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Some thoughts on that tired-looking older person in my mirror

August 21, 2017

Just the other day, I accidentally hit the Photo Booth button on my laptop, and was jolted by the image of a person I barely recognized staring back at me. She had a sagging jawline and jowls, a neck wattle, and deep troughs under her eyes. She looked so tired, old and not pretty.

But even with better lighting, a good night’s sleep and full makeup, the undeniable fact is this: I’ve aged. And getting to accept, without judgment, the visage of that person I see in the mirror or on my screen, well, it’s a process.

I’ve toyed with the idea of plastic surgery, using my fingers to lift and pull my skin to visualize what a neck- and facelift might make possible. And then I think, hey, my husband loves and still desires me just the way I am. The other people who matter to me—friends, family, colleagues—accept and value me for who I am, not what I look like.

Hence, my reasoning goes, why should I spend upwards of $15,000 so absolute strangers will think I’m younger than my actual age? Is it really so bad that men on the street no longer catcall me, or asshole guys don’t hit on me? Um, no.

And frankly, I’d rather spend the money on redoing the kitchen.

But the fact that so many of us question our worth at this stage of life—based on our aging countenances—affirms the extent to which the beauty industry and our society have done a number on us women. The invisibility that so many older women feel, and the lengths that some of us are willing to go in order to fit some externally defined concept of beauty, well, it sucks.

If beauty’s only
skin deep, why does its fading
shake our sense of self?

In fact, according to a November 2016 Washington Post article, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports that the number of people 65 and older getting facelifts and cosmetic eyelid surgeries has more than doubled over the last two decades, with much of that increase occurring over the last five years. The overarching reason they’re going under the knife? To be more visible.

And the list of other things that are deemed in need of fixing seems to get longer all the time. Some of the more ridiculous ones I’ve read about lately:

  • Pit puffs (sounds like an hors d’oeuvre, doesn’t it?), those little pads of fat near the armpits, can be targeted with CoolSculpting, a non-surgical fat-freezing procedure that claims to eliminate stubborn fat that resists diet and exercise
  • Vaginal rejuvenation, which usually combines vaginoplasty (tightening of the vagina) and/or labiaplasty or vulvaplasty (reshaping of the vulva or labia), because—according to one website—“a recontoured, trim vagina may boost your self-confidence.”
  • Dimpleplasties, a surgical procedure to add dimples like those modeled by celebrities (think Jennifer Garner or Mario Lopez) when they smile
  • Chin cleft surgery (the Urban Dictionary refers to this as a “butt chin”), which apparently is a sought-after trait in Hollywood
  • Eyebrow transplants for those seeking the Frida Kahlo/Keira Knightley look
  • Toe shortening to make women’s feet conform to some idealized version of perfection; these procedures can cost between $2,000 and $15,000 for a complete foot makeover. Sounds like a modern-day version of foot-binding to me.

Look, I’m not judging women who do choose to undergo nips and tucks. Hell, I had an eyelift and facial rejuvenation done 15 years ago as part of a midlife makeover I wrote about for a lifestyle magazine, and I felt really good about how much younger and well-rested I looked as a result.

What’s more, when certain conditions legitimately impair a woman’s health and/or quality of life, and plastic surgery offers a solution you can afford, I say go for it.

But the “Kardashianization” preoccupation with looks and youth in our culture is NOT healthy. It’s one thing that so many of us baby boomers are going under the knife or needle but, according to the ASAPS, Botox use among millennials aged 19 to 34 jumped 87% between 2011 and 2016, with last year alone seeing a 31% increase from 2015. Sad.

And my sister told me about a TV show called “Botched”—about plastic surgery gone wrong—and one episode in which a 30-something woman with already-hugely enhanced breasts wanted to go bigger because she aspired to be “tits on a stick.” WTF?

Billy Crystal’s “Fernando” character from the early “SNL” days used to say, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” Having just come through a health scare, which I wrote about in my last post, I call bullshit. Feeling good is way better.

The fact is, at 64, I am more comfortable than ever in my own skin—even if gravity and sun damage have left their mark. I’ve earned my lines and wrinkles—and I’ve learned that getting rid of them won’t increase my worth as a person, won’t make Hubs love me any more than he already does, and won’t contribute to world peace.

Bottom line, if someone is going to judge me based on my looks, I have two words for them: Bite me.

A kitchen facelift, on the other hand, could increase the value of our condo, make me a better (or at least more frequent) cook since I’d be inclined to spend more time in the kitchen (and that just might make Hubs love me more), and improve our home’s energy efficiency (which would reduce our reliance on foreign oil and thereby contribute to world peace).

I think that’s a much better investment, don’t you?

How do you feel about aging and its impact on your looks? Are you comfortable with your reflection? Have you undergone any cosmetic procedures? Do you want to? Would you rather have a new kitchen? A new car? A fun vacation? Please share…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  • 32 thoughts on “Some thoughts on that tired-looking older person in my mirror

    1. Crystal says:

      I would definately go for the new kitchen ❤️ I find true beauty in aging. I see 50 beginning to make it’s way onto the face I see in the mirror . . . Some days, I’ll admit, my reflection taunts me, but I know I’ve earned every little change the years have etched upon my skin. I try to look deeper and see the life I’ve lived, the memories I’ve made, and remember the girl I used to be is still staring back at me.

      1. Roxanne says:

        I love the way you think, Crystal! And I adore what you wrote, especially “I…remember the girl I used to be is still staring back at me.” Thank you for your thoughtful and eloquent comment!

    2. Haralee says:

      I have had way too many surgeries so I am not one to elect to have another. Decades ago I went to a psychic who told me not to have any elective surgery. I thought it odd but hey he was a psychic. Come to find out my body produces lots of scar tissue so I have built up scar tissue where I have had surgeries for injuries and diseases. Not a good thing for cosmetic surgery! I need a new car and the kitchen remodel sound great.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Wow–what a thing to hear from a psychic, Haralee! And I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t opt for elective cosmetic surgery, given how your body responds. Amazing how our priorities shift as we get older, huh? Thanks, as ever, for commenting.

    3. Barbara says:

      I had a middle-aged tummy tuck. It was botched and now I have a knot of scar tissue in my lower abdomen and, apparently, that has pushed any ‘new’ fat to my upper abdomen. So if you look at me sideways I look like a cartoon baseball umpire. I try to camouflage as much as I can and still try to accept my mistake, but I can’t forgive myself for the damage done.
      The moral of this story is…be genuine from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. It’s much safer!
      b

      1. Roxanne says:

        Yikes, Barbara! I’m sorry that happened to you. I appreciate your candor and sharing a hard lesson learned. The beauty industry/magazines make these procedures sound so easy-breezy, but there are ALWAYS risks (including bad doctors). P.S. You are a genuinely beautiful person!

        1. Barbara says:

          Aww, thanks, Roxanne. When are you coming down to the Jersey Shore for a visit?? We need a visit!
          xob

          1. Roxanne says:

            I know, Barbara! Maybe this fall?

    4. I couldn’t agree more. A kitchen lift is far more appealing. I went under the knife 3 times last year for non-cosmetic reasons, and that is far more than I ever want to have again. If you don’t like my looks, then don’t look! 🙂

      1. Roxanne says:

        I like your attitude, Shirley! Thank you for commenting.

    5. Hi Roxanne! I’ll bet you can guess which side of the fence I am on this issue. But remember…research also says that we end up appreciating experiences far more than we do things…so I’m thinking that $15,000 would be better spent on a really awesome vacation that you will never forget!!! Besides, as as a guy named Marty Buccella said, “When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.” ~Kathy

      1. Roxanne says:

        LOVE that quote, Kathy! As someone who loves to nest, I still think a new kitchen would make me happy. But I hear you about an amazing vacation (we’re actually looking into buying a small RV in which to go on the road in another year or so…). And California is definitely on our itinerary!

    6. Victor says:

      As I’ve aged, I learned that the most interesting and revealing part of a woman is her eyes. I look into my wife’s eyes and I see love and commitment, which I’ll take over botox and nip/tucks any time. Pat and I are using our money for a month long trip to France and the memories will stay with both of us longer than any plastic surgery.

      1. Roxanne says:

        You go, Victor!

    7. Hi Roxanne! I have no problem with those who need to feel better about themselves and if plastic surgery is the answer good for them. However, I do agree with you and we have to accept aging as part of life. It is our attitude towards it that makes the difference. Yes I’m turning 60 tomorrow but I feel fit & fabulous because I exercise and eat well. I have wrinkles but that is part of my life story and I’m proud of them. xx

      1. Roxanne says:

        Love your attitude, Sue. Taking care of ourselves, and having a positive attitude (that includes gratitude) toward aging is what it’s all about, IMO. And happy birthday to you! Welcome to the best decade yet!

    8. Teri says:

      Couple of thoughts as I cruise into 70 in a few days. I just spent 9 days with my sister in our home town in upstate New York for her 50th high school reunion. She lives in Montana and I hadn’t seen her in 2 years. We shared so many memories and laughed so often, my Light Days pad were getting a workout! Surrounded by others who “came home” for the reunion, we were both voted “most youthful looking” by our contemporaries.
      So it is the special people, places and times shared in love and friendship that don’t age us!
      Having said that, I was noticing how clean my house looks and he smooth my skin looks….must be time for cataract surgery! Rock on together, Roxanne.

      1. Roxanne says:

        LOL! As Billy Crystal’s Fernando character also used to say, “You look mahvelous, dahling!” Laughter keeps us young, don’t you think? Glad you had a great time at the reunion (looking forward to hearing details). You are indeed rocking (about-to-be) 70, my friend!

    9. shelley says:

      Back in my late 40s I was really bothered by the physical changes I was beginning to see staring back at me in the mirror. Then unexpectedly a good friend of mine died at the age of 48. Ever since then, while I don’t always love my reflection, I’m thankful that I’m here to experience those changes. When I feel anxious or upset about anything age related I just remind myself that Linda would have loved to have reached this age. That always makes my reflection look a whole lot better.

      1. Roxanne says:

        If that doesn’t put it all into perspective, I don’t know what does, Shelley. I lost a friend at that age, too. Thank you for this powerful reminder about what matters, and how simply being alive is such a gift.

    10. margaret says:

      When I hit 70, I made a few rules;

      (1) Never open your eyes while doing a Down Dog because you will see your knees smiling at you.
      (2) Do Not under any circumstances do a selfie.
      (3) Take naps. You won’t look any better, but your body and brain will thank you.
      (4) Always wear a hat and sunglasses when being photographed or hide behind a cute child.

      You get the drift…..

      1. Roxanne says:

        Such wisdom, Margie! Thanks for sharing (although I might like to see my knees smiling at me!).

    11. Jennifer says:

      I don’t like turtle neck so when the time comes, that chicken neck is just going g to have to leave me.

      1. Roxanne says:

        A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. No judgment here!

    12. Maria Sims says:

      Hi Roxanne,
      This year I felt the aging more… the mirror and the clothes. I used to just slip into anything. Now it takes longer shopping to find the outfit that disguises your negatives and shows off your positives. I played the game of pulling up my face and wondering. But no. Now I only want to feel good, stay healthy and dress skillfully! Rick still thinks I’m the prettiest girl in the room. He needs glasses! But truth be told, some days I wish I looked younger and other days I am thankful to still be healthy. It is a process of acceptance. When did I become old? It just happened one day. hugs Sheena

      1. Roxanne says:

        It is, indeed, a process of acceptance. And gratitude for being healthy helps with that, for sure! Having someone who loves you just the way you are is an amazing gift, too. Thanks for commenting, Sheena!

    13. When I see an aging celebrity who has had a lot of ‘work’ done, I think she looks freakish. And these are people who have the best plastic surgeons money can buy! I would opt for construction in the kitchen, too, since I’d look at that a lot more than I’d look at my reconstruction. And it would probably last longer. 😉 P.S. I think you are adorable.

      1. Roxanne says:

        I am strangely fascinated by the photos of celebrities who’ve had bad plastic surgery–kind of like the twisted allure of gawking at a car accident, I guess. And as you say, these are the folks who can afford the best–yikes! So yes, kitchen reconstruction definitely seems a safer, more enduring investment. P.S. Aw, thanks! And thanks, as always, for commenting, Molly.

    14. Jeannie Kavanagh says:

      I have never had surgery but I have renovated my entire home. I am truly bothered by my turkey neck and after consulting a dermatologist I have learned that a few injections will get rid of it. Do I like the price ? No…. Is it unreasonable ? No….. So I have decided to go through the procedure . I am an avid tennis player, swimmer and walker … hence , my health is good. I do not spend much on jewellery or eating out so I will be putting my discretionary money towards this procedure . I really think I will be satisfied /happy with the result . Fingers crossed

      1. Roxanne says:

        Good for you! I hope you get the results you want. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Jeannie!

    15. Lynne Spreen says:

      Hi Roxanne,
      This is truly one of the challenges of aging. While it’s wonderful to realize the Bite Me contingent is about everyone, and the non-Bite Me’s are the most important and love you just as you are, still, it’s hard to see what we see. But only because we’re brainwashed. Man, if I could really, really accept that, how cool that would be. But working on it is a worthwhile effort. And like you said, you know what matters more than looks is being happily vertical. Best wishes.

      1. Roxanne says:

        I know you get it, Lynne. And I so appreciate all that you do to confront and explore this in your writing. Thanks for commenting with your usual candor and thoughtfulness!

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