Friday, July 19, 2019 -
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A wrinkle in time

As the years are passing I am surrounded more and more by the cultural resistance to looking older that we women are steeped in. And don’t get me wrong, I am the first to appreciate natural measures, such as lotions or the treat of an occasional facial, that can soften and take care of my skin. But I have been thinking this for a while now . . . so far, I actually like my little wrinkles. Yes, I do.

At first I did not smile upon first noticing the wrinkles –– or should I say, unwelcome wrinkles. But then I grew comfortable with them.

Our faces tell a story.

My face tells the story of my life. And every turn, even every detour, is a part of it.

My face makes me who I am, in the sense that I am different than anyone else in the world because of it. It is with my face that I encounter others.

Now, I am no saint, and, trust me, I don’t want to age before my time, or look older than my chronological age. You are probably thinking — “talk to me in a decade, and let’s see how you feel about those wrinkles then.’”

But seriously, our society’s approach to wrinkles and getting older has made me uncomfortable for some time now.

Why, as women, is it our goal to look young?

Why shouldn’t our goal be to accept ourselves, embrace ourselves, to try and look good, not necessarily young? To cultivate an appreciation for our evolving femininity? To accept that our lines and creases are our story, are our world?

Our faces are a composite expression of the experiences we have lived.

Our face, with its contours, creases and depressions, is the most raw, honest expression of who we are. Of where we have travelled. Of how we have grown. Of how we have carried ourselves. Why should we put a smokescreen between that kind of authenticity, beauty and expression?

The different seasons of our lives have different faces. Literally. We should learn to have an understanding with our most intimate, individual imprint and expression of who we are — our face.

Through life’s wrinkles we can grow into our faces. Think about it. The only true way not to grow old is by dying young. So why resist the expression of the greatest blessing of all — life.

Of course, seeing ourselves age preys upon the natural human anxiety of how far along we are on life’s journey. But I say, let’s work on looking ourselves in the eye, in the mirror, and returning to ourselves a smile.

Aging is hard. Of course you sometimes wish your face did not reveal every twist and turn of your life. Some moments have been wonderful, others less so. It would be nice to erase the physical hieroglyphics of certain emotional life events that are etched in our faces, but this is who we are. These experiences literally molded us.

All these wrinkles add up to the life we have lived, to who we are and where we have been. The sorrows, the joys, the surprises, the compassion, the struggles, the trials, the hard work, the study, the laughter, the calm, the pain, the passion, the confusion, the inquisitiveness, the faith, the doubts, the mistakes, the disappointment, the skepticism, the weeping, the love . . .

Our faces are a living, animated map of the paths we have traveled and worn. Why erase the evidence? For what? A blank face without the mesh of our history, texture or emotion?

As we know, behind every line, behind every groove on our face, lies a story deep inside.

Our faces depict our path, and are a physical manifestation of the emotions we experience or show. Fear of aging is natural, but remember, with age come gifts that when we looked smooth and fresh, were not ours yet.

There is a loveliness and lushness to youth. But, there is a loveliness, depth, stature and beauty to age. The two are just different, that’s all. The wisdom, maturity, seriousness, ability to listen, contentment, confidence and grace, which come with the passing years, bring us into a new level of our feminine power and qualities. Also there is that balance of aging, teaching and guiding us when not to take ourselves too seriously, that makes us lighter and freer, more emotionally liberated.

Altering how you look, how you were created into something nature did not intend simply as a way of reliving the past or because our society identifies beauty only with youth, truly is a shame. What happened to cherishing the older person? To a wrinkled face conveying the ultimate symbol of sagacity?

Yes, all the lotions and potions and peptides are powerful allies in the fight against face wrinkles that betray true age. But they will never fight what the wrinkles represent — time. Specifically, the passage of time. The holding back of the years. And they will never give you the vitality, calm, luminesence and radiance nurturing yourself to be whole on the inside will.

So seriously, what is the point? I say, let’s practice self acceptance and self love. As hard as it is, let’s shift the aging paradigm of our Western society and learn to bid farewell to one part of ourselves, and welcome and embrace our next silhouette. Let’s accept that youthfulness is a state of mind; that beauty does indeed lie within. The word in Hebrew for “face” and “inside” is one and the same: panim. We should learn to appreciate the lines and creases on our faces for the whole world to see. They are my personal language, my personal calligraphy –– those delicate shapes that make me into who I am becoming.

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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