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Reflections April 2016

The Old Gal

It’s All Good Because It’s All Me

By Anne Ashley

It’s not that I don’t take pride in my appearance, because I do. It’s just that I don’t buy into the mentality that you must attend to your looks like you’re climbing Mt. Everest daily or you’ll end up looking like you’re over 21. It’s OK to look older than 21.

I can’t recall the last time I wore matching socks. Equally distant is the memory of the last time I cared whether I was wearing matching socks. I don’t shave my legs unless I'm wearing a dress or skirt and I don’t wear a dress or skirt unless it’s a special occasion … a very very special occasion. I don’t wear perfume (see previous comment concerning special occasions) and I haven’t shopped for a bra since I was on vacation and found a supplier who caters to non-augmented busts.

Seriously, the last time I nipped into a local department store to grab a few undergarments, I was accosted by an employee who insisted I undergo what felt more like a TSA frisking than a mere bra fitting before she’d allow me to choose from the display. I haven’t had to slap an intrusive hand away that much since my dating days! Anyway, all of this should give you a pretty good idea of how depleted my supply of beauty products and trendy clothing is.

It’s not that I don’t take pride in my appearance, because I do. It’s just that I don’t buy into the mentality that you must attend to your looks like you’re climbing Mt. Everest daily or you’ll end up looking like you’re over 21. It’s OK to look older than 21.

I mention this because every advertisement on television or in-store promotion takes for granted that all women strive to look younger, better, something other than what we look like now, in real life. We are offered clothes to hide this or that, creams to soften that or this, balcony bras that perform the impossible, Spanx that brutally compress fat into curves, and jeans meant to disguise your true shape by being so form-fitting that you can tell if the wearer has shaved her legs (or not).

And, somewhat unrelated but definitely as common, is this modern craze for hand sanitizers! Did I miss an epidemic or something? While shopping for candles –  CANDLES! –  I was offered a free pump-bottle with container that fastens to my belt loop or purse strap (the shop assistant unashamedly referred to it as a holster), lest I find I’m in immediate need of disinfecting myself from invisible germs. I wanted to inform the gullible assistant that I'm the product of a youth spent drinking from public water fountains, swimming in irrigation floods and sharing toothbrushes. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! I declined the free holster/sanitizer and settled on the candle.

Anyway, does no one appreciate that perhaps looking ordinary is pretty damned good? Does no one value the natural, satisfied look anymore?

Just recently, while browsing the cosmetic shelves, bloated with magic potions and rejuvenating balms, I was confronted by a nubile teenager, offering to share the latest miracle crème guaranteed to revive my obviously flagging appearance (I say obviously flagging because Miss Nubile ignored the 20-something shopping beside me and only offered the elixir of youth to me). To her utter astonishment I rejected her offer to smear the new and improved goop onto the back of my hand “to see the miracle it would perform on my face.” Clearly it had never occurred to her that some of us flaggers are happy to age beyond adolescence.

I should confess that although I don’t use any of these “wonder-products,” I am hugely entertained by the condescending claims on the packaging. I have a good chuckle at the boasts and promises made and the eccentric and misleading names given to the ingredients to obscure what I'm assured in translation means Vaseline! Incidentally, I do the same thing in the romance section of a bookstore...

I may be in the lower percentile of women who admit this out loud but I don’t want to look younger. I want to look lived in. I earned my appearance. I survived the ups and downs of my youth (least of which was drinking swamp water and sharing toothbrushes). I'm content to stay alive, one day at a time without the help of artificial enhancers or punishing beauty routines (and clothing). I want all 20-somethings to know that there are women on the planet who don’t want their faces rejuvenated or their skin plumped or their breasts lifted by the latest wonder bra in order to look younger. I want them to know that there are women who consider an expanding stomach an acceptable bust lifter, and ordinary lotion without the diamond crystals or specks of gold a good enough beauty routine to get us through the day. What didn’t kill me, gave me laugh lines!    

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

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