I just got sucked into taking another internet quiz. From past quizzes, I have learned that I should live in Cape Town, I would have been Carrie Bradshaw if I were a Sex and the City character, and I would have been St. Thomas if I were one of Jesus’ disciples (which is pleasingly coincidental because I would live on St. Thomas if I were to live on an island.)
Today’s test says my “real age” is 38. I do not even know what that means. I realized recently, upon seeing a magazine cover featuring a 60 year old Christie Brinkley, that I don’t even really know what I am supposed to look like at 45. Because if I am supposed to look like her, even at 45, I am failing miserably.
Where are our statistical averages from which we measure our standard deviations? It’s impossible to know if I look great for 45 (2 standard deviations above the Walmart set) or not so great for 45 (3 standard deviations below Jennifer Aniston.)
The media would have us believe (and by “us” I mean unconfident women and all men) that at 45, women should still have flat tummies, tight booties, and boobs that say “helloooo!” Aisle 6 at the dollar store, however, has us believing that at 45, it is quite acceptable to squeeze 275 lbs. into pajama pants and forego a bra or face wash.
So whom do I believe? And does it matter?
Every woman wants to look beautiful. The problem with this is, what is beautiful? Whose definition do we follow? What is beautiful to one person is almost never what is beautiful to another. We have a whole generation of “beautiful” celebrities that look frighteningly similar. Is this because a plastic surgeon or two decided what “beautiful” should be? My husband once told me he thinks I am beautiful without makeup. I’m not sure if that was to get me to hurry up and get in the car, or this was truly how he defines beautiful, but I’ll take it, either way.
I would love to be so free of vanity that I truly felt that outer appearance didn’t matter, and that I was beautiful on the inside and that was all that mattered. That’s what my mom used to tell me when I was 12 and covered in acne. I’m sure I “had a great personality,” too. I know what makes a beautiful soul – the fruits of the spirit and all that. But the truth is, I do care what I look like. We all do. The beauty and cosmetics and diet industry wouldn’t be making billions of dollars in revenue if we all were happy with our great personalities.
I might not know what I’m supposed to look like at 45, as compared to all other 45 year old women (plastic-surguried models excluded), but here is what I have learned. Clean is good, so wash twice. Hair color is great, but like boxed wine, only in moderation. I will never be able to afford surgery, so I will never be perky or tight, not anywhere, ever. Eating better, exercising more, and squeezing the rest into shape wear is good enough. And good enough is just that, good enough. I won’t win any beauty contests, but if I look good enough to not think about about looking bad, that will do.