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growing up ugly

I don’t know if I have talked about this before but I have a very hard time recognizing faces and remembering names.  The weird thing is that once I get it, I have that information for life.  I have recognized friends I haven’t seen in twenty years without problem but the woman at my eye doctor’s office is a mystery when I run into her at the store (I have seen her 4-5 times a year for the last 8 years).

Because of this, I love to look at celebrity photos.  It’s like a game of Memory for me.  I love all those photo articles – who’s dating who, who grew up to be a drug addict, etc.  I read them all with glee.  Well, reading is not what I really do, I look at the pictures.  I delight when I can figure them out and actually remember anything they have done.

So, it was not unusual behavior when, last week, I clicked on the article about child stars who grew up ugly.  At first, I was like “oh, look at him” (because the kids were cute) and puzzling to why they were ugly when the grown up picture appeared to being outright angry.

Most of the child stars depicted were men.  They were all very cute and fairly young child actors.  Not one of them would be a man I would call ugly.  Maybe I have a different view of beauty but to me, they were just older.  Yes, some had put on weight.  Some got wrinkles.  I hate to point out that many of those child actors were children in the 80’s and 90’s – they aren’t young anymore.  But they were far from ugly.

By the time I had finished the article, I knew one thing – the author had a problem with aging.  I don’t know anything about the author.  I can’t even say there was a name attached to the article.  So I don’t know them but I knew by the end, that they have low self-esteem.  And I was sad for them but really angry that I was pulled into this trap of self loathing.

We all age – it’s a fact.  Some try to defy that aging by a variety of means.  I don’t fault them but it does make me sad for them.  Natural, healthy means that keep aging away are something even I subscribe to.  I moisturize which keeps my skin healthy.  Healthy skin looks younger.  I try to eat right and exercise.  But that doesn’t keep me from aging.

I refuse to have plastic surgery, well any surgery, that is not to correct a health problem.  I don’t see any reason to put my healthy body through a procedure that could kill me just to pretend I am younger.  I won’t do botox.  I barely dye my hair (my hair dying had to do with wanting to do something fun with my hair vs covering up my grey).

I like that I am getting older.  I want to be the old woman who wears contrasting colors without a care in the world.  I want to earn my grey hairs and wrinkles.  I want to look like I have wisdom.  I want to be a fairy grandmother.  I want to bake cookies and travel through elderhostel.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

I am fortunate enough to work in a place that doesn’t really care if you are in the same job for ages (my co-worker has been in his job since the 80’s).  I have no worries that I will be replaced by someone younger.  I have no fear my husband will leave me for a younger woman (we just finished raising a teenager, neither one of us wants to raise another for any reason).

I wouldn’t go back to being young for anything.  I may miss the things my younger body could do but I don’t miss that constant uncomfortable feeling that came with being young.  I may have been more brave (can’t say for sure) but I know that I was constantly aware of myself.  And not in a good way.  I rarely relaxed.  I rarely felt beautiful.  I hated my body, even when I was sure I loved it.  I tortured myself with the hope that someone would love me because I haven’t learned to love myself.

So to all those who are growing up ugly – I say blah, there is no such thing.  We age.  We get soft.  We get brittle.  We get wrinkly.  We get grey.  But so much more comes with that – we find true love in ourselves and others because we stopped paying so much attention to what’s on the outside (or at least I hope you do).  We find peace.  We have wisdom.  Because that’s so much more important than holding on to the beauty of youth.

Last night someone said I had been a really cute kid.  My reply “that’s how I survived my childhood.”  Had I not been cute, my mom might have killed me because I was a tough child.  My son was the same way.  It made me realize, I don’t have to be cute anymore.  I have earned the right to shed the soft down of childhood and grow my adult feathers.  I connect with others through my intellect and my wit.  I connect instead of charm.

As I type this, I realize that there are so many more important things than worrying about being cute.  And I am so glad that I have been blessed with the wisdom to spend my time worrying about other things like the zombie apocalypse.  It’s a good thing I’ve given up heels, perhaps it’s time I took up running as well.  I’m thinking that being able to outrun the others would be a good thing.  I wonder if I will recognize my neighbors when they become zombies.

Oh well, I don’t recognize them now.