For the most part, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. I realized about ten years ago that agonizing over wrinkles and cellulite and stretch marks is a giant waste of time. My friends are beautiful women, and all of us are marked by the passing years. I hated the thought of them sitting around feeling fat or ugly.
And then I decided to extend the same grace to myself. It was life-changing.
But now that I’ve rounded the corner to my late-late, very-late, advanced thirties, some issues have crept out of a dark hole and grabbed me by the ears. Issues such as:
#1. I need a ridiculously small amount of food each day. I should eat half of what I did fifteen years ago, but my appetite hasn’t gotten the news yet. Consider this scene, which repeats itself in my kitchen hourly:
My Metabolism: “Oh, dear. Is it time to eat again? I’ll have a thimble of unsweetened tea and a dry crust of bread, thanks. That’s all I have room for today.”
My Appetite: “What’s wrong with you, you weirdo? I’ll have 29 cookies, a keg of Pepsi, and a side of Cheetos.”
My Metabolism: “Oh, dear. Ohhhhh, dearie dear.”
My Pants: “Egads! Someone find the elastic waisted trousers we keep in the back of the closet! This is never going to work.”
#2: I need a ridiculously large amount of makeup to look natural. And by natural, I mean alive. Seriously. If you show up at my door right now you’ll find me with zero makeup. You will automatically reach out a hand to steady me and you’ll worry I have some deadly disease. Because I look like a corpse.
#3. No matter how much work I put into myself now, the best I can hope for is “She looks pretty good…for her age.” If I launched a full-scale renovation project on myself today, it’s not going to make much difference. I could lose twenty pounds, tone up all the muscles, and employ a team of plastic surgeons. Twenty years ago I could have been a glamour queen. But now I would only look like a pathetic woman who is trying to reverse time– and losing.
These ideas have been poking at my subconscious for a few weeks now, and at first they were uncomfortable. I found myself in the polyester section of Sears last week, mentally calculating how long I had before I owned shiny pants and tent-sized sweatshirts with pictures of my grandchildren on them.
And then I snapped out of it. I know plenty, and I mean lots and lots, of women older than me and they’re amazing. They’re kind and fun and prayerful. They think a lot and work hard and I am blessed to know them. Aging gracefully has nothing to do with fooling people into thinking I’m still twenty.
But I think it has a lot to do with getting over myself, caring for the people around me, and enjoying the life God has given.
(Although I admit I’m still quite concerned with Ms. Appetite and her relentless demand for cookies. That’s a real problem.)
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. (Proverbs 31:30)