Tag Archives: Beauty

One For The Ages

I’ll be 40 years old in a month and I got my first birthday present: an age spot on my arm.

According to this guy, it will be hard to remove.  Thankfully it isn’t large or pronounced, nor is it obvious.  But I know it is there.

For the past eight birthdays, my body has given me a new “You Are Aging!” birthday present.  One year, the skin next to my eyes wasn’t a smooth.  Another year, my backside seemed to have dropped 2 inches (guess I was paying too much attention to my not-flat abs).  Last year, the skin on my hands and arms was missing some elasticity.

I have a friend who spends an incredible amount of money on anti-aging programs.  He has the money to do so – adult children, no spouse.  He had a facelift (and can I tell you it turned out great! He looks like a regular person, just fewer wrinkles) and he gets hormone shots.  I complained in front of him about aging and he said skin is the one area no one has been able to truly turn the tide on.  Which is sad because it is the part every one sees.  Who cares of my heart is the age of a 30 year old if my face looks 50.

My parents gave me the most important anti-aging tool: good genes.  Both my father and mother look extremely young for their age – my dad still has all of his hair at 71 years.  But it is what I have done with those genes that makes the difference.  I have never been much of a sun worshiper since I burn and once I turned 30 I got very serious about my skin.  But, again, the tide can’t be turned once it comes in.  Lines don’t actually fade.  Skin can’t get more taught once it loses its spring.  Brown spots stay brown.

Can you tell this bothers me?

I could go into my psychology about beauty, my personal looks, my mother, etc.  I don’t know that it would help though.  I could blame it on “society” and the pressure to look young.   I do, actually, look young…for 40.  Isn’t that the game?

Here’s my real problem: I focus on what could have been but wasn’t.  My lifestyle has changed but my mind-set hasn’t.  I’ve been married for 8 years but I still want to be attractive – to men.  I am no longer someone in any kind of spotlight but I continue to worry about being presentable.  I don’t have to compete for anything using my looks, but I still want to be envied for them.  If I give up these tendencies, though, will I let it all go to Hell and be just another mom in a pair of sweatpants at the park?  Perish the thought!

I’ll never be one of those moms that looks amazing in a bikini – not my body type.  But I’d like to be pretty for the rest of my life.  I’d like to strive for turning heads when I walk into a room, like my mother does.  You are welcome to judge me as shallow and self-focused.  That won’t be anything new and is unlikely to change.  What I would like to change is worrying about every new case of aging evidence without giving up completely.  How have you dealt with growing older, or other transitions that are indisputable? Or how have you tried to fight it?

UPDATE: I’ve had lots of views (awesome!) but almost no comments.  Really want to know how you are dealing with aging.  Really!

Sing Praise, but Softly

Note: This post might seem like just another parenting question, and in some ways I guess it is.  That said, input is not exclusive to parents.  If you are someone without children, I invite you to read and comment.  While you might not be a parent right now, you are a child to somebody, and so you have experience being parented.  That alone is qualification enough to have a worthwhile opinion about what I should do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about praise.  You see, my child (I call her L) is really pretty.  She is also our only child, and while I would like to think that my adoration of her is because she is All That, apparently I am devoted because she is my only focus.  (So happy to know I truly, truly am only as good as Pavlov’s dog.)  Given that she is exceptionally beautiful and our only child, my compliments are basically free-flowing, without restraint.

cakeI have heard a bit about a more constrained approach to praise, a movement started because, apparently, kids nowadays were so overpraised that they have unrealistic expectations about themselves and the world.  They expect, for example, just by showing up they need to be acknowledged.  What is considered baseline participation is elevated to effort.  Worse yet, they resent their parents for setting them up so poorly (alas, parents never get a break do they?).  I read this, which is an article about why overpraising is bad and how to praise in a way that works.  Most important is to hold back, don’t do it all of the time. for everything.

I want to say I think the article is a bunch of silly psycho babble but some of it made sense.  Given how hard we work to get L to persevere through frustration and to make positive choices rather than throw a tantrum, I can see how this doctor would say praising the effort over the result works.  I don’t have an issue with that.

I feel resistance, though, when I consider holding my tongue to compliments of her looks.  It might seem silly or petty, but when I look at my child, in certain moments, I am overcome with love.  I might say, “I love you,” and I might say, “You are so lovely.”  Sometimes I greet her with, “Hi, pretty.”  I will even hold her like a baby in my lap and softly say, “Look at that sweet face,” before giving her nose a little kiss.  We are an affectionate family and we don’t hold back on affection, ever.

Now I am having second thoughts about that.  I mean, who would have thought that doing the above meant I was practicing bad parenting?  I talk to my child like my mom and dad talked to me.  Yes, I can relate to the doctor’s report that children discount their parent’s compliments:

“I can’t tell you how many children and teenagers have noted to me that they are skeptical of their parents’ praise because, ‘It’s just my Mom saying I’m pretty. She has to say that because she’s my mother.'” – Ruth A. Peters, Don’t Turn Your Child Into A Praise Junkie.

This is how I felt when my mom complimented me, too.  Do I know that it is because she praised me too much or is it simply something kids go through with their parents?  I had an interesting situation with my mom that L won’t have with me: my mom was a model (locally, doing runway work and some photography) when I was young and into my teens.  Before puberty we had the same body but then I got boobs and hips.  I looked at my mom and thought that if she was a model then how she looked was the standard.  Once I deviated from the standard, I was no longer pretty.  I kept this secret, even from myself, until I was mature enough to deal with my insecurity.  This had nothing to do with my mother saying I was beautiful when I was little.  This was something she could never have controlled.

So, the question is: can I compliment L too much?  My husband and I talk about the context of being pretty, like we tell L that being pretty is not a way to introduce herself.  I also use Cinderella as an example of how being pretty on the outside isn’t enough – being a good person is what wins over the animals who eventually come to her aid.  However, I worry that she will focus on the beauty, or what if we don’t keep the compliments up for some reason and she thinks, “Am I no longer pretty?”  She wouldn’t ask us – it would be a conclusion she would draw on her own, like I did with my mother.  At the same time, I can’t see cutting back and not expressing myself.  I don’t want to remove one of the great pleasures of parenting – reveling in the beauty (in and out) of my child.

So tell me from your experience, whatever that experience is, can I compliment my child too much?  Or is expressing myself fully the right to path to take?

About the Bikini Line

Thanks everyone for your advice, and for the links! I’ve decided to go with a boyshort bikini, even if I have to wear them over a one piece. I hate bikinis!

J and I haven’t had a chance to go to the gym together much and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to dip into the tub, but it sure will be a good bathing suit to have for the summer when I am getting close to that waxing appointment!

Thanks, again!