Thursday, 14 June 2018

Ageing, Body Image and Me

   In my early thirties I realised I no longer cared whether I was the prettiest/slimmest/tallest/best looking girl in the room. I didn't care whether I was more popular then others, more noticed, whether I was generally more popular or better at things. I would walk into a gym and not scan the room for potential rivals. I was happy in my own skin, happy with my life. And I felt relief when I realised that I don't care what other think or see because I am fine with myself as I am.

   OK, being in the modelling industry earlier didn't help to automatically scrutinise and care way too much about how I looked. Looking at the generation living mostly through their online avatars, it was way easier in the years before internet, really, and I am quietly grateful for that.

   I was lucky enough to enter the thirties in great shape and condition. Motherhood and life in general changed that a little. I changed. Not drastically, but I do look different. So that confidence I had is gone. I assumed that I will be top fit after having my baby as being a mum means having time to do some work out and look after myself, right? All I can say to my pre-baby self is: HA HA. No, not going out to work does not mean MORE time, it means no time for yourself. But I also don't fuss as much as I would years ago. Just yesterday my dentist started talking about how much progress was done in teeth straightening and how he could still help my slightly crooked tooth. What was a major interest in my twenties (when that crooked tooth lost jobs in the glory days of modelling) seemed like a very extravagant expense and, frankly, waste of time. Will it help in any other way than cosmetic? No? Than it is not needed. I would rather save three grands. I am healthy and that is all that matters.

   But as I am settling in the forties now, I feel weird. There are things that seem like betrayal from body that served me so well until now. Chin hair. Two lines between my eyebrows. A sense that the skin on my face and decollete isn't as firm as it used to be. The general feeling that nothing is as firm as it used to be. Few grey hair. It is nothing, really. I am in a good shape, I can not complain and when my GP suddenly insisted on checking my health post 40 I felt offended. There is no change to me now and last year and it seemed like a scheme to get me on the statins so the pharmaceutical industry can finally get some profit of me. I refused, I know I am not overweight, blood pressure is fine etc.

   In my twenties and thirties I always worked with what I had and assumed it will only get better. In my forties I continue to work with what I have but now I am not sure that it will get any better and it makes me feel worried. Not because of vanity but because I have to face the fact that my body will slowly age and eventually it will die and decay. We assume that it won't happen to us, don't we? We are surrounded by ageing people, by sickness and death and we know that we are mortal but there is a little corner in our head that believes we will live forever, stay young forever, keep going forever. Funny how the mind works.

   I was very arrogant when I was young. I would look at women and assume that they don't care, let themselves go, don't have good taste. It is not true. Being perfect doesn't mean perfect life. There are more important things. Once you are settled with a partner that loves you for who you are you don't think that looking great will help you, other things take priority. There is nothing wrong with our body showing what it has been through - scars, stretch marks, cellulite... Shaving off your body hair is not necessary. Seeing the real colour of your hair is interesting and it actually suits you even with few grey strands in it. Stomach without defined muscles and legs without thigh gap are beautiful. Having a healthy child and happy home, doing something you enjoy, having good friends, experience things is more important now. There is so much more to life. I wish I could have enjoyed the young stage more without constantly trying to fit some ideal. I am not even sure where the ideal came from.

   Again, starting up with modelling around sixteen didn't help. Most of us were told that we are fat, too fat the moment our booker would measure us, while our mothers and aunties and GPs were telling us to eat more. There was also a feeling that looking a certain way would bring me more attention from men and help me to find the right one. How stupid. A little Cinderella syndrome I think. In all fairy tales the beautiful princess is the centre of attention and gets her prince. Now I wonder how easy it is to exploit women, create insecurities that live in their heads, profit of them and use them. Men exploit it, women support it instead of finding sisterhood and quitting competing. I have so much to learn my daughter. I just hope that I will find the right way to show her and right words to tell her...

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