I was just reading a news article and one of the recommended articles on the side of the page was titled, “Fix Creepy Skin.” The picture of creepy skin that they showed was someone’s knee. The person’s leg was straightened so the skin was a little scrunched up, as skin tends to get around the knee when the leg is straightened. Shudder. Creepy.
Are you freaking kidding me?
And yesterday I was innocently scrolling through my news feed on Facebook when a video started playing of all these women in front of mirrors. They were oohing and aahing over how incredible their skin looked with some new product they were putting on themselves. I’m a little “whatev, yo” about so-called beauty care products, but what frustrated me about the little video was that the women were all smoothing their skin away from their eyes. I guess because smile lines aren’t youthful enough.
And there are practically countless other examples in magazines, newspapers, television, and on our internet capable devices that tell us we aren’t (fill in the blank) enough. Pretty, young, firm, sexy. Whatever. You don’t have to look hard to see why you’re not enough.
And it angers me. Almost irrationally. Except it’s not irrational because the idea that you’re not enough is ludicrous.
Ok, now. Deep breath….calm down…take it back…
I remember very clearly one day I was walking to the garden with my grandmother. She was a beautiful woman who bore 9 children and adopted three more. She lived in the same house with me and I saw her every day, learning so many things about life and love and loving life. That day, though, while we were walking and holding hands, I commented about how I wanted hands that were brown like hers. Grandma Kral was white, but spent many hours in the gardens or mowing the lawns. The skin on her hands was golden brown with dark freckles. I remember sitting on her lap and caressing her hands, marveling at how beautiful they were. But now, while I held her lovely, strong, golden hands with my plump, white fingers, she stopped walking. Grandma looked down at me and said, half laughing, “Oh, you don’t want old hands like mine. They’re shriveled like raisins in the sun.” And we kept walking.
It wasn’t too much further to the garden, but I stared at our very different hands the whole way. Grandma was in her 60s. I was still single digits. Thinking back the freckles were probably liver sports. I didn’t think her hands were shriveled at all. They certainly weren’t like raisins in my mind. I considered her comments, and then…dismissed them. I still wanted to have beautiful hands like hers.
And I still do. None of the women I’ve looked at and thought how beautiful and incredible they were are perfect. But the smile in Grandma Foote’s eyes is one that I’m proud shines in mine too. My hands aren’t as sun kissed as Grandma Kral’s, but I’m not 60 yet either! My shoulders have a gentle slope like my mother’s. I have laugh lines and scars. They were and are beautiful. And I am beautiful too!
And yes, when I straighten my knees the skin that tightens when they’re bent, loosens. AND IS NOT CREEPY.
I watch my kids grow under these pressures to be something they don’t see in themselves right now. It’s a pressure that’s likely always been there. Even Grandma wanted to have younger skin, apparently. But sometimes I just want to scream at the world to leave my body alone!!!! It’s a great body. It’s not perfect. I’m not always nice to it. But I really do love it and all that it lets me do!
I want to grow older. I just turned 38 and the number rings beautifully in my ear. I don’t feel like holding onto 29, which by the way was an exhausting year. I want to love the skin I’m in, the body it’s holding together, and the spirit I possess right up until my numbers end. I want my children to feel free to be – little, big, short, tall, lanky, hefty, muscular, scrawny – or anything in between. I don’t want them to feel those pressures of the world. I really don’t want them to internalize them. But, alas, none of that is up to me. So, I’ll just love them and love me and set the best example I can. I’ll ignore (mostly) commercials and articles that want me to feel like less.
I’ll express my gratitude at growing older. I’ll express my love of aging. I’ll continue to point out beauty any and everywhere! And occasionally I’ll scream in my head, “Leave MY body alone!” I mean, no one can stick to their goals all the time.
But, yeah, seriously. Leave my body alone.