I'm 34 now, coming quickly on 35. I know that I'll probably get some comments from some older folks, along the lines of "Oh honey, you are still young. Shut up." I know I am, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been slowly dawning to some of the realities of aging.
Cosmetics, for one. Make-up never used to be a "must-have" for me. A little under-eye concealer, a little blush and lip gloss (always lip gloss, though. Gotta do up these "porn star lips" of mine, as pointed out once by an odd chap in high school.) Even back when I worked full-time, in my twenties, I wore so little make-up that my co-workers probably wouldn't have noticed if I just skipped it. And if it was the weekend? Forget it. No time for blush.
Now I wear cosmetics pretty much every day. Even on weekends. Even doing my mom thing. It's not that I think that I look like a gremlin without it. But after I put it on, I find myself looking in the mirror, breathing a sigh of relief and thinking, "Now that's better." Make-up makes a difference now, whereas five years ago, it really didn't.
Photograph-wise, I'm dismayed to find that I am turning into my own mother. I'm now horrified to see close-ups of myself on the camera. I instruct Jason, "Don't take any of me. Just focus in on Anna." It's like I can hear my mother's voice coming out of my mouth. And I never understood her, growing-up. I thought my mom was lovely in photos. What was her problem? She just looked like my mom. Now I'm looking at my own image with wrinkles, dry skin, unruly gray hairs, mommy cellulite thighs and discolored skin spots, next to my beautiful daughter's smooth rosy cheeks, and my robot alert sensors go off, "More of Anna! Less of Ellen! Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"
Ironic, because I used to be such a goofy camera queen. If there was a camera out, baby, I was in that shot... doing The Robot, acting like a baton-wielding Olympic ice skater, licking my friend's face, what-have-you. My final photography project in art school was black and white self-portraiture. That's right-- like fifty close-up photos of me, being artsy-fartsy by myself in my apartment. Horrifying. Seriously, I could not handle looking at myself that much, today. I guess I have officially changed.
[artsy-fartsy college photo]
And that's probably more of the issue than the actual wrinkles and gray hairs. I don't mind those things too much. I have all sorts of brave plans to grow old naturally (with the exception of my premature gray hair. I started going gray in high school, just like my mom. I call "UNFAIR" on that one. I've decided that I will "go gray" when Jason finally does.) It's more that I look at myself in those photos, or catch a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I wonder who that person is. She is starting-- just barely, mind you-- to look like someone I don't know. Which then leads me to start asking tough questions, like... "Under these burgeoning wrinkles, is there inner beauty?" "Do I like who this woman has become?" "Is it okay that this woman has not ended up where she thought she'd be at 35?" "Is there still time for this woman to accomplish some of her dreams?" "Were those dreams hollow and empty to begin with?" "What does God want for her life to look like?" "Would people recognize her from the hopeful, quirky girl she was fifteen years ago?" "How does she embrace what's grown better with years, but still retrieve the good things that she lost?" "Is that even possible?" I don't know the answers to these questions, and sometimes it scares me.
Hmmmm. Perhaps this post didn't end up being so shallow after all.
(I will add that, thankfully, Jason still thinks I'm hot and calls me his "good-lookin' wench.")