31 days to 50.
Last weekend when we were hiking back from the Bridge to Nowhere I asked my photographer friend to take a shot of me in a yoga pose so that I could use it for a header for my soon to be launched yoga website (since I am now a yoga teacher). My photographer friend and I have been on several exotic trips together, he’s at once incredibly supportive of my photography and also extremely critical.
He called me into his office today to see the shot he’s pieced together and used a fair amount of filters on and said, “What do you want to do about your neck?”
I thought, “Wow, what’s wrong with my neck?” I didn’t have my glasses on (it took me years to admit that I really needed readers) so I told him to leave my neck alone, that I didn’t want to be overly Photoshopped. I couldn’t wait to get home and open the file so I could zoom all the way in to see just exactly what is wrong with my neck. As I was leaving his office he started pushing my neck to the back of my skull with the liquefy tool (aka googly eyes tool) much to the delight of the gaggle of co-workers standing around his desk.
He made the photo into an illustration and it looks like he did some retouching. I do appreciate the fact that he spent time on this and that he is helping me but really, what is wrong with my neck? No, my neck doesn’t look like I’m a 16 year old girl in Glamour magazine. I see that my eyelids are also creeping dangerously down over my eyes. The thing is, I don’t actually see these changes in myself. Am I deluding myself? Do I need to realize that my neck is sagging? When I catch a glimpse of the skin under my neck I tend to stick my chin out so that it looks smoother to myself in the mirror.
I saw the HBO movie about Liberace last weekend. There were multiple scenes about plastic surgery. Scary scenes. I’ve always maintained that once a person starts with plastic surgery how do they know when to stop? If you think one little surgery will change your life why not just keep going? It happens all the time. I don’t want to be that vain. I don’t want my entire self image based on how I compare to the unrealistic images of women in our media. It is well documented that NONE of the images of women in our media are real. They are all retouched. Thin out the arms, lift the chin, remove the blemishes. We all compare ourselves to a standard that is a lie.
The problem is, no matter how much time I spend at the gym I can’t stop the clock. My neck will sag. My eyelids will droop more and more every year. My belly button may look like a frown for the rest of my life. Does that mean that I am dried up? Should I be put out to pasture? If I look to the media for guidance on this the answer would absolutely be YES.
But I don’t think so. I think that there are plenty of people in the world who will see the ME in me. Not just the outer shell. My challenge is and has always been to be OK with that outer shell. It is a struggle I work through every day.
I hope there will come a day when I can look in the mirror and not stick out my chin to smooth my neck. A day when I can see every part of me, the parts that are aging and the parts that have never been perfect and be content. I hope. I can. I will.