Sunday, December 20, 2009

No, Thanks! 2

The beauty of a blog is that it can create dialogue on issues not normally discussed among people who don't usually connect.
A few days after my latest entry I attended an all-female luncheon and the topic of my blog came up. Aging gracefully is a subject women of a certain age grapple with every time they look in the mirror so I was not at all surprised that we landed with a thud on my last blog entry. I was, however, taken aback by the general reaction to it. Nobody commented on the story about the doctor peddling Botox but everyone present wanted a say on plastic surgery. One woman in our group took me to task (in a very nice way) mentioning that she had had to have plastic surgery a few years ago after having melanoma. Another confessed that she has had varicose veins surgically removed after seeing a photo of herself in a bathing suit. Blue had never been her best colour, she joked. One talked of having had all her teeth veneered, so natural looking, by the way, that nobody would ever had guessed had she not told us. Only one woman in that entire group stated flat-out that she would not alter any part of herself, including bleaching her teeth, partly on principle but aslo out of fear and cost concerns.
It fascinated and humbled me that I was completely outnumbered and that nobody was particularly outraged at the way the medical spa I had written about, operated.
A week later, at yet another all female pre-Christmas luncheon, one friend, making an entrance after arriving late and sporting a still slightly swollen face, announced without the slightest hesitation that she had just had her eyes and chin "done". Everyone was very impressed with the results and  I had to admit that, in spite of her swelling,  she looked fresher and more vibrant than when I had last seen her. More to the point, she felt mentally rejuvinated by looking younger and I cannot deny that this is a huge bonus in our exhausting, fast-paced world.
As I said in my previous entry, who among us doesn't want to look younger or stop time temporarily? And yes, I get that plastic surgery is a wonderful thing after an illness, burns or a disfiguring accident. In the case of the friend who was still recovering, it was clearly important for her mental well-being to look her very best.
I do realize that it is very difficult for some women in certain fields, especially if they work exclusively with younger people, to not feel excluded by their age. Whether we admit it or not, a bias against aging people is alive and well in our society.
But that is precisely my point. How do we rectify that? Is it by giving in or by standing tough? What message are we, the older generation, sending to our sons and daughters if we don't accept our limitations? That we are sorry to be aging? That it's not a big deal to alter the ravages of time artificially? That's it ok not to own who we are at any given time? That the history you have acquired on your face through the act of being alive....does not count when pitted against the norms dictated by the fashion and cosmetics industries?
Don't get me wrong. I am as vain as the next person and I grapple with these issues also. But my personal choice so far has been to compromise rather than give in because I believe that as a mother I must teach my children not to be afraid of aging. I believe it is my duty to set a good example so that they do not grow up to be afraid of what nature will ultimately do to all of us. It's a losing battle. With or without me, the comsmetics industry, which I support every time I buy a moisturizer, will win out. Perhaps by the time my daughter is my age, removing wrinkles with a laser will have become as routine and painless and cost effective as teeth bleaching is today. My future grandkids will look at old photos of me and say....grandma, why do you look so old?? If I'm still around, maybe I will have the courage to say...because I am!

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