Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Real Shocker


The banner headline posted on the cover of the latest "National Enquirer" at the supermarket check-stand today was framed by pictures of famous women -- those who had and had not had -- plastic surgery.

On the left side of the cover were photos of Katie Couric, Barbara Eden and Connie Francis without make-up, looking more or less their chronological ages, which ranged from 55 for Katie Couric to seventy-something for Barbara Eden and Connie Francis. I looked at their pictures and what I saw were normal, attractive women in various stages of (more or less) natural aging.

Why is that a shocker?

Why are women -- famous and otherwise -- criticized or, worse, penalized for looking their age?

When I see my friends -- long-time and new -- I see that they're not young. But I see the signs of lives well lived, of loving, of building character through the years. I see kindness and sadness and joy. I see a wealth of lifetime experiences in the faces of my friends.

I see that in my husband Bob, too. We met when I was 30 and he 31.  I see the young Bob as well as the older, wiser and more experienced Bob when I look in his face. I see the intelligence he has always had as well as the wisdom and compassion he has grown into through the years.

When I look in the mirror, I do see the extra weight, the wrinkles, the white hair.

I also see my mother's face. Who thought I would ever grow to resemble my mother? It's a surprise but I am at peace with that. I look at myself in the mirror and I see kindness -- both hers and mine -- and rejoice in the fact that I've been given the gift of years to grow and become a better person than I was when my figure was lithe, my hair dark and abundant, my spirit strong, but largely untested by time.

What a gift it is to have a chance to grow older. So many of my friends have not.

And yet, our youth-oriented society -- epitomized by the the age-porn of "The National Enquirer"  -- considers it a blunder, a shame, an indiscretion when a woman looks her age. (Older men look "distinguished" while older women just look old.)

The older I get, the less I care what others think. I'm at ease with my own face, my own body and my own thoughts.

I think that growing older is a gift -- and I'm grateful for every day, every wrinkle, every new experience and every wise and treasured friend.


  1. I'm grateful too. If I hope to live long and well, I need to honor my body. I'm not at a point where the extra weight is okay, though I've carried it for years.

    However, I am letting my hair go gray again. The color fades; the gray doesn't!

  2. You are so right. I also have aged to look like my mother. I do look every bit of my age. In retirement I have given up makeup and I dress for comfort, not success. Life is good in retirement.

  3. Great post - I agree with every word. (from a 52-year-old reader who is very comfortable with her face/body)

  4. Hear, hear, Kathy. I always feel a mixture of pity and revulsion when I see a face (and/or body) which, thanks to the surgeon's knife or the ravages of Botox, no longer shows anything of the experience which has moulded the character beneath. With all its saggy bits, greying hair and wrinkles, my body reflects the life I am happy and grateful to have led.

  5. Ever since I moved to Oregon, real faces and real people are all around me, with no make-up and no fussing done to maintain a certain image. I feel liberated too!
    A great post, Kathy!
    Now, how do we get this message to our younger generation of women who fret over every wrinkle, every gray hair.

  6. I for one think it's crazy when I see these celebs who get the face lifts and botox. You can always tell they did it. Most end up with what I call the "Joker Lips"! They look like the Joker in the old 80's Batman movie! So far I'm fine with what I look like aging. I even like the gray in my hair. It's what God gave me and if that is what he gave me then I'm happy with it!

  7. I passed the same checkout stand sensationals this week and am glad to see my own silent reaction so well-articulated. I am also happy to bring your "follower" list to a proper 100. My compliments.

  8. Well stated. There are times when I look at my chins and think I wouldn't mind having one less, but at what price? To not look like me? I so admire those who don't go under the knife and yet they still have amazing careers. Good for them.

  9. Hi dear friend this is really well written and I really enjoyed reading it.
    I agree with you totally! I too see my mother when I look in the mirror and I don't mind it at all.
    Been thinking of you a lot lately and hope all is well with you.

  10. I needed to read this. I don't care what others think, but I care about what I think, and suddenly in just the last month or so, I feel old. Worse than that, I look old. I told my husband I have aged more in the last six months that I have in five years. I think I look five years older than I did a year ago. It has been a tough six months.

    I recently was diagnosed with alopecia. I have not written about it yet. This hair loss is leveling me more than I ever dreamed it would. I have not yet gotten the biopsy to confirm this diagnosis, but I am quite sure it is true. I will accept this all I am sure, but for now I am struggling.

    1. Retired English Teacher, good luck with your struggle. Have you checked for online websites for information and support? One of the best things about the internet is that no matter what we are facing, we can find others who are dealing with it too. All the best to you.

  11. I didn't think I would mind growing older because I was "sure" I would take after my mother, who remained youthful looking into her late 70's ... little did I know that I inherited my father's aging genes! So I have been less than thrilled with my saggy face. However, I'm on the right side of the grass and I'm glad about that :)

  12. Dear Kathy, I so agree with you. We are blessed by being able to grow older. When I look in the mirror now--at 76--I can say, "You know, Dee, you're downright attractive!!!!" The reason that so pleases me is that until I was around 60, I thought I truly was ugly. Not just unattractive. But ugly. And so to be able to look with a clearer version and with the love I've found for myself is such a wonder to me. Peace.

  13. Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for another inspiring post. It can be very difficult to accept our physical imperfections, and the changes in appearance that aging brings. I'm another reader who assumed that I'd age "well"...I didn't, but aging well isn't as important to me now (I'm 57) as I thought it would be when I was younger, in my 20s and 30s.

    I don't think we should be too judgemental of other women (and men) who decide to have plastic surgery, given our society's focus on youth and beauty. It can be detrimental to the careers of women in the public eye if they don't have plastic surgery.

    I'd like to add, Kathy, that I've been reading your blog for over a year now, and think of you as a loving, supportive and trusted online friend. Thank you for using your psychological and spiritual expertise to "treat" us readers. I'd also like to thank the other readers who comment on your blog...the comments are always interesting and enlightening!


  14. Old Age is a privilege not afforded to many... I embrace it and am Thankful for it... I've earned every line and Silver hair... and better yet, I can be exactly as I wanna be since I'm not trying to impress or please anyone. I'm a Bohemian Spirit and Gypsy Gal that feels its better to be looked over than overlooked and I fully plan to grow old Disgracefully! It's such FUN! And the entire G-Kid Force Adore that I'm not your Garden Variety Gramma/Great-Gramma... they like that I'm not "Normal" *Winks their words* and they prefer that and not embarrassed by or ashamed that I'm 'different'. Only one time I tried to dress Traditional {or my version of it anyway} for a recent first Parent/Teacher Conference for the G-Kid Force we're raising, just in case they got teased by their Odd Gramma?!. I came out wearing Jean Capris and no Gypsy Attire or Bling-Bling... the 7 & 12 year old G-Kids looked aghast and asked me why I looked so "Normal?!?" and that they LIKED me different... because seeing me for the 1st time in Jeans & ordinary attire they said I looked like a "Farmer"!!! It was hilarious, I threw the clothes out and got back in Gypsy Mode... the Conference went just fine. *Winks*

    Dawn... The Bohemian