Aspen Princess: More than one way to age gracefully
Going gray is apparently trending as women begin to embrace aging naturally, empowered by the refusal to concede to societal norms, which let’s face it, need to be taken into question.
My own mother only recently gave up coloring her hair at 76. “I’m an old lady,” she complained. “Why do I have to sit around all day with foils in my hair so I can be blonde?” Her natural color isn’t that different from the ashy blonde she’d been getting for so many years. As it grew out, her roots were hardly discernable. Now that she has almost a full head of gray, her eyes look even brighter and more stunning, a blend of blue and green like the Caribbean Sea. I say good for her for finally going natural. Me? I plan to be blonde until the day I die, and go lighter as I get older, like Donatella Versace.
Societal norms have always been a burden for me since I’m a little ethnic and a lot short. Trying to mold myself to these standards for beauty, as I have done for the better part of my life, is like trying to squeeze something from a large tube out of a small hole. I’m short instead of tall, curvy instead of thin, a B cup instead of a D, brown instead of blonde, curly hair instead of straight. If I were to sit down and add up all the money I’ve spent, what, coloring and straightening my hair, buying padded bras, paying for gym memberships and weight-loss programs and owning a closet full of platform shoes (I always said it’s a lot easier to gain 5 inches than lose 5 pounds), I’d probably have enough money to retire. Like Carrie Bradshaw once said, “I like my money where I can see it: hanging in my closet.”
To add to the long list of things I’m not supposed to be, “old” is probably the most expensive of all. Oh, it begins with hair color and skin care (retinol serums, vitamin D moisturizers, eye creams, anti-cellulite creams and chemical peels) but verges into what we like to call “medical cosmetics” which includes things like Botox, fillers, laser skin treatments and then eventually surgical procedures such as face lifts, brow lifts and (as horrifying as this is, it’s a real thing) vaginal rejuvenation. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about already, now it’s not just the size of our pants, but what’s inside our underwear.
The trend toward aging naturally is a pendulum swing back from the extremes people go to look young, embracing these swollen faces and bee-stung lips and frozen expressions as the ideal. When did we decide that was beautiful? Unless you are Angelina Jolie, big, swollen lips always looked more like an injury or a disability (can you actually purse those lips enough to drink from a bottle, for example?) than glamorous.
I started getting Botox when I was 38 years old and loved it right from the start. It was, as a friend of mine once described it, “like running a Zamboni over your face.” The only problem with this little miracle drug is it wears off way too soon (about three to four months, depending) and costs more than a pair of designer shoes. Sure, in my 30s I could get away with having it done twice a year. But as I continue to age, I need more of it more often. “I’m starting to look my age again,” I’ll say on my Botox Lady’s voicemail. “It’s time.”
Here’s the thing: when this stuff wears off and the creases return, the wrinkles on your face as pronounced as an unmade bed, it’s a little horrifying. You’re like a junkie in need of a fix, desperate for your next needle no matter what the cost. Soon, there are no more muscles left to paralyze, leaving you with a perpetually blank or even mildly surprised expression.
I’ve been told I have thick skin (literally, not figuratively) and a very expressive face. What happens when you paralyze some muscles is that others get activated — like the half moon dents that have now appeared around the outer corners of my eyebrows. I call them “hood winks” and they aren’t very appealing; they have that Joker-esque look to them, a little too close to the eye, kind of like my darling deceased pug, Gertie. Then, when you get rid of the horizontal lines on your forehead, you start to get diagonal ones, like the Klingon on Star Trek — not a great look, either.
I gotta hand it to women who are brave enough to say “enough is enough” to these ridiculous standards of beauty that ultimately make us all look a little ridiculous. The women who are strong enough to let the laugh lines demarcate all the good times in their lives and the softness of a more wrinkled face take them into old age gracefully.
Just don’t expect me to be one of those women. Maybe I’m not brave enough or secure enough, but I can’t even imagine walking around with gray, frizzy hair and wrinkles. I always say I’ll stick anything into my face if it shaves a few years off. I’ve eliminated so many foods from my diet it’s amazing I can find anything to eat at all, and I’m still 10 pounds overweight (“Imagine what you’d look like if you didn’t diet,” my mom likes to remind me). I’m going to be at school drop-off well into my 60s, hello. Thanks go to my designer baby (another way to cheat the whole aging thing). I have a 3-year-old, even though I’m perimenopausal and can add hot flashes to my Klingon forehead and the crop of new gray hairs I just noticed in my rearview mirror. And just so you know, that blank expression on my face means I really am happy to see you.
The Princess desperately needs to have her roots done. Email your love to email@example.com.
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