Friday, March 25, 2011
Feminism and Beauty: Aging Partners
It's hard to harumph out of one side of your face, while squirming with the other. Read a post by Vivian Diller this morning titled The Beauty Paradox: When Feminism and Vanity Collide. Diller has a new book, Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change. We have stuff to grapple with as we age, but the beauty part seemed the least troublesome bit to me. "When you reach 50 or 60, feminism can feel like a directive to let looks go, while caring about one's looks can feel narcissistic or anti-feminist - a dilemma many Boomers were not prepared to face." Oh, dear. I feel dragging feminism in to portray an artificial devil's advocate against beauty is incendiary. The message of the gargantuan beauty industry is that we are never to be happy with our looks at any age. Does this book contribute to our well-being, or poke the disharmony drummed into our psyches? Diller uses the phrase "unshaven, aggressive women." The author calling that phrase a cliched perception does not forgive using it. In order to recapture balance and harmony and unclench my jaw, I contemplated what my true feelings are. I cropped a photo of me close up to see if I can face it. Maybe it was a sideways blessing to have multiple face surgeries: after the big one to get all the cancer, when I expected to lose my nose, my eye and maxillary plane, every concern about beauty vanished in the recovery room. A coworker said "that scar tissue, you know, one side of your face is going to sag faster than the other." It has. Swell. I have a nose. Maybe it's made of my thigh, lower abdomen and cartilage from my ear, and hikes up to chat with my eyebrow; but my smile works, my twinkling eyes are my own, and I can store spare change in the lines in my forehead. Though I am surprised by my reflection occasionally, I do really love the feminist I see. Feminism is a life companion, a strong and resilient partner in my overall beauty.