Riddle me this. Is it possible love ourselves wholly while hiding?
With the trending no make-up thing that many celebrities have publicly applauded and report to be going along with, I find myself inspired to do a personal check-in. This will come as no surprise to those who are connected with me and know that I tend to find myself in some type of public contemplative self-inquiry about beauty and aging every January/February. Whether it's the blatant reminder handed us by the calendar or the new lines I keep discovering, both remark on the same thing: time is passing, and my face, as much of my body, tells the story whether I'm down for it or not.
No one has been as surprised as me that I have not turned out to be that “777-9311-Planet- Rock-old-chick” who'd gracefully bare it all - the grey hair, "concealer-less" eyes, and extra pounds gifted by peri-menopause - without much ado. Yet, I have treated my foray into the forties like a WWE Smackdown - wrestling with it all every step of the way. Not exactly the aging, but allowing it to be unapologetically public.
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One could argue that it's the seemingly bottomless technological age we find ourselves in, where there's a digital app to essentially remix and share anything globally on the instant, that motivates us to be so image-conscious and ultimately unaccepting of ourselves. Our attractiveness, intelligence, skills, talents and most everything being unmercifully compared to highly curated online personas.
The demand, especially in the entertainment industry, is that we (particularly women) dare not appear aged beyond the mid-thirties and that's being generous. Yet the facts are that our reality-show dominated television culture has motivated most of us to think more than ever before about how we look.
I have more than a couple of real friends - all naturally stunning - who've had some kind of cosmetic tweak just in the last year. I get it. We want to like what we see when we look in the mirror. More importantly, we want to "feel" good, or on par with all the other women we look at and deem attractive or recognize is celebrated as attractive.
The irony for me is discovering that my own over-hyped self-consciousness, and consequently low-grade self-rejection, has had nothing to do with trying to keep up with Kim Kardashian or those celebrated for looks in the media. Instead it has everything to do with trying to keep up with me - those former, matchless versions of myself along with a sometimes ageless woman who shows up in my "tweaked" pics that is not entirely the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. Lighting and Instagram filters work magic.
How, I've been wondering, do I stop treating the aging me like a mistress who is only “loved” behind closed doors and with great effort hidden from the public? Would any of us willingly allow another to shame us in this way? I am no longer interested nor in possession of the stamina to tolerate this kind of second-rate love - even from myself.
It is an eye-opener to recognize how slippery is the trail that emerges even from tweak #1 - whether that nip and tuck involves cosmetic instruments or the various apps, filters, lights and other goodies at our disposal.
The question remains where will I draw the line; where will any of us draw the line? For every tweak we initiate or allow is a way of sending the message to ourselves that we are not enough, okay, acceptable as we are.
That negative messaging robs us of too much. There can be no genuine self-care where radical self-acceptance is absent.