In a weak moment last night, I found myself watching reality TV. It was an episode of Botched, a show where plastic surgeons perform restorative surgery on a variety of failed boob jobs, nose jobs, tummy tucks, butt implants…you name it. My wife walked by as I was watching and asked, “what’s wrong?” Apparently the pained look on my face communicated more than I was aware of.
“This show,” I said, getting up from the couch to go to bed. It creeped me out and I couldn’t take any more. It did get me wondering though, about my own obsessions with image as I stared at the reflection looking back at me while I brushed my teeth. We have a running joke in the Thomas family that we never met a mirror we didn’t like. Resisting the double take in the floor to ceiling mirrors at 24hour fitness is about as impossible as driving by Voodoo doughnuts without stopping by to sample a bacon maple bar. Inasmuch, I’ve had my own temptations with “modification” as I’ve watched my hairline creep further back on my head. Thankfully, the thoughts have come and gone without action.
The irony in all of this is my parent’s laments are now mine. Aging, as they say for many, is not kind. I also believe aging is harder on women than men, made worse by the fact that women are held to a higher image standard in our culture (In a weak moment, I shared my opinion with an all female executive team I coach. In fairness, it was at the end of a long day of facilitation and after a couple glasses of wine so my filter was down. Let’s just say I didn’t hear the end of it the rest of the night…).
Yet as I contemplate the crows feet at the corners of my eyes, the growing age spot on the side of my forehead, and my worsening eyesight, it occurs to me that I’ve worked hard to earn these hallmarks of age. Each is an emblem that bears a story of its own; each scar to be cherished and each wrinkle to be loved. They are as much a part of me as my own children and I could no more dismiss them with the surgeon’s scalpel as I could excommunicate the ones I love from my life.
Accepting who I am, in totality and without judgment is what I esteem for. Wrinkles and all.