"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Thursday, June 09, 2016

with apologies to nora ephron

I posted up this 16-year-old photo of myself on Facebook yesterday. I love it, of course, because I’m standing next to Hillary (those cheekbones!), and I wanted to share that special moment from years ago with my pals. But while studying it, I started thinking about the changes that have taken place on that punum of mine since 2000.

As the face in the mirror has started to resemble my mother and various aunts, I admit I tug at my skin, pulling it back and up and twisting the folds this way and that to see how much better I’d look if the extra skin and the wrinkles weren’t there.  I get facials each month, and sometimes I find myself asking Holly about the slick, glossy pictures in her “tranquility waiting area” that boast the latest and greatest in skin tightening technology. “Think I’d be a good candidate for that?” I’ve even tried a couple of the harmless, non-invasive, expensive, not very effective procedures with catchy names (Venus Freeze!), but ultimately I just go back to pinching and pulling in front of the mirror.

My mother had really nice skin, and she didn’t have much of a saggy neck, so I always figured I’d be in good shape as I aged. But now I’m pretty sure the skin genes from my dad’s side must have had some epic battle with my fair, delicate maternal skin genes, and their swords proved far mightier.

(I swear, if I could just do something about my neck, I’d be happy. Really!)

Anyway, the article I saw in the Huff Post this morning hit home and made me feel slightly better about all things related to my epidermis. I thought I’d share these lovely photos and words for a couple reasons: a) so I can revisit this page when I need a reminder to accept myself the way I am and b) because I know aging women who remain “au naturel” fight an uphill battle each and every day in this crazy Hollywood culture we’ve created for ourselves.

(Oh, and my hair? I'm not giving up the hair color until Eddie goes gray. I refuse to look like I could be his mother. Gotta draw the line somewhere.)

"Wrinkles. Laugh lines. Crow’s feet. No matter what you call them, the creases on your face deepen as you age. But whereas many people look in the mirror and, with a collective sigh, lament the passage of time that’s left its mark on their faces, others embrace the changes, and accept the idea that growing older is an integral — and even beautiful — part of living.
HuffPost photographer Damon Dahlen took portraits of women, aged 52 to 90, who roll their eyes at ageist (and sexist) standards of beauty. Rather than fight the inevitable effects of aging, they see the lines on their faces as a road map of their lives. They are the etchings of many years fully lived — and each and every one of them has been earned.
So why not show them off? Take a look at their gorgeous portraits below and read what each woman has to say about embracing the beauty of every age."  Shelley Emling, Huff Post

Sandra LaMorgese, 59

“I am really looking forward to turning 60. I still feel like I’m 30. I don’t feel any different than I did at 30. The mirror image is the only thing that’s changing — and that’s in a good way. At first I did not like what I saw when I started aging because it was new. But then I changed my mind about what sexy and beautiful is — and I didn’t mind. The wrinkles did bother me at first — but once I changed my perspective, they didn’t. I have a 60-year-old face, which I should. I’m not supposed to look like I’m 25 any more. About 20 years ago, a woman said to me ‘I feel sorry for you because you are so beautiful that when you turn older and ugly, you won’t be able to handle it.’ I told her, ‘I’m not going to get ugly. I’m just going to age.’ We think aging has to do with being ugly. But it’s not ugly. It’s beautiful.”

Barbara Grufferman, 59

“I feel good because I exercise. And that all happened after I turned 50. I started wearing sunscreen and trying to stay as healthy and fit as I can. We can look and feel good as we get older if we take care of ourselves. Sleep, exercise and eating well ... all of this is important. Since I turned 50, I wanted to get my act together. What does this mean? What is aging all about? What should I be doing that is different now than what I was doing before? As I inch my way toward 60, I’m looking at what adjustments I should make. My motto is: we can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it. I embrace wrinkles. I call them my laugh lines — and they are my life lines. Because they are part of who I am now. I’ve embraced the evolution completely. At the same time, I want to make sure I’m doing everything right for myself so that I can age with grace and vitality and energy. The goal shouldn’t be to look younger. But you want to look the best you can at whatever age you are.”

Deborah Gaines, 55
“Your vision of beauty is determined when you are quite young. For me, my grandmother was heavy and had wrinkles and gray hair but she personified love for me. She was 95 when she died. And I still thought of her as the most beautiful person I knew. Now I have really reconnected with that feeling. The people who are most important to me find me beautiful because of the love I radiate and it has nothing to do with wrinkles or what is on my face. Until you have a baby, you worry about your body. But when you have a baby you think your body deserves an Academy Award. Being beautiful is about being present to those around you. I’m proud of the map of my face because it’s a map that shows a long and joyful journey.” 

Leslie Handler, 56
“Each new wrinkle tells me that I survived and became happy after every challenge in my life. When I see a new one, it doesn’t bother me. After two babies, my tummy bothered me, but my husband said it reminded him that I had given birth to our two children. I think the 50s are the best of all the decades so far. You really come into your own ... no more questions about what to do with my life ... all the insecurities. You’ve gotten over all that. I had cancer in my 30s. I’m still here. Complain? I don’t complain.”

Carole Paris, 83

“I paint and I like to do faces so whatever success I’ve had with portraits has had to do with the character people had in their faces. Those faces and those wrinkles and lines tell a life story. You can see the essence of the person by looking at their face. I study faces and I see a value in age. There is life there in those faces ... the highs and lows of life. You can see that the person has ridden the waves of life, both the ups and the downs. A face shows the character of a person. I would never think of getting a facelift. You face loses life that way.”

Maria Leonard Olsen, 52

“I tried 50 new things the year I turned 50. After I turned 50, I finally lived a life authentic to me for the first time. Unfortunately that also involved rehab and getting a divorce but I discovered who I really am ... and I am absolutely comfortable with myself. Finally at 50. I got my motorcycle license. I hiked the Himalayas and I raised money to help build a library for impoverished children in Nepal. I learned to horseback ride. I got my first book published. I finally know who the authentic Maria is. I lived the first half century of my life trying to please others. But now I’m living for myself. I have a definite feeling I’m on the downslope of my life and actually I guess I am and so I want to make it count. Wrinkles are a natural part of aging. When I was young, I disliked my dark skin and looking different from my friends and classmates but now I revel in my uniqueness.”

Iris Krasnow, 61

“I’ve had gray hair since I was in my early 30s. I learned early on to not get my self-esteem or my sense of beauty from my exterior but from my heart and my passions and my engagement in life. The happiest people I know are the most fulfilled. They have a sense of passion and purpose and are surrounded by people they love. Very rarely do I hear ‘oh, I’m so happy because I am the same weight I was in high school.’ The message I like to share is don’t count on your looks because they change. Discover an inner source of energy and fulfillment that has everything to do with your heart and soul and very little to do with your exterior. One thing for sure in life is that your exterior is going to change. I believe strongly in feeling beautiful without the knife. For me, wrinkles are ... they are a map of my life. I have four children. I have a husband of 28 years. I’ve enjoyed my life.”

Juliet Baisden, 62

“I am happy at this age. To me, my photos of me look the same now as years ago. Not much different. I like the way I look. I put on some weight but my face remains the same. Aging is an honor. Some people freak out when they see gray hair or wrinkles. I don’t. I feel young. I feel very young. When I tell people my age, they don’t believe it. I enjoy that.”

Mary Ann Holand, 59

“When I look in the mirror, I still see the little girl that I was and that I still am. I don’t feel 59. I have grandkids now, so I guess that makes me believe I’m 59. But that’s about it. I love the TV show ‘Grace and Frankie.’ I think we need more shows like that, that show amazing older people who hold their own. We have for too long glorified youth instead of people. We’re all on the same journey. After my breast cancer diagnosis, I consider each year a gift. I want to live into my 90s.”

Roz Sokoloff, 90

“I’m a person — not an age. The best thing about my being 90 is that I’m not aware that I’m old. I do everything the way I used to do it. Maybe I get tired quicker but I haven’t been kept back from doing anything I want to do. I don’t play singles tennis any more. But I do tai chi and yoga, and I swim laps. When it comes to my wrinkles, well, I stand back from the mirror at least two feet and I don’t see one wrinkle and that’s the truth. I don’t even know that I have wrinkles. I’m proud of my accomplishments and I don’t care about the wrinkles. I haven’t done any Botox or any facelifts. That stuff's not important to me.”


Anonymous said...

Love this and love you just exactly the way you are!

Anonymous said...

I love this, Gloria. I haven't done it yet, but for a while, I thought I'd give my age as about 10 years older so people would be amazed at how great I look. Decided it wasn't worth it; gonna stick with what I can fix with washed hair, lipstick and a little color on the cheeks. I "went white" first and was very happy when Hal caught up with me. I don't think anyone thought I was his mother because he's a good foot taller than I, but it's nice to have company in the silver mode. - Marti

Anonymous said...

Not so happy with my neck either. Aren't we lucky! I have a good friend who would have been very happy to age along with her neck!