Have you ever read the articles, with photos attached of course, about various movie stars with the line “Time has not been kind to …….”? What does that even mean? Are we supposed to look at these human beings who we have put in impossible positions of having to keep up a certain look or physique or standard and now see them with horror, disgust, and disdain for how they have changed over time?
If they don’t have plastic surgery, there are remarks about time having been cruel to them. If they get plastic surgery, there are also plenty of comments about how that is not working out so well, either. It’s a no win situation.
And,, although I am pleased to see the revolution of some older women now being seen as models and the articles talking about their beauty, I am also aware that these women that I see also often fit the societal standard of what is beautiful I do not mean to take away from their beauty and am glad to see different and older ages now being shown – but I am also aware that most of us are not what they are, in terms of beauty (as it is defined in our culture)….so we have yet more images to compare ourselves to and come up short against in comparison.
We all age, if we are lucky enough to live that long. And aging brings lines, and for many of us, extra pounds….it brings skin that doesn’t bounce back like it once did. This is the reality.
I wonder, though, is there a way we can begin to see this and ourselves with kindness and love and appreciation and even admiration for the strength of the survivors that we are? Must we be told to be horrified that “time has not been kind”? Can we ever learn to see those lines and less than perfect bodies as signs of lives well and fully lived?
And what , I wonder, do all these messages about how we are to react to aging do to us when we look at our own evidence of time passing as we gaze in the mirror? Are we to judge ourselves harshly for not looking as we once did? Are we to then quietly sink into invisibility and the background so as not to offend others or be found as less than? Are we to love ourselves less?
Some of the messages about aging are blatant and I am glad to see that we are naming them more and beginning to refuse these deathly labels. Yet I am also aware of how insidious and buried and unconscious many of them may still be….and how we have learned to not even see them, to accept them as truth and to learn to see with the eyes that judge, ridicule and condemn. And, do we do that to ourselves when we look at our own image?
Is looking at aging in the face (literally) too frightening an acceptance of our mortality and slow walk toward our own death? But, if this is true, must we die before we actually die? Can we not live more fully, loving ourselves each step of the way, and learn to embrace who we become and what the becoming looks like on the outside?
These are not questions that can be easily answered. But, maybe, we can continue to ask more of the questions, become more aware of the messages on how we should see ourselves, and begin to perhaps say “no……I will not minimize myself, will not sink into the invisible background, will not see myself as less than or someone that needs to be cast aside.” We have earned the right to fully live, to see ourselves fully – including all the feelings and passions that older people are sometimes seen as no longer having.
It is not time that has been unkind. It is all the judgments that we make about it.
We are still alive. Let us not die before our time.