Just a few days ago I looked in the mirror and for the first time really examined my face.
I searched and searched for something wrong, and alas, I found something I had been dreading: signs of fine lines sketching their way under my eyes. I couldn’t stop staring. How could this happen? I am only 23-years-old, after all.
For a moment, I felt a little tinge of anguish. My youth felt like it was quickly evaporating and before I knew it I would be an old lady with a cane, reminiscing about the good ol’ days while trying to keep my dentures from falling out.
I stood there scrutinizing every tiny line as a mark of death to any beauty I may posses.
Up until now, I never really thought about how old I looked. People always told me that I looked younger than my age, so if I looked 18 at 22 then what should I worry about? However, those two minutes I took to examine my face changed my perspective on myself. If I have fine lines now, what will I look like when I hit 30? And my goodness, 40?
For many women, it’s hard to not see lines or wrinkles as a sign of fading beauty. Flip through any women’s magazine and all the ads for anti-aging creams have photos of models with absolutely zero lines on their face. Not only do they not have any lines, many of the models look like they could be in their late 20s or early 30s. Not the typical age I feel most women should even begin to worry about looking old.
It is no secret that women in today’s world are obsessed with looking younger. We have Botox, fillers, plastic surgery, lasers, creams and some women get face massages to help rejuvenate their skin. There is not much a lot of women won’t do to look young. Perhaps they dress like a teenager and make sure not a single grey hair has a place on their head.
Women have a fixation on looking young because we are in competition with each other. There is a generalized fear that men will only date hot twenty-somethings. Personally, I don’t truly believe most women try to fight the signs of aging because they want to make themselves feel better; they do it because they’re afraid of no longer attracting men and losing out to the next generation of younger women.
Perhaps some men do have a fixation on younger women; however, plenty of men find women close to their age or even older beautiful. My stepdad is younger than my mother. My sister married a younger man. My father remarried an older woman.
Can we blame women for feeling this way though? Look at the images bombarded in our face constantly. It’s difficult to not get a complex about the way we look. Every image we look at is enhanced and altered. And if your man watches porn? Perhaps we may think we need to run out and get basketballs glued to our chest.
What’s scary about the views women have of themselves is that younger and younger women are getting plastic surgery. In 2008, close to 20 percent of nonsurgical procedures such as Botox and chemical peels were performed on women around the ages of 19 to 34.
Some of these young women state that it is a way for them to prevent looking older. But, as one plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills put it, “You should wait until the lines are there -- until there are lines to fill. If you can't see them, why are you treating them?"
Mothers may not be helping with this phenomenon either. How often have we heard our mom’s criticize the lines on their face? How many of us have mothers whose bathroom cupboards are filled with creams upon creams that promise to help diminish lines or prevent them? How many of have mothers who have gotten a facelift or Botox?
Luckily for me, my mother never openly criticized herself in front of me. What she did do was encourage me to take care of my skin. She taught me to put sunscreen on my face every morning and to put moisturizer on every night. She taught me the importance of keeping my skin hydrated by drinking enough water. She followed her own rules and I can tell you that my mom looks awesome. Pushing 60, she looks like she is in her late 40s. And she looks like it without having a needle or knife touch her face.
More importantly with my mother, she is constantly smiling. Her smile makes her look radiant and younger. Sure she may have a few lines, but they make her look human and approachable. Call them character lines. Call them wrinkles, but when I look at my mother I see someone who has truly aged gracefully, never succumbing to societal pressures to look twenty years younger. I don’t say that because she’s my mother, I say that because it’s the truth.
After I thought about how often my mother smiles, I started thinking about myself. Every time I smile I create creases in my face. Little lines under my eyes and around my mouth take form. To me, it’s worth it though. I won’t stop enjoying my life for the sake of trying to hold on to my youth.
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