Maybe it’s because of the milestone birthday I’ve reached, or maybe it’s because of studying for an MA and being challenged to challenge and think deeply about everything, but I’ve become more and more aware of how little we appreciate the ageing process – unless it’s to do with antiques, that is!
Why does our Western society worship youth?
Yesterday, a reminder letter arrived from my dentist. Nothing earth-shattering there – just a reminder to schedule a 6-month appointment. But on the letterhead was the announcement – in bold and capitals –
COMING SOON – New Service: Facial Asthetics (line & wrinkle treatments)
At my hairdressers, (which I only visit about once a year!), you are urged to take waxing treatments for all parts of your body, electrolysis to remove body hair if you don’t fancy waxing, and botox and other methods to remove lines and wrinkles.
Other societies revere the wisdom that age brings and lines and wrinkles are a sign of a life that’s been lived, with highs, lows, laughter and tears.
Yes, most of us do want to look as good as we can for our age (!) but how far do you go to look younger than your life experience?
My paternal grandmother was 101 when she died earlier this year, and her face showed her longevity and her passion and enjoyment in living. She had dignity, wisdom, gentleness and steel and all was there to see in her face. A wonderful book, a fascinating read.
Facelifts create a mask – sometimes like a death-mask, it seems to me! In the effort to wipe away the trace of the years, life is wiped away with it. The face’s myriad expressions are paralysed. Visual expression is vital to our human mode of communication, along with body language and verbal/aural language. Without the use of tiny facial muscles, how can we communicate effectively? Lines and wrinkles are merely the result of repetitive facial movements. They express us more clearly than any words. They can tell the lie behind words sometimes. Perhaps that is why people want to eradicate them. Perhaps their faces betray what they really feel as opposed to what they say they feel.
I must confess – I have thought of botox to remove the depth of my frown line. I frown when I concentrate, and I concentrate a lot, so it is a deep line. But it is mostly visible to me. Other people see the laughter lines, the tiny expressions that show humour, passion, love of life, interest. The frown line is mostly employed when I’m looking at the computer, or reading, or thinking deeply, so is not really an expression of who I am to others. Would I really contemplate injecting a poison into my skin to remove such a line? In my less confident moments, yes I would. But when I really think about it, my face is a record of how I live my life, my communication with others, my outlook on life. Would I want to eradicate part of my own history? Remove part of what makes up that entity I call me?
So here’s to lines and wrinkles. Raise a glass of whatever you like to drink and let’s toast life lived!