Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Show Your Age

I was watching YouTube the other day and a commercial (that didn't give me the "skip" option) came on for a skin care product in which Gwen Stefani was the spokesperson. She claimed that this product would make you look "years younger." First of all, Gwen, you haven't aged since like 1995 and I'm pretty sure it wasn't because you used L'Oreal moisturizer. And second of all... why is this a thing? What is this obsession we have with youth? What did youth ever do for us anyway? Give us pimples? Make us feel awkward because we didn't know how to talk to the opposite sex? Give us anxiety over needing a job to get experience but not having enough experience to get a job?! All of my worst moments took place when I was younger than I am now (because that's how time works). When I was less experienced. When I had less confidence and less knowledge. I wouldn't want to go back to my mental state as a fresh faced 18 year old (or even 21 year old if we're being honest), so why should I be expected to still look like those ages? Why can't our outsides match our insides? I'm in a different stage of life now than I was then and you can see it in my face and my body. And that's okay. That's how life works.

I understand that we all want to look younger because that is what is valued in our culture. But what I don't understand is WHY. Intellectually, for the most part, we all want to be mature. We want to be established in our careers and valued in our relationships and stable enough to at least act like the adults we know that we are, even if sometimes we feel like imposters (or is that just me?). So why can't the maturity that we work so hard to gain on the inside be reflected on our bodies on the outside? Why can't we value laugh lines and stretchmarks and scars as proof of a life well lived? Of things we survived. Of lessons we learned.

I'll be the first to admit that getting old terrifies me. But would it still be so scary if the world around us didn't tell us it's so bad? The actual physical process of aging is often not fun, anyway. No one wants hangovers that last days instead of hours, and heartburn after eating things you didn't even have to think twice about consuming as a kid. And the older we get the more our bodies break down. And it sucks. But it's life. As a 20 something I'm still young and therefore don't have the experience that people twice and three times my age have. But I can only imagine how much harder the process of aging is, not just physically, but mentally when everything around you is telling you that you're less valuable, less beautiful, just less in general, simply because you've lived to see your current age.

I truly value the wisdom and beauty (both inside and out) of the older people, specifically women, in my life and it hurts me to think any one of them believes they hold less value in our society because their age is reflected in their outward appearance. It's absolutely preposterous. Something has got to change. And it has to start within each of us. Recognize your value. Look for beauty in the physical and spiritual parts of yourself that you once hated or were told are things to be hidden, not appreciated. Because until we stop buying into the bullshit and allowing it to change our opinions of ourselves we will all continue to perpetuate the lies.

Love your age, love your self.

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