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.
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. 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.