Saturday, October 27, 2007

letting myself go

in her essay i worked hard for that furrowed brow, anna quindlen talks herself out of botox treatments to remove the lines on her face.

her argument is basically a two parter--one, those lines represent who she has been + what she has survived, +, two, botox treatment would limit her ability to convey present emotions with any nuance or personality.

in the course of her essay, she states that, when she was younger, she heard people say of older women that they had 'let themselves go.' it's a phrase quindlen secretly admires + has aspired to.

letting yourself go, although obviously meant as negative criticism, also conveys acceptance of self, liberation of that part of your self that's long been repressed, + permission to be yourself now.

depending on your point of view, it's either caving in to time + nature, or embracing time + nature.

it's either laziness or resistance to vanity.

i'm fine with other people's getting facelifts, tummy tucks, hair implants, + cosmetically enhanced pecs. but it's never been my style to do much to resist the course of nature, specifically human nature, more specifically my own nature.

i stay clean. i try to eat reasonably healthy meals without being a purist about diet. i should exercise more than i do, + i'm a bit ashamed for not trying harder.

but i've never seriously considered resisting the male-pattern baldness + graying i inherited. my teeth are crooked, chipped, + far from youthful white. i admire athletes + male models, but i've never been prone to measure myself against them.

men are becoming a larger share of the consumers of facelifts, liposuction, + facial peeling. we live in an age of 'image' + people habitually judge us by our looks. we are under considerable pressure (at work as much as in the clubs) to keep up appearances, to appear more youthful than we are, + to conform to media models of perfect masculine beauty.

i'm of two minds. i admire beauty (even youth) as a virtue. i think one should look as good as he's able. on the other hand, like quindlen, i think it's most important to look like oneself, to treasure the body as it ages as a museum of sorts of all one ever was in the past.

to feel comfortable in one's own skin, it seems to me, is the unique + true path to achieving beauty.

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