Friday, October 24, 2014

Forced to Age Gracefully

There has been a whole hubbub the last few days over Renee Zellweger and her new look. I think she looks different but fine - it's not my face or body so it doesn't really matter to me what she looks like. But it got me thinking about the different standards when it comes to aging.

Women aren't suppose to age. Ridiculous, yes, but it's true. Have you ever seen those commercials for anti-aging creme? Have you ever seen a man hawking such a product? Of course not! Men are allowed to age normally whereas women are expected to look as youthful as possible.

It's all bullshit of course but it doesn't stop us from feeding into it. Premature greying runs in my family. Supposedly my grandmother on my dad's side went completely grey by age 16. Of course she started dying her hair.

My sister started finding grey hairs around the same age and she was horrified. She would yank out any she would find. On the other hand, my dad has been grey for as long as I can remember. While some men might feel the need to dye their hair, my dad didn't. It hasn't hurt his career or his dating life after my mom passed.

I've always had a lax attitude towards beauty products. I've always looked younger than I am - once someone thought I was 13 when I was actually over 21. I don't wear makeup and I only color my hair for fun. Lately I've noticed that I'm starting to go grey myself but I'm not going to do anything about it because it's just a part of aging.

In part it's laziness. Putting on make-up takes time and I just don't care. In part it's money because I'd rather spend mine on other things rather than make-up. I am who I am, and that hasn't stopped me from landing a husband, so I'm good.

But I'm just a normal person so I can get away with that. Celebrities, especially women, seem to be pressured into staying as young as possible for their career. That's why so many celebrities get plastic surgery - to stay youthful looking. It doesn't always work.

One of my favorite book series touched on this. The Belgariad by David Eddings is a wonderful sword and sorcery series. In it, there are several magic users who are several thousand years old. Belgarath looks the part as an old man with wrinkles and grey hair, but his daughter Polgara looks to be mid-30's with black hair. When the young boy Garion asks Belgarath why Polgara doesn't look old, he replies that none would take a women who looks old seriously. Sadly this can be true even in our world.

I don't really have a solution to this issue but it's a real one. Hopefully I will still love myself as I continue to age and hopefully that will give at least my daughter a good role model for aging gracefully.

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