Monday, April 05, 2010

Bonfire of My Middle Aged Vanity

"Middle age is where if you bother to wear makeup it congeals in the crevices in your face. And it's just not damn fair."- Quilting in My Pyjamas -2010

I took a picture of my toes a couple of days ago  for vawriter's, Hot Pink Toes Month.

The "photo shoot" had all the hallmarks of a multi-million dollar super model photo shoot. I took about 40 pictures of my feet  hoping for the perfect shot. I agonised over which shot to send. I played with a photo editing program trying to make my feet look "beautiful".

When I was younger, a lot younger, I experienced all the typical teen angst about my looks.  I thought I was "ugly" and nobody would ever want to marry me. Freckles were the bane of my existence. I experienced dermatitis and wept buckets  because I didn't think anyone would ever  love someone who had skin like a crocodile. 

At some point in life most of us  think we're all wrong. Too fat , too thin, big butt,  too tall, too short, small boobs, big boobs, fat thighs, pale skin....whatever .   At some point most of us  get over it. We learn to live with the cards we're dealt or we  have plastic surgery.  Plastic surgery is bad. Just look at Jocelyn Wildenstein.

I kinda took my looks for granted between  1991 and 2006. I'm not saying I walked around in a  potato sack , and didn't take care of myself. I just didn't agonise over how I looked. For one thing, I just didn't have time.  I've never spent hours daily making myself gorgeous. I'm not one of those "I cant leave the house unless every hair is in it's place" kind of women. Shower, teeth, moisturiser, deoderant , hair in a ponytail-I'm ready to face the world. That's me. A "grab and go" girl. If I turfed on a little makeup , I looked pretty good.

By 2006, which incidentally was not the best year of my life,  I realised I was no longer a  spring chicken, and could see a few crows feet happening and I'd had to start getting my moustache and mono brow waxed. Regularly.  I wasn't too worried. No biggie.  Looking old was something that happened around the age of vaguely 70. In the far off distant future. No point in hitting the panic button yet. Plenty of years left to enjoy my place in the sun. If I just kept moisturising daily and getting those waxes it would all be fine. I also vowed to drink more water. Frown less. Wear sunglasses more often. And stop smiling because that causes laugh lines, which is just a polite way of saying wrinkles.

Now, when I look at  photos of myself or do my daily mirror perusal, I see a faded , pasty,  aging ,  tired shadow of my former self.   Which would be totally fine if I wasn't only 43. 

Looking at myself I ask, are those jowls forming?  Are those dark circles and bags under my eyes? Is my face actually dropping? And excuse me , but is it really neccesary for my boobs to try to meet my knees? OMG! Bingo Wings! More grey hair?  Is that down on my face? Am I turning into a duck? That's just plain wrong. When did my looks decide to go on  holiday  and why wasn't I informed? Wow! I've really let myself go!

So  while I was shaving my legs and toes and scrubbing and moisturising my feet for their super model photo shoot ,with lavender and peppermint foot balm no less, which  I have only used twice since I bought it 6 months ago, which is coincidentally the same amount of times I've actually scrubbed my feet in the last 6 months as well, I got to thinking about ways I could defy the ageing process.  

So  I dragged out the warming  mineral mud and gave myself a facial. I had visions of looking 30 and glowingly radiant again when I scrubbed it off. After I had finished scaring the dogs and Mr. P. (and now -you. Sorry)

Guess What? I still look at least 50. Sure-my skin felt good, but walking around like the Bride of Frankenstein for 15 minutes didn't wipe a single year off.  Despite daily moisturising my face is starting to look like a dried out apple. Even makeup isn't hiding the bags and circles anymore-in fact I think tarting up actually enhances them.    I've realised  I can obsess about this or I can accept it and  I'm not going down to biology without a  fight. Screw you biology!  I'm going to obsess- big time. Which makes me shallow and vain and I don't care. It's time to be vain. I might be able to squeeze a couple more good years outta this face yet.

 And I totally agree that youth really is wasted on the young. Now 'fess up-what's your vanity?


Marg said...

The good news, I wish I looked as fabulous as that! Even with all my makeup in full glory I think you look better in a face mask!
The bad news, it's all down hill from here. The rogue hairs sprouting out all over your chin !!! Nasal hair. Wrinkles breeding like rabbits. Gravity. Eyesight failing, although that is kind of a good/bad thing. You can't see the ravages of time as well, so you think you still look ok, until the day a "girlfriend" buys you a magnifying mirror with lights for your birthday, so you can see all those hairs you need to remove.

Baa-Me Kniits said...

I have never been a make-up before you leave the house type of Gal either, just slapped on the SPF 15 moisturiser which has not stopped the wrinkles as Promised!! Just recently I dreaded my hair to save the hassle of 'getting my hair right on a bad hair day', but the thing that annoys me the most about getting older is the failing eyesight. How awful not to be able to see under the arms to shave! Now I have to try the painful alternative of waxing! Last time I tried that I chickened out halfway thru and then had a terrible time getting the wax off....aaaahhhhh! I know with the whole Dread, Eco Friendly, Back to Nature thing going on I should just let it all be natural but I don't know maybe I have been brainwashed by society???? I just can't seem to go there! So there you have it.... my little vanity :-)

Marg said...

Oh sorry I forgot......... my vanity............ have to wear foundation out of the house, as my skin is very red and blotchy, I didn't wear foundation until I was in my mid 30s. Having my roots done every 3 weeks to hide those greys. It's costing me a fortune, I have tried doing it myself on more than a few occasions with not very flash (disastrous) results. Pedicures, aaaaaaaahhhhhh, didn't have one of those either until my late 30s, now...must have at least a couple of times a year.

A Garden of Threads said...

My hair color is 90% white, which is OK as I hate roots and hate to pay a hair stylists to color it. But I hate that my eyebrows and lashes are going white as well, so every 6 weeks I will get the brows died. Lashes I have not bit the bullet, yet, but give me time. My vanity is my white eyebrows.

Elizabeth said...

I've had dark circles under my eyes since I was 20. And freckles. And pale skin. Add to that stretch marks, a belly that didn't snap back after baby #2, two ugly c-section scars (none of which I show off, but still know they're there), 30 extra lbs. from a miscarriage after that and the fact that I'm going to have to start tucking my boobs into my belt despite the latest gravity defying bra from Victoria's Secret, and you've got every female beauty insecurity all rolled up into one 5' 5" package.

Kirsten's Cooking said...

Well, I wasn't sure what to mention until I read all of the comments....yes, I have huge stretch marks (I carried an 11 lb 4 oz baby and delivered her naturally...not sure if you realize with all the metric conversions, but this is a HUGE baby). Yes, I have dark circles under my eyes. Yes, I'm carrying an extra 15-20lbs.

I do wear moisturizer with spf 15, because I've been counting on preventing wrinkles - I'm feeling a little disillusioned based on the comments of the above posters.

I'm not sure what my "vanity" used to be one of my front teeth, but thankfully, we invested in an implant with a perfectly constructed crown covering it!

I am unhappy with my lower body, but every time I start to feel crappy, I think of my cousin who was paralyzed in a car accident at 32 and I'm put into perspective.

By the way, I think you look pretty cute in your mask!

Brenda said...

Love the mask picture and the musings of aging! My vanity is my smile. I've been told "it's wonderful" and even though I am carrying an extra 40 pounds and my hair is thinning (and it went straight!), my boobs are sagging, my feet are definitely NOT beautiful, etc., etc. I seem to think if my smile still looks nice I am okay. P.S. I am realizing too, now that I am a grandmother, that no one is really looking at me anyway.

Unknown said...

I am so sorry that all of you have such horrible problems with your bodies. I am only 53 and my boobs are still perky (and rather large), I have no facial hairs or wrinkles, grey hair would never come close to me and my weight is perfect!! It's April Fools Day, right?!?!

Lisa said...

I think you look good! I'm good at complaining about my imperfections too, but I know someday I'll look back and wish I looked like what I do now.... so enjoy it and don't worry about what others may think! Live life and love it, and try not to look in the mirror too often. If only I could see myself as my husband does! =) Just remember that radiance and happiness from within is beautiful, and work on that!!

Anonymous said...

I blame all my weight issues with having moved to the 'tropical zone'. All that fluid had to go somewhere (and that would be every limb on my body). I can't remember the last time I had slim ankles and normal toes, for the past three and a half years I've had sausage toes(sigh). I keep having visions of when I move back 'down south' I wont be able to get off the toilet and I'll be a size 8 again (dream on!) LOL

Simply UnFlabulous said...

I am with you here Sister Quilt. I hope and pray that daily moisturizer, topped with the fact that I don't wear a lot of superfluous crap on my face, my face will not deceive me but I am starting to see the tell tale signs of laughter and age. I admire you posting that picture. I probably would have done the same. For the record, you look fantastic!

Shirley said...

Your skin looks very smooth to me. I can see your laugh lines but laugh lines are beautiful. I used to wear makeup every day but then I moved to a small town where women over 30 or so don't wear make up. My hair and eyelashes are totally white but I tried mascara and it makes me look funny. Luckily at my age (almost 59) I can't see anymore so need glasses. DH says they "complete my face" whatever the heck that means. I'm apparently overweight but my doctor didn't say by how much. I call those things under my arms pudge pots. I've had them before - I was 3 - but they looked cute then. The thing I really don't like is my mouth. I have my gr grandmother's mouth which turns down on the sides naturally. Makes me look angry all the time.

lw said...

Even with the mask on, you have a very pleasant face, and I like the laugh lines.

I noticed when I hit 48 that my face was starting to resemble my basset hound. And I thought our dogs were supposed to be chosen to look like us, not that we were supposed to morph into them.

Shay said...

I am so glad it's not just me who thinks they're falling to bits with each passing moment! I feel so reassured by your comments. Is that sad?

vawriter said...

True--misery loves company, but laughter does too! If we lose our sense of humor as we age, how dreadfully sad that would be. It's bad enough that we're vulnerable to the indignities of aging, but please, God, leave me the ability to laugh at it.

I think you look great, btw, Miz P. You wil think so, too, if you do what I do...find some REALLY old people to hang around. Every time I take Dad to a WWII reunion, I return feeling like the Hot Young Chick!

Moisturizer and sunscreen DOES help prevent premature aging,(this is what i told Nonna: "If you don't wear it, you'll look like your own saddle by the time you're 40!") but nothing stops plain old aging. Gravity wins every time.

My not-so-secret vanity is the roots thing, esp since I went red. I mean those silvery suckers really show up against red!

But I did get carded Saturday when I bought my "senior discount" movie tickets. I think I'll keep the red hair.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I missed this great post. So Sorry! I think you look great, by the way. Aging sucks, doesn't it? What they tell you when you are young is that you will grow old (or die young). What they do NOT tell you is that, while your body grows old, your MIND will still be young and you will look in the mirror expecting to see your 25 year-old-face and see your whatever face and say WTF. Maybe the next step is not expecting to see the young face, but expecting to see an older face and saying to yourself, Damn, I still look fine. I hope so. Great post, Mrs. P. Your courage is stunning.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and my vanity thing, I guess, would be the body part. I used to have a very slim, athletic body type. Suffice it to say that has changed a bit:-)

Shevvy said...

I was a fat ginger glasses wearing kid with lots of freckles! I'm still that person at 40!

It took me years to find anything to be vain about until I finally realised my dead straight red hair was auburn and it stood out in a good way. Of course I then started going grey in my mid 20s, without hair dye I had pure white streaks at each temple. Its now bad all over so I have to do the roots every 4 weeks.

The other positive with the extra weight if they fill out the lines. Burning at the slightest hint of the sun has kept me in the shade and saved my skin from going leathery.

Finally, with a lot of heavy engineering in the bra department and a deep v neck I can create a cleavage that stops most people noticing all the flaws detailed above!

Anonymous said...

OK, so apparently my memory is going. I read your latest post but before commenting, saw the photo at the bottom, thought it was intriguing, and read the post. Never realizing that I had already read it. I was formulating my comment as I read: "I think you look great. I think you are incredibly brave" something like that. Then I'm flying past the prior comments to get to the box where I get to comment and, wait a sec, was that a chicken I just saw? So I back up and sure enough, there is a chicken comment saying, guess what, you look great and are very brave. I may not have much of a memory even though I'm not a nana yet, but at least I'm consistent. And Shea, you are beautiful and one of my favorite bloggers in all this big wide world regardless of anything else.