"Mom, I think I'm getting wrinkles," I said.
"Wow," she replied, "Nothing makes you feel old like hearing your daughter say she's getting wrinkles."
My friend came walking down our stairs, holding her sleeping child, and she paused to look at my bridal picture. "I love that picture," she whispered, "I can't believe how much younger you look! Isn't it sad what kids do to you?"
Ummmm, yes. Let me get this straight - you think I look bad enough that I should be sad about it?
Well, it's true folks - I'm getting older. The lines around my smile don't seem to go away anymore...even when I'm NOT smiling. My freckles are darker than they used to be - and somehow not so cute. My forehead has permanent lines, and I fear the bags under my eyes are here to stay.
I always knew that I was going to get old and wrinkled - and this never bothered me before. But I think I neglected the fact that I'm getting older every day. That 25 would look different than 20 - even though those 5 years haven't seemed like very long. So I'm coming to grips with the fact that I'm just going to get wrinklier. :)
This wrinkle-thought has started me thinking on beauty and how we are completely dependent on what our own society says is beautiful. When I became a MaryKay consultant (which didn't last long!) I went to a couple of training meetings early on. I remember my director saying, "Selling cosmetics is a smart business to be involved in because there will always be a demand. Even during times of depression - ladies will be discouraged that they can't afford a new outfit...so they'll buy a tube of lipstick instead." Yes, in America lipstick is beautiful. Wrinkles are not.
At the ward Trunk-or-Treat party last Saturday night, I overheard a 'Napolean Dynamite' father ask his 'princess' daughter, "Are you sure you want to wear those shoes outside?" I glanced down and saw that each foot had four toes shoved into a tiny high-heeled princess shoe...the fifth toe wouldn't fit, so it was hanging out the side on it's own. Her back heel was hanging an inch or so off the back of the shoe, but she shuffled a few more steps (with her back hunched over to absorb some of the pain) and said, "YES, Dad. I want to wear these shoes!" I giggled a little bit and the father looked up at me, shaking his head, and said, "The price you women pay for beauty..."
But again, the interesting thing to me is that the price I might pay for beauty isn't necessarily the price someone else might pay, and it might seem down right ridiculous to someone from another culture. My parents visited the Hill Tribes in Thailand and sent these pictures to me. Beauty, to these Thai women, is having a long neck. From an early age, girls wear these gold necklaces around their necks - adding one each year - to give them beauty. They often have cuts and sores on their shoulders and chins from rubbing against the necklaces; and if they take the necklaces off as an adult, they aren't able to hold their own heads up because of poor muscle tone. This seems ridiculous to me. But I wonder what they would say to some of our ideas of beauty. "They cut extra skin off their FACES??" "They RIP the hair off their bodies with wax?? Wait...the hair off of WHERE??"
So, I'm going to make my own society that says: aging is beautiful. My wrinkles show experience, laughter, and wisdom. My bagged eyes show 'motherhood' and, with that, the selfless service involved. My dark freckles show beach trips, camping trips, and other sunny vacations. I don't look like I did when I was twenty because I'm not twenty.
And I'm okay with that.