Thursday, July 10, 2008
I met my best girl friend years ago. She is tiny in height in shape, but never in hair, nails, or ideas. She is huge with ideas. And generosity, but that's another post. My best girlfriend has always tried to "girlify" me, you know, help me dress better, wear make up, do something -anything- with my hair and generally fem up a bit. o.k. It's not like I'm a lumberjack, but that I am more the hippy chick wanna be. If I had my way I'd look similar to Dharma's mom, Abby Fincklestein, but I'm no where near that cute.
I gave up make up in the 70's because it was just to suffocating on my skin and after a couple of hours I looked like a raccoon anyway. Back then I was 105lbs. with stick straight hair. In the 80's I wanted big hair (read BIG HAIR) like everyone else. So I fried the juju out of it. I also gained a lot of weight so I ended up looking much like a before photo of Richard Simmons...no one wants that, so I eased up on the perms.
Most of the 90's and, up until recent dates, I lived in the perma-pony tail, still sans make up, and let my casual dress lead the way. I wear a suit to church on Sundays because grown up ladies are supposed to do that, but frankly, I'm not a fan. I would love to wear my peasant blouses, broomstick skirt and berks, but I do know that I don't look like Abby enough to get away with that. I don't dye my hair. I have really nice colour anyway, who cares if it is going gray now. I'm 50, deal. I both fell into the "beauty" trap and avoided it, I'm an enigma, go figure. But I am aging and with age comes wisdom, or at least one can hope.
There are wrinkles now. There is the funky stretchy skin all over and the bread dough tummy... probably from eating too much bread. I lose more hair on the pillow than Thor ever will. I shed. Holy cow, do I shed!
But then I think about the women on my favourite t.v. show, the women of the Kombai and Mek tribes. Beautiful black women who have lived their lives in the wilderness of their countries, no make up, no lotions, no Victoria Secret, no Spanks, no toothbrush or nightly showers, no clothes or shoes. No models to speak of, no bill boards or infomercials, no make up counter at the center of the village, nothing. What would Carrie Bradshaw do? Probably throw her Prada pursed, Manolo Blahnik shod and Victor and Rolf draped self off the nearest cliff.
I look at my face in the mirror and see the crow's feet beginning to hop around, I see the laugh lines and my still crooked 'period' teeth. I see the "highlights" of gray in my charcoal hair. I feel the aches and pains from standing on a ladder one too many times. But I also see the wisdom that is coming with each year, the not worrying about the little things anymore, the ability to let things go that are no longer important.
I look to the women who see me as the young kid, and who laugh out loud at all the fuss about carbs, low-fat yogurt and the number of inches on your heels. One of my dear friends, in her 80's, just last week shared with our lunch group how she just looked straight at her doctor and told him he could jump in a lake, she was fine with her weight and at her age she wasn't about to go on a diet. Don't get me wrong, she does water aerobics three times a week, and takes full care of her ailing hubby all the while pulling off a pretty stressful and time consuming church job. She takes care of herself, but she doesn't worry about the outside too much any more. "It's great to go to the pool now. No one cares if you're too fat if you're in your 80s!" She says with a laugh. "You should see those tiny little 25 yr olds! They worry about every little jiggle. They don't realize men LOVE jiggles!" With age came confidence in her true self; added pounds and all.
We live in the U.S. The birthplace of feminism, which was supposed to give us all the "go ahead" to be what we wanted to be rather than having to be what someone else decided for us. And yet, for all those grandiose ideas we all still look to Carry as the role model, as the "it" girl. (a women, I might add, who has wrinkles, smokes like a freaking chimney, colours her hair, and -for all her liberated lifestyle- only wanted what most of us already have, a husband.) What happened to being o.k. and good enough in our own skin? What happened to being revered for who we are and not for what we own, wear, or how large or small certain parts of our anatomy are?
Look at the women in the photo above. Confident, learned, knowing, even sassy. These women grew into themselves not a size 0 designer label. They grew into what they were divinely designed to do. As young women they had full round hips and breasts. As their children grew away from a mother's need, these women's bodies changed and adapted to their new age. Are these women wistful that their bodies have changed, drastically? Maybe. But they go with it anyway. They add to their dog teeth necklace, honours and trophies for their abilities and skills, not for their collection of Jimmy Choos, snow white teeth, or size two body after fourty.
They sag. Their legs are scarred and pocked. The skin drapes over their ligaments and tell the struggle of their existence and experience. Their hair is a ball of woolen snarls, but their eyes... look at their eyes.
I'll give you a minute, go on, click on the photo and check it out as large as it comes. Look at the women.
I'll tell you right now the two on the outside, well, I would love to talk with them. Don't they look fabulous? They look like they have something to say! All three of them look smart, confident, strong in opinion and ethics, interesting and humourous. Wouldn't it be grand if someone saw a photo of us, no clothes, no make up, looking straight into the lens and could say that about each of us?
Now that gal in the middle, don't mess with her, she knows what she wants and I bet she gets it...every time. She doesn't look angry or overbearing, but defined, focused, purposed, and even humble. I bet she is a good friend. Dependable. Sure. The gal on the left, seems like the gal in high school who had it all together, a bit of attitude - the good kind- and always on the edge of laughter, the gal who went to work and got it done. The cutie on the right, I want to know her the most. She just looks like she is ready to share a good story, such smiling eyes.
In their tribe these women will be worked literally to death. Yet in that work will come their honour also. They will be praised for the children they bring into the world, rear and train. As they become older their knowledge will be sought after, and as elders they will be regarded as wise and powerful. Even in their death they will watch over their children and grandchildren and the tribe as a whole. They are revered because they are women. That's enough.
My point is this: Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, keep moving, stay involved, but for heaven's sake, take a look in the mirror and give yourself a break. You were designed to wrinkle, gray, and shift your body weight. It happens, it's o.k. Embrace the fact you are aging, it's certainly better than the alternative! Dye your hair if it makes you feel better, but don't feel bad if you don't. Diet if you like doing that, but it's o.k. to buy a size larger (or even more!) than you did when you were young and single. Relax, you're going to be fine the way you are.
Being you is enough.
Posted by S'mee at 1:51 AM