It’s tough being a woman; for one thing there’s thr chance that as the years pass you’ll start looking like a man – even like Richard Nixon in a wig. Yet I see all these age-defying products and I have to wonder what kind of fools their manufacturers take us for.
Just think of the skin creams that claim to be ‘age repairing’ and ‘youth restoring.’ I mean, come on: The human body isn’t some rickety old building whose floorboards you can pull up; whose walls you can tear down to let in more light.
I came upon a jar of face cream at the pharmacy the other day. From reading the labels on these moisturizers and creams all these years, I ‘get’ how alike they all are, but I bought the stuff anyway and told myself it was the high SPF factor that put it in my cart (yet if I’m honest I’ll admit I was mostly just mesmerized by the dark-crimson color of the jar, which reminded me so sharply of the votive candles of my convent-school youth.)
Generally, though, I’m a lot harder to mesmerize in the beauty products department. I know very well what’s happening in the regions north of my shoulders and I’m OK with it. I’m even OK with what’s happening to the south of my shoulders – although I do wonder why men get away with so much more than we women do.
Think about it: Men can have bellies the size of hot air balloons and still be cellulite-free, with thighs that look like marble columns on an ancient Greek temple. If their hair goes white, they just look more alpha male, more powerful. If it falls out, they just have to shave the whole dome, grow a beard, and they look like a dozen celebrities. (Think Bruce Willis. Brian Cranston. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.)
For us women, it’s a different thing. There’s a cultural expectation that we out do something about our cellulite. There’s an expectation that that we’ll be proactive about our hair, when it starts thinning or greying.
And so… we use products to thicken it. We color it.
And if we start losing the hair on our heads, we sure don’t turn to the male trick of growing it on our faces. Far from it. If we start to see the beginnings of facial hair, we pluck, baby. We pluck. Or we seek out the zap of electrolysis. Or we turn to hot wax as did my old pal from the ‘80s who would remark, in her Southern drawl, “Ah’ll be lookin’ like mah own Scotty dog soon if ah don’t go get mah whiskers snatched off.”
And that’s all aside from the many other signs of time’s passage – like what happens to the skin on the neck. Or the skin on the hands, which get all veiny.
Still, even while noting these things on my own skin, I have to stop and be amazed at everything skin does, from acting as a barrier to passing on sensation to regulating temperature. Skin is actually pretty great. In fact all the systems of the body are great, and their aging is just a sign of their faithful service to us.
So why treat our bodies like old fixer-uppers, knocking down walls to let in more light, when the whole time we all know that the best, ‘realest’ light is the light that comes from within.
OK now WHERE did I put those tweezers? 😉