The following is an excerpt from Untangled…
I was looking in my magnifying mirror, the one that uncovers every flaw, trying to pluck that pesky whisker from my chin. Oh, and it’s white. Awesome. What’s up with these rogue hairs anyway? I used to ask my husband to hunt it down, but I’ve learned to pluck on my own. I assumed that if I was grossed out by his ear hair, my chin whisker didn’t help my cause.
As I was trying to find the right angle, I noticed three Grand-Canyon-deep wrinkles above my top lip. I screamed in horror. Are you kidding me? How many people had noticed and kept their mouths shut? I was so self-conscious.
That same day, I called the spa for a facial. I meant business. I bought a package of services that promised to erase the signs of age, and went religiously each week.
After a few months, I asked my husband if he noticed anything different about my face and he froze in fear. Poor guy. Few things unravel a man more than having to answer a question like that. I could see panic in his eyes as he listed off a few go-to answers, none of which were right.
When I told him I was plagued with rogue hairs and facial crevasses, and shared the treatments I’d subjected myself to, he shook his head. “Carey, I never saw a problem to begin with. You look beautiful to me no matter what. I love growing old with you.”
In his mind, my wrinkled upper lip and annoying chin hair had nothing to do with my beauty. He saw my heart.
The reason I struggle with it all is because I often tie my worth to my youth.
As I look at my handsome, balding, wrinkled, gray-haired man, I wonder why I think it is acceptable for him to age, but not me. Why am I expected to look 10 years younger? Why are men considered distinguished while women are old biddies? Why should my skin be flawless, my figure flattering, and my hair full?
Why are we expected to stay forever young? This kind of mindset keeps us from loving our aging bodies.
As wives, we want to look good for our husbands. We attend Zumba classes to tighten our tushies, get our hair colored to hide the gray, and put together outfits to look cute. We invest in anti-aging skin products to turn back the clock, inject Botox in our faces to hide wrinkles, and go through medical procedures to restore this or reduce that. And when our husband tells us we’re beautiful no matter what, we don’t receive it.
This tangle is one we usually weave ourselves. In our insecurity, we don’t trust that our husband could actually find our aging bodies attractive. But there’s something sweet about growing old together. My husband tells me I’m more attractive now than when we first met, and I feel the same way about him. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve bought into the lie that getting older means we’re no longer attractive. It feeds our insecurities, and we go to extreme measures to look years younger than we are. It makes sense, though.
We see older men with younger women on their arm and panic it might happen in our own marriage. Our husbands probably work with women who are youthful and perky, and we can’t help but wonder if our men see us as a disappointment. Women in Hollywood look remarkable for their age. (I would too with a personal trainer, personal chef, personal surgeons, and a rich husband to pay for it all.)
But friends, if we decide our worth is dependent on defying the aging process, we will never feel good about ourselves – because it’s a battle we can never win.
Let’s embrace our bodies at any age… at any stage. And let’s remember that our worth as a woman has nothing to do with the very normal and natural process of aging.