As the mother of three daughters, closely approaching 50 I am very aware of my appearance. I have always had the mantra that I plan on aging gracefully, but recently I have noticed that I am aging faster than I would like and my grace just can’ keep up. In other words it is easy to say you don’ mind getting older, until you realize you are in the midst of it. I guess you can say I have had that “OMG moment‚Äù – I’m getting old and my body can’ hide it anymore.
When will you have your “OMG moment‚Äù? When will you look in the mirror and think, where did all these wrinkles come from, what are these dark spots or why do I suddenly have my mother’s double chin?
Women struggle with the pressures imposed by our youth driven culture and the Photoshop altered movie star images (remember Jamie Lee Curtis’ lashing out at the media) but even more importantly we struggle with our own fragile self image which we have been formulating and adjusting our entire lives. For most of us it isn’ a case of body dysmorphic disorder but rather a constant reconciliation with what we see in the mirror and what we so desperately want to see.
Some women experience the change of their appearance gradually and don’ seem to acknowledge their changing and sagging bodies, or wrinkles that pop up overnight as anything other than the natural progression of their lives. Good for them! For others this is a shocking realization of lost potential and a sense that they have stumbled upon some point of no return.
This sense of loss can send you on a journey of self-loathing and many women conclude that they need some sort of intervention (plastic surgery, botox injections, dermabrasions, etc). This intervention can be an attempt to reconcile how they feel about themselves on the inside to what they see on the outside.
The hope is that if you can control the progression of the changes in your body, then you can gain control of your aging process. And we all want control. This can lead to many costly plastic surgeries, which ultimately may not resolve the underlying issues. Check out my blog entitled Mommy Wants a Makeover in which I discuss some of the pros and cons of plastic surgery.
As an example, a good friend of mine who is a bright, talented woman has had that dreaded OMG moment and this has thrown her on a trajectory of cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries. She has spent a small fortune. Unfortunately this has not resolved the underlying issues that stem from her inability to accept that she is no longer a 20 something “hot mama‚Äù but rather a valued, mature mother of two who can still have the spirit of a teenager if not the body. Her discontentment and the financial and emotional stress of her crisis have taken a toll on her marriage. Because she is unable to reconcile her outside appearance with her internal sense of self her world is crumbling around her. At the end of the day she may end up with a beautiful outside reflection but be a shell of her self on the inside.
A good plastic surgeon will remind patients that cosmetic surgery does not lead to life contentment. The fact is that even after plastic surgery, you continue to age — no duh! And the aging process will affect the appearance of a nip and tuck area as easily as if you hadn’ had the procedure.
Additionally, plastic surgery will not solve a life problem. Many women succumb to the lure of believing that perky breasts, a more youthful face or less jiggling parts will increase employment opportunities or heal the grief from a broken relationship, or loss of a job. But it is so important to remember that, plastic surgery only changes the outside, it will not mend the inside.
There is no question that you will have that OMG moment of where did my young body go, but the real question is how will you handle it? Instead of suffering in silence, I think maybe women need to unite and be the change. We should no longer accept any outside pressure on how we feel about our bodies from the media but rather learn to love ourselves complete with wrinkles and jiggles. For myself I’m not ruling out some nips and tucks in the future but I need to be sure that I am doing it for the right reasons and not to conform to some unattainable ideal.