Friday, February 10, 2012

The Face of Beauty

Bertha Myrtle Rule as a young woman

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I stole that quotation from August McLaughlin and her Beauty of a Woman Blogfest.  She celebrates the beauty in all of us with each post, but for the blogfest she asked others to join.  While I was too late to enter the blogfest, it did send me back a couple of years to resurrect a piece on aging I wrote and promptly filed away.  So today I join others in honoring beauty in all its forms.

I’ll also try to hold Emerson’s words tight as I head back to the gym to lose the weight I’ve gained during this five-year roadblock of pain.  When I see myself in the mirrors by the free weights, I will look not at my chicken wings flapping in the breeze, but I’ll use my X-ray vision to see the beautiful triceps and biceps still hiding under there – waiting to come to the surface again. 


“You have a fit face.  I wouldn’t do anything to it yet,” a plastic surgeon told my older sister.  She and the other nurses at her hospital are always asking the plastic surgeons about different procedures.  At an online news site I read this week about a 50-something woman who had an expansive list of surgeries in order to look more like her daughter.

Yesterday I looked in the mirror and for the first time noticed some newly formed canyons settling into my forehead.  My options for erasing these are limited because just about everything I could plaster over them to “cure” aging would make my face break out in hives that will radiate all the way down to my stomach.  But I look again in the mirror and wonder why would I want to change anything.  For every plastic surgery procedure I could have, I would look less and less like all of those people I love and who made me what I am.  I will never be tall, thin, and with sharply defined features.

I am my Grandma.  We have a photo of her sitting on the porch railing of the house of a family she worked for most of her young life.  Her father sent her there in her early teens because they had no money and her mother was mentally ill.  This family took her in, sent her through high school, dressed her in the beautiful white summer dress she wore in the photo, treated her like family.  And when I look at my 18-year old Grandma sitting on that porch on a summer afternoon, I see myself.  And I see my sisters, all of us when we were 18.  And I still see Grandma when I sit at the table for a family celebration.

Our faces are too round, and our noses are too snub.  We got her thighs instead of my mom’s long, thin legs.  But we also got her fair, smooth skin.  I know that when I’m 96 my mind will be sharp and my eyes clear.  I will be a little too hard on those I care about the most, but I will also have the spirit to thrive up to the end.  I’ll probably be even shorter than I am now, shrinking a smidgen each year like she did.

No, I don’t think I’ll fight aging.  Other than trying to take care of my health, adding a little hair color, and using an SPF 30 daytime moisturizer and a gentle night cream, I think I’ll just let nature take its course.  I like looking in the mirror and seeing all the people I’ve loved.

What is beauty? What does it mean to you? When do you feel beautiful? Share your own stories on the beauty of a woman then head over to August’s website to read the fabulous entries.

And while we're on the subject of beauty, visit this post from April 2010 about an unexpected moment of beauty that interrupted a normally chaotic day.
bells and beauty1


Carrie Daws said...

Beautiful post, Julie!

Lee I said...

I agree with Carrie. It's full of love.

Pencildancers said...

Awesome! You rock! I agree with you 100% Bring on the faces of my heritage please. I'd rather not look like a new model.

brenda said...

For me beauty is within - but I am vain and make an effort with myself (makeup, etc), but really I feel the best inside and out when I stick to my walking workout schedule. It's mental but knowing I logged miles in the hood, makes me feel wonderful inside and out!. And you are right.. if you change what you look like.. all your character will be lost.

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks for the blog love. And Brenda, taking care with your appearance I don't think is vain. I guess it's more how a person lets that act of dressing up defines their life.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this very much! A couple of years ago, a photographer took a photo of my sister, sisters-in-law and female cousins during our annual 'soul sisters' weekend. When it arrived in the mail, the first think my husband said was 'Photoshop'. I was indignant. It took almost a year for me to realize he was the right! The photographer has photoshopped out almost all our wrinkles (we are all in our late 40's). Funny I didn't see it right away! Anyhooo, I'm with you... a few highlights, SPF, and a touch of make up... good to go - and I hope it stays that way!

Tina L. Hook said...

What a beautiful photo. I also came across The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest today and was sad that I missed it.

This line will stick with me. "I like looking in the mirror and seeing all the people I’ve loved." Well said.

Stopping by from SheWrites today. Off to follow you on twitter and goodreads.

monicastangledweb said...

What a beautiful photo of your grandmother. She looks serene and I love her outfit. Harkens back to another, perhaps quieter time. Thanks for sharing!

Scrollwork said...

The other day, while teaching a sensual dance class (the Bachata), my co-teacher and I had an impromptu conversation on our individual concepts of aesthetic perfection. She has a luscious figure and a doll face framed with a tumble of blond curls. I am rather stick-figured, and slightly on the nerdy side with my glasses. She remarked that I am half her width, and I countered that she is scrumptious. And then we were both a little giddy, feeling that we had each given and received a compliment. Our (adult) students were grinning at this exchange.

When you spend hours moving in front of full-length mirrors as we dancers do, our physical form becomes more than something to compare to magazine covers. It's our tool, the instrument of our livelihood. Movement is how we ultimately judge it. I worry about spraining an ankle or injuring my knee, but I have yet to think about the onset of wrinkles or the lack of cleavage. Dance has helped me make peace with the appearance aspect of aging.

Julie Farrar said...

Scrollwork, you make a great point. When we judge our bodies by what they can do rather than how they look we reach completely different conclusions. While I want to lose the weight I had put on during these past years of my neck and arm problems, I never stopped moving and I could still climb a mountain last summer. That makes me feel better than having a great chin line.

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