late nights, early mornings, happy marriages, bitter divorces, evil bosses, afternoons spent in the sunshine, emergency room trips, tears, laughter and friends lost and gained. Wrinkles and gray hair should be badges of honor instead of being defects that society tells us should be removed or covered. Instead of teaching our daughters to be fearful of aging, let’s teach them that age should be celebrated and embraced. Let’s show them that entering each stage of life gracefully and naturally is more beautiful than any treatment that comes from a jar, scalpel or needle. Being beautiful isn’t about being young and perfect, but rather it’s about being exactly who you are no matter what your age.

Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can reach her at rabirdsell@gmail.com

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