Wednesday, March 14, 2007

from the tribe of Levi 501s

I love the Travel Channel. I love, was absolutely hooked on, "Living With The Kombai Tribe" and wish it would just go on, but it's over. A documentary type program of two journalists who join one of the last “prehistoric” societies on the planet for the span of three or four months, learning, eating and living as the tribe does and has for thousands of years. True “hunter and gatherers”: the men hunt, the women gather, everyone works from morning to night, and happily. If you get a chance, click on over there and check out the photos. I want you to see the women of the tribe, some beautiful women.

These women are very beautiful to me. They have dark chocolate skin, a tight knit scrub of short hair, wide noses and even wider charming smiles. Their eyes are friendly, deep, and jet-black, and they have wrinkles, sagging skin, and enormous feet for their height if compared to the rest of the women in the world their age. They wear skirts of large leaves, no shoes, no purses, and no make up. The only jewelry they possess is a necklace of dog’s teeth. Surprisingly pretty against their ebony necks, the white teeth adorn each bride and are added to as she goes through her life. These women, untouched by modern society, are natural and beautiful.

I also like those new "Dove" ads. Everything from shampoo to deodorant and lotion, one company saying it's o.k. for women to be real in an ad campaign. Real pretty, real thin, real plump, real old. Real wrinkly or full of real gray hair, or a woman who hasn't got any extra weight on her, but a real woman whose skin is a bit loose from years of wearing. Kind of like your favorite jeans: tight when you first put them on; and comfy and a bit saggy by the end of the day, your favorite pair of jeans; perhaps your favorite woman.

A little over a year ago I had the ol' girl parts yanked. It was a very good thing for me. I had been having some trouble with my body and when the only permanent solution was to have a hysterectomy I was on board. All in all it went as predicted. Some of my friends had been through this before and expressed that after two weeks I would feel better, after six months I would be a new woman...they were right on.

As in dominoes however, you topple one and others follow, it is the same with my "new" body. I have gained more weight than I expected in one year. I have drier skin than before, and then there are the wrinkles. I am 49. I have never felt a need to hide my age or worry about dying my gray hair. But I have to admit, before last February I had very few wrinkles to worry about, no "crows feet", not too many "laugh lines" and people complemented me on my 'flawless' skin. Not so much anymore. I have noticeable wrinkles and laugh lines and they are there even when my face is relaxed and expressionless. My eyes look as though they are made of damp sand and the crows have hopped all over and left their tiny little imprints before flying off to someone else. My face looks like I live with Robyn Williams.

I got very old in one year's time. That is the hard part for me. The gray hair came a strand at a time, the aches and pains also built slowly, but the wrinkles came all in a week I think! Even still they are my wrinkles and I am 49. I get that 50 ain't what it used to be -even as close as ten years ago, but let's get real...I am still hitting 50 next year and wrinkles and gray hair are a natural part of that. Throw in "spider" veins, Relief Society arms (under arm flab, bat wings, whatever you call them), falling arches, and sagging… well, everything, and you get the idea of what a natural woman looks like.

Every night I reach for my (as Chronicler labels) hope in a jar and slather myself like a tragic scene from those black and white movies in the 50’s. You know her, the house frau with the face full of night cream. At least I rub it in and go to bed without the white face. But slather and rub I do.

Each morning I wake up, get water as hot as I can stand and I lay a thick steamy washcloth across my face. I love the way it perks me up and refreshes my skin. I bend over the sink so that I can clearly see the reflection of "me" in the mirror. Usually I see my mother. It's o.k. My mother was very pretty in her day, and frankly, today she is pushing her mid 80's and she doesn't look over 60. She teeters and feigns a smile and nods when she can't hear a comment, she repeats her conversation sometimes, and doesn't do the things as accurately as she used to. You know what? It's o.k. She's 80 something years old and she’s supposed to do those things. So I look more and more like my mother each morning. Fine. She is where she needs to be, I am where I am supposed to be.

I have never worn make-up except on very special occasions. I know that I look tremendously better with make up, but I feel better without it. I can't work with my hair down so most days it's pulled uber tight into a ponytail rather than fluffed in a more flattering style down. My wardrobe is less than stellar. I am a sure candidate for "What Not To Wear" 99% of the time, but I clean up well and look presentable, again, when occasion merits the discomfort. I dress in suits for Sunday meetings and have dress slacks etc. for business. I actually have 10 or so evening gowns in rotation for Thor's business dinners and events- and I love to get all gussied up for those. I wear ugly shoes and my legs haven't seen the light of day for over 30 years. All but one piece of my jewelry is CZ or costume because I can't bear the thought of spending real money on something so trivial. I'm o.k. with me. I am o.k. with being 49. I’m o.k. with being “o.k.”

I don’t want to just "get old"; I want to fight it as much as the next gal. However, what I do not want –for me- is to go at it in a way that isn’t “me”. If I could, I would get lasik eye surgery, get rid of some fat, maybe a lid lift so that I fend off the blood-hound look that is rapidly hiding what little lashes I have. Chances of those options happening for me are nil. I never wore make up when I looked young and fresh, why start now? I don’t want to dye my hair, because frankly, I worry about that inch of root coming in when I don’t have the time or money to get a touch up. I am vain; I don’t want roots. I also don’t want to announce to the world that I am trying to regain some sex appeal by suddenly becoming a red head or a blonde or heaven forbid “high lights” –all of which scream “Mid Life Crisis!” to me. My cankles decided long ago that only sensible shoes are in the closet now. But I still have a weakness for a cute purse.

I guess what I am saying is that I am happy where I am at in life. And I am at 49. I have wrinkles, dry skin and gray hair. I have the experience that comes with 49 years. I have some wisdom. I am a wife. I am the mother of 5 adults. I am a gramma. I also have enough confidence to go out in public with out make up. I am a comfortable pair of jeans.

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

What a great tribute to womanhood and being yourself. I think the best loved of all the titles is gramma. You're a pretty good sis and friend too!

Ellen said...

Nice post. I am 45 and now accepting the aging process with dignity. I don't usually wear makeup except for special occasions. Why? If I am going to work out or garden or walk the dog. I am no longer trying to impress anyone. I exercise a lot and eat well for the good feelings it brings not to "keep me young".

Maren said...

This was a good post. I had an epiphany yesterday and that is that I really and truly need to accept where I am right now, today. I mean, I've known that, but somehow yesterday I *got* it. If my situation improves, as it might, that would be nice, but it's not something that I NEED. I've been struggling so hard to change things that I haven't given myself the OK to just be where I am.

On another note, I am with you on pulling my hair up in a pony tail. I wear it that way every day. It has grown quite long and I get too hot or uncomfortable if I have it down. I've gotten out of the habit of wearing makeup. Only, I feel much more put together when I do put it on. I'm trying to do that occassionally now.

kim said...

I love it--"I am a comfortable pair of jeans."

I hope that I will age with as much grace.

s'mee said...

Thanks everyone! I am not sure I am the poster girl for "aging with dignity", however I do subscribe to being ourselves rather than being influenced and pressured to being what a company or designer prefers us to be.

Anywho, stepping off soap box now.

Sarah said...

"A little over a year ago I had the ol' girl parts yanked"

Okay - this line just summed it all up for me. You're a gem!

s'mee said...

Sarah, it's like Thor says: "Any animal that can bleed for 7 days and still live should be feared and respected."

The man knows whereof he speaks.