‘Wow. You don’t have any lines on your forehead’ my best friend observed (much to the delight of my new no fringe hair cut). But what started out as an innocent comment quickly spiralled into a detailed assessment of our faces and bodies.
‘Yeah but my wrinkles round my eyes are really bad’ I replied.
‘I think my eyes have actually started dropping.’
‘I don’t think the dark circles around my eyes are getting any worse as I get older, so that’s something isn’t it?’ I said hopefully.
‘I find it best if I don’t look in the mirror…’ Emma replied.
‘I’ve decided I’m going to focus on my body as my face seems to have given up on me.’ I start dreaming about six-packs. Again.
‘I am noticing that my body has changed shape since I’ve started exercising. I think I’ve actually lost my back fat’ my best friend proudly claimed. (Cue squealing from us. I don’t know why, but we seemed to think this was hilarious. *We’re actually having a conversation about back fat!*)
‘I had an awful thought this morning that I might actually have to go on a diet to shift this stubborn muffin top.’
‘Or learn to live with it…’ my wise, wise friend replied.
And here we have it: LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT…
Where is the balance: the balance between loving and accepting yourself just the way you are and striving towards being the best version of you?
This conversation was a couple of days ago and I’ve been mulling it over in my head (whilst frequently inspecting my wrinkles to assess how bad they actually are – quite bad. *Sigh*) Whether I like it or not my face will continue to age and I do not want to take any severe measures that involve either knives or needles; I want to be gracious about ageing – I know that there is more to me than my face or body: I am an interesting, intelligent woman (I hope!) and this is just as important to me.
But of course, intelligent women can also be seduced by the desire to look good. I watched a programme recently with Kate Spicer (a journalist I have always thought highly of) go on an incredible journey with her feelings about anti–ageing treatments. In the space of two weeks she went from ‘just say no’ to having a fairly invasive procedure. I am not criticising, just observing – the programme illustrated perfectly that it is not always easy to be comfortable watching your face age.
And as for my muffin top, I’m not sure what the answer is. I do know that I have spent a huge chunk of my adult life pursuing a honed and toned body; I do know that even at my skinniest and fittest my little pot belly was always there; I do know that my dream of a flat stomach is only part of my fitness dream – that being strong, fit and healthy is a wonderful feeling and vanity is almost the icing to this cake; and I do know that I don’t hate my body – I’m just not sure I love it.
I also know that I could do without these celebrities flaunting their taut faces and rock solid bodies all over the place!: J-Lo (42) with her toned abs in cut out dresses; Gwyneth Paltrow (38) who does not have either an ounce of fat or a wrinkle in sight; Jennifer Annistion (also 42) with the bikini body of a bendy 20-year-old yogi. And yes, these are the ‘beautiful’ people, and we are the ‘normal’ people, but it’s hard to not be influenced by these images.
And sometimes I think there is also a wistful feeling for our youthful bodies, a time when it was easy to turn heads, attention was a normal daily occurrence and compliments about how you looked were a normal part of life.
But here is the mad thing about getting older: I am happier now than I was at 20 and I am definitely more comfortable in my own skin. My body and face may have been less saggy at that age but my mind was a mess!
I will carry on mulling this one over, I suspect it is a challenge that will float around for some years to come. I would like to be in a place where I love and accept myself just the way I am whilst also striving to improve myself; a place where it is not an either or.
Or, as Best Friend suggested, she will give me some back fat to inject into my wrinkles – because that’s the kind of thing that friends do for each other.