I don’t even care what my decolletage looks like

I’ll never forget reading a Cosmo magazine when I was about 15 years old, and learning how to give a blow job. That’s right. I’d never even seen a real live penis, but that magazine told me to “treat it like an ice cream cone” and that never left me. What also never left me were the images of the women in those magazines, and the feeling that I’d never, ever be like them. They taught me that my legs were too thick and short, my bum too wide, my face not symmetrical enough. They showcased “embarrassing” shots of celebrities on beaches and chastised them for having cellulite… oh god! How awful! Cellulite!? (Also… Why are those magazines at children’s eye level right at checkout counters? Why are we bombarding our little kids with these messages?)

Your butt’s not firm enough! Your legs are the wrong shape! Your brows are the wrong shape! Your lips aren’t plump enough! Your heels are dry! Your skin isn’t light enough! Your teeth aren’t white enough! Your nails aren’t the right shape! You have wrinkles! And grey hairs! And you’re basically just ugly, flawed and less-than.

I remember reading an article in a teen magazine that talked about “dreaded dry elbows” and thought that hadn’t even been something I’d been concerned about until they suddenly admonished “ashy” elbows and knees. Good God, something else to worry about? My brows were too thick in the early 90s, and they’re too thin now. My hair was too thick, too short, too this, too that. Now it’s “aging” and I need special serums to restore its youthful texture? It’s just a pile of dead cells, people. My legs and arms were too hairy, my nose too freckled, my skin never really looked “dewy”.

I used to love big department stores, and I went often with my mom. She uses high-end cosmetics and I loved the way the stores smelled and looked — thick with perfumes, and ladies wearing lots of makeup. I loved the way the salesgirls fawned over my mom, complimenting her gorgeous skin, while selling her products to keep it “youthful and firm”. We tell my mom that her skin is thanks to genetics but she scoffs and hands over hundreds for little jars of magical elixir that’ll keep her eternally youthful.

One year, I cut my hair short to be on trend, only to have long hair be in fashion three months later. I’m always a step behind, but isn’t that what the fashion and beauty industry wants us to feel? Always telling us that this product is the be-all, end-all to all beauty products. That this style of pant will flatter us most. That last season’s fashion is a major don’t.

I’m supposed to want to look rested and young. I am supposed to nourish my hair so it’s strong and shiny. My décolletage is showing the signs of aging, so there’s a special cream formulated especially for it? I didn’t even know what my décolletage was until they started selling me creams to fix it, and I don’t even think I have time to care what it looks like.

It’s my birthday in a few days, and I’m turning 39. Someone said this is the last age I’ll ever turn, which is incredibly morbid, really. I’m not planning to kick the bucket, nor am I ashamed to grow older. I hope I turn 39 just once, and am proud and thankful to be each and every year older. And although I certainly wish I’d appreciated my youthful looks when I had them, I don’t hate my aging self, either. I wear makeup, and I like to feel “pretty”. I like to look put together and wear clothes that both flatter me and feel comfortable. But I’m just so tired of these messages, and tired of seeing everyone rush to fit into these boxes some industry insists we must fit into.

I have deep wrinkles across my forehead, that tell of my exaggerated facial expressions when I’m talking. The laugh lines around my eyes remind me of all the happiness I get to experience. They call them age spots, but that’s ok, I like my freckles anyway. My hair is greying, but those are just natural highlights. My body isn’t what it once was, but then once upon a time I didn’t have two little kids who call me mommy. I might be overweight according to some outdated text book, but that’s not my concern. My only concern is that I keep this body healthy so I can live a long life with my family.

alex at 39I look at photos of myself from just four short years ago and wonder how I’ve aged so fast, but one day I’ll look at this photo and marvel at my youth. I want to enjoy every moment, I want to appreciate myself, not compare myself to others and wish I were them. I want to be me.

And you know what? I’m a-ok. And so are you. Beautiful, wonderful, unique, just-as-you-are you.

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Alex

15 thoughts on “I don’t even care what my decolletage looks like

  1. Never worry about the white hair! Nikki and I were having a conversation yesterday and she asked me something, to which I answered: “I don’t know” and she replied. “Right, you don’t have enough white hair yet.” Grandma has been instructing her that white hair is the basis of all wisdom… So I’m going with that theory… 😉

  2. My kids have told me they don’t see a difference when I wear makeup or don’t wear it. More than anything I hope I leave them with the sense that their mother got her “beauty’ from laughing, playing, being active, eating well (and sometimes not so well because what’s life without treats?) and surrounding myself with people who could care less whether I’m in style or not.

    1. <3 Mine certainly won't remember me for being active, but I'm seriously amazing at the laughing part.

  3. Honestly, I just can’t accurately express how much I love this. (Forgive me my ramble!)

    Look, everyone wants to be happy, feel loved, live well, share the good..
    who the heck ever said we had to be some weirdly, socially constructed idea of perfect while doing it?

    I’d like to slap that guy (or gal.. but come on, you know it was some dude!) upside the head with a wet noodle!

    I never want to be the kind of person who said “No.” to playing in the dirt because I’d get dirty. No way! I certainly don’t want my kiddos to see me sitting on the sidelines when they are out there “playing” life! I wanna play! 😀

    My Things have made me take part. If they ever doubt their worth, I will be the first to point out that while by all appearances and logic I gave them life, in truth, it is these two little bundles of hope that gave life to me!

    1. I love that you do this, too, Peady. I want to be IN my life, not an observer. I don’t want to spend my time worried about how I look, how much I weigh, or what anyone but those I love thinks of me. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful post. I do wear makeup but it’s not for anyone but myself. I feel I look too pale without it (DH didn’t know I wore makeup until we got married).
    As long as you feel good about yourself, then who cares! I am not worried about wrinkles or stretch marks, celliute , etc. as long as I am healthy and feel good about my body, then I am happy (this took me a long time to realize and there are days I have to tell myself this again and again).

    1. Yes, I like my makeup, too. And I like to do my hair, wear pretty things… I like all of it.

      But I don’t want to have to feel like we need to fit into expected beauty boxes. It takes the joy and wonder out of being our own beautiful selves.

      I tell myself these things every. single. day. 🙂

  5. Fantastic post! I’ve given up on perfect and am going for happy ;). Gorgeous photo!

  6. “I look at photos of myself from just four short years ago and wonder how I’ve aged so fast, but one day I’ll look at this photo and marvel at my youth.” Yes! I was just recently looking at a picture of me right after childbirth and thinking how young and happy I looked. I could barely bear to look at that picture when it was first taken because I was tired and frazzled, with no makeup and extra weight. I look back at it now and think how beautiful I was.

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