Categorized | Features, Boomer Haiku

Who’s That Tired-Looking Older Woman In The Mirror?

Roxanne takes on body image of an older woman

The invisibility that so many older women feel, and the lengths that some of us are willing to go in order to fit some externally defined concept of beauty, well, it bites.

By Roxanne Jones

Just the other day, I accidentally hit the Photo Booth button on my laptop, and was jolted by the image of a person I barely recognized staring back at me. She had a sagging jawline and jowls, a neck wattle, and deep troughs under her eyes. She looked so tired, old andnotpretty.

But even with better lighting, a good night’s sleep and full makeup, the undeniable fact is this: I’ve aged. And getting to accept, without judgment, the visage of that person I see in the mirror or on my screen, well, it’s a process.

I’ve toyed with the idea of plastic surgery, using my fingers to lift and pull my skin to visualize what a neck- and facelift might make possible. And then I think, hey, my husband loves and still desires me just the way I am. The other people who matter to me — friends, family, colleagues — accept and value me for who I am, not what I look like.

Hence, my reasoning goes, why should I spend upwards of $15,000 so absolute strangers will think I’m younger than my actual age? Is it really so bad that men on the street no longer catcall me, or a**hole guys don’t hit on me? Um, no.

And frankly, I’d rather spend the money on redoing the kitchen.

But the fact that so many of us question our worth at this stage of life — based on our aging countenances — affirms the extent to which the beauty industry and our society have done a number on us women. The invisibility that so many older women feel, and the lengths that some of us are willing to go in order to fit some externally defined concept of beauty, well, it bites.

If beauty’s only

skin deep, why does its fading

shake our sense of self?

In fact, according to a November 2016 Washington Post article, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports the number of people 65 and older getting facelifts and cosmetic eyelid surgeries has more than doubled over the last two decades, with much of that increase occurring over the last five years. The overarching reason they’re going under the knife? To be more visible.

And the list of other things that are deemed in need of fixing seems to get longer all the time. Some of the more ridiculous ones I’ve read about lately:

Pit puffs (sounds like an hors d’oeuvre, doesn’t it?), those little pads of fat near the armpits, can be targeted with CoolSculpting, a non-surgical fat-freezing procedure that claims to eliminate stubborn fat that resists diet and exercise.

Vaginal rejuvenation, which usually combines vaginoplasty (tightening of the vagina) and/or labiaplasty or vulvaplasty (reshaping of the vulva or labia), because — according to one website — “a recontoured, trim vagina may boost your self-confidence.”

Dimpleplasties, a surgical procedure to add dimples like those modeled by celebrities (think Jennifer Garner or Mario Lopez) when they smile

Chin cleft surgery (the Urban Dictionary refers to this as a “butt chin”), which apparently is a sought-after trait in Hollywood.

Eyebrow transplants for those seeking the Frida Kahlo/Keira Knightley  look.

Toe shortening to make women’s feet conform to some idealized version of perfection; these procedures can cost between $2,000 and $15,000 for a complete foot makeover. Sounds like a modern-day version of foot-binding to me.

Look, I’m not judging women who do choose to undergo nips and tucks. Heck, I had an eyelift and facial rejuvenation done 15 years ago as part of a midlife makeover I wrote about for a lifestyle magazine, and I felt really good about how much younger and well-rested I looked as a result.

What’s more, when certain conditions legitimately impair a woman’s health and/or quality of life, and plastic surgery offers a solution you can afford, I say go for it.

But the “Kardiashianization” preoccupation with looks and youth in our culture is NOT healthy. It’s one thing that so many of us baby boomers are going under the knife or needle but, according to the ASAPS, Botox use among millennials aged 19 to 34 jumped 87 percent between 2011 and 2016, with 2016 alone seeing a 31% increase from 2015. Sad.

And my sister told me about a TV show called “Botched” — about plastic surgery gone wrong—in which a 30-something woman with already-hugely enhanced breasts wanted to go bigger because she aspired to be “tits on a stick.” WTF?

Billy Crystal’s “Fernando” character from the early “SNL” days used to say, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” Having come through a health scare last summer, I call B.S. Feeling good is waybetter.

The fact is, at 65, I’m more comfortable than ever in my own skin — even if gravity and sun damage have left their mark. I’ve earned my lines and wrinkles — and I’ve learned that getting rid of them won’t increase my worth as a person, won’t make Hubs love me any more than he already does, and won’t contribute to world peace.

Bottom line, if someone is going to judge me based on my looks, I have two words for them: Bite me.

Roxanne thinks a kitchen facelift is a better option.

 

A kitchen facelift, on the other hand, could increase the value of our condo, make me a better (or at least more frequent) cook since I’d be inclined to spend more time in the kitchen (and that just mightmake Hubs love me more), and improve our home’s energy efficiency (which would reduce our reliance on foreign oil and thereby contribute to world peace).

I think that’s a much better investment, don’t you?

How do you feel about aging and its impact on your looks? Are you comfortable with your reflection? Have you undergone any cosmetic procedures? Do you want to? Would you rather have a new kitchen? A new car? A fun vacation? Please share…

Roxanne Jones writes Boomer Haiku (www.boomerhaiku.com), a blog that takes a mostly light-hearted and often irreverent look at life as a baby boomer as we move through midlife and beyond. She earns her living as a freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. Follow her on Twitter @RoxJonesWriter.

©Copyright 2015. BoomerHaiku, LLC. All rights reserved

5 Responses to “Who’s That Tired-Looking Older Woman In The Mirror?”

  1. Barbara says:

    I’m with you on this, Roxanne! After my recent ‘losing my mind’ scare I am perfectly fine with how I look. We will be celebrating our 50th anniversary in Oct. and I would much rather a fun trip somewhere than a facelift. I’m pretty sure my husband would agree! Besides, I’ve seen too many bad results on others and I’m not willing to take that chance.
    And, You look Fabulous!
    b

  2. Paula says:

    Not to mention that when others look at your face and ponder…. maybe she did have some work done it will be confirmed once they gaze at your hands. You are terrific just the way you are! Besides i know you really want that new kitchen!

  3. I think you’ve made the right investment, Roxanne. A kitchen with a facelift is boss! I don’t sign up for any elective procedures, so cosmetic surgery is totally out for me – even if I did want to spend the money on it, which I don’t. Besides a few of us have to show the world how beautiful 65 year old women can look who have renounced the pressure of intervention. And instead of looking younger some of those movie stars look like freaks!

  4. Haralee says:

    I got a new phone and learning the new bells and whistles I flipped the camera on me and on zoom. Talk about a freight!

  5. sharon white says:

    Roxanne, I\’ve had two surgeries on my face: one resulted in a two-inch scar on my cheek from cancer removal, the other a TMJ procedure which left half my face numb for 6 months. I say: \’embrace your age\’ and get on with living. When I started to \’fade\’ as every mature woman does, I simply filled in my brows and put on some lipstick. Adding color (hair, makeup, clothing, accessories) is cheaper than surgery–and much more fun!

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