I used to think I would be one of those people who aged gracefully. I had always looked somewhat young for my age, and I figured by the time I reached my mid-40s, I’d be that kind of cool hippie mom who let her hair go grey because – dammit – it looked good grey. I never thought I’d weep over thinning hair or fantasize about things like botox or lip injections or eye lifts. But here we are.
I spend a ridiculous amount of time pulling at my face. I do this thing where I slide my fingertips firmly down my forehead, hoping that by sheer will I’ll be able to smooth out the deep lines that have taken up permanent residence on my face. It doesn’t work. And I wipe my upper lip wishing I could wax away the fine lines that look like a perma-stache.
I didn’t always hate my face. There was a time when I didn’t shudder when I looked in the mirror. And back in the day, I actually posed for photos instead of pulling my hoodie over my head.
I still feel pretty comfortable and content in my body. Having recovered from an eating disorder 20 years ago and dealing with disordered eating for a good 10 years after that, believe me when I say that this is no small feat. Yet, despite my general contentment in my physical appearance, social media is doing its best to destroy my feel-good vibe.
Why doesn’t she have jowls like I do? Why do her eyes look bright and fresh? For the love of god, where are the 11s on her forehead?
For a long time, I thought that what I saw when I scrolled through Instagram was the real deal. I had no idea you could Photoshop a thigh gap or filter away the giant-ass bags under your eyes. I literally learned last year that my iPhone has a “portrait” feature that adjusts the lighting for selfies. Mind. Blown.
I used to think that celebs were the only ones who got boob jobs and made regular appointments with their “dermatologist” for microdermabrasion and Botox. Now, Debra down the street has been getting fillers for five years and Lisa from accounting has her crow’s feet stamped out with the help of a needle and McKenzie on IG has injections to thank for those pouty lips that get her sponsored posts for lip gloss. Who knew?
Meanwhile, I’ve been wondering why my lips look like they are eating themselves and you could map a route across the country on my forehead. And RBF? Puh-lease. More like Resting Angry-Ass Hag Face.
Lately it seems like everyone is getting fillers or injections or treatments. Whether it’s injections of unicorn tears or the skin cream made with the feathers of a phoenix or bathing in the literal fountain of youth, people are doing it. And they look ah-mazing. While I’m over here looking like that crazy cat lady people whisper about. And I don’t even have cats.
Look, this isn’t a judgment on anyone who spends hours slathering on face cream or hundreds of dollars on fillers. I like that journey for you. Really.
I mean, personally I don’t have the time, patience, or budget for much more than some hair dye and eyeliner. But other than that, I’m about as half-ass with my beauty regime as a person could be. I’m probably not even a half-ass, more like a quarter-ass. But I digress…
In any event, all those filters and injections and who-knows-what-else — because I literally cannot keep up — make it really freaking hard to stick to that whole “aging gracefully” thing. It makes it damn near impossible sometimes to be comfortable with your au natural-ish approach to beauty. I spend so much time giving myself internal pep talks that, at this point, I’m rolling my eyes at myself.
The thing is, it isn’t just social media to blame. Like most of us in the pandemic age, I spend an extraordinary amount of time on video calls through Teams and Zoom and Skype, which are basically designed to make us look even older and more tired than we already are. That little box with my own face in it is so damn distracting. Who is that grouchy looking person who looks like she hasn’t seen the sun in 10 years? Oh, shit, that’s me. Let’s just say, it’s pretty damn hard to focus on strategic messaging discussions when all you can think about is how noticeable your greys are and wondering if you always look this pissed off. (Spoiler alert: I do. And it’s not because I’m actually pissed. That’s just what my face does now.)
So here we are. Surrounded by people who are dropping hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to look “fresh” and “doe-eyed” without looking like they are actually trying to look fresh and doe-eyed and flippantly commenting about “good genes” and offering to share their 3-step skin care routine. Spoiler alert: It’s never three steps. And even if it were, that’s three steps more than I feel like doing at end of a long-ass day of staring at my haggard-looking face in a tiny box on a computer screen and trying to focus on thing like process improvement when all I can think about is how I can make my jowls less saggy and my RBF a little more badass and a little less bitter.
Look, we all deserve to do whatever it takes to feel good about ourselves. And ultimately, I do feel good about myself. Well, good enough anyway. And that’s what matters, right? Maybe eventually I’ll get to that IDGAF stage of aging gracefully. I just wish I could look a little less haggard along the way.