Wednesday, April 22, 2009
A few years ago, one of the gals in my book club gave everyone a small personalized gift bag, our name beautifully scripted on the outside. Inside the bag were envelopes containing blank cards. Each envelope had the names of the rest of the club members in the same graceful script printed on them. It was November. The idea was for each member to describe the other women in our club using only positive words. You could use as many as you wanted. It was to be our Christmas gift to one another.I came across my bag of words the other day while rooting through a drawer looking for some ribbon to wrap a gift. I had not looked at them since that Christmas dinner years ago. Upon closer inspection this time, I noticed that the same words appeared over and over again on my cards. Funny and creative. Now, while I like the fact that others consider me funny and creative, the words I really wished for were beautiful and mysterious. So like a woman - never happy with what she's got or who she is. My hair is too straight, my legs are too short, my eyebrows are too thin, my butt is too big...and on it goes.We live in a world of perfection seeking. The ones that can afford it, go to great lengths to change every perceived flaw. Plastic surgeons all over the world are vacationing right now thanks to the worlds lack of self esteem. Oh, but people will justify their treatments and procedures; "There's nothing wrong with trying to be my best self," they'll say. Does being your best self require you to cut your face or inject yourself with botulism? Does being your best self mean risking your life under anesthesia, having the excess fat sucked out of your thighs? Will any of it make you a better person or save your marriage?My grandmother would roll over in her grave today wondering what the hell had gotten into the minds of these women (and men). She never spent a penny on "self-improvement". Even a trip to the hairdresser was reserved for weddings and special occasions. She cut and curled her own hair her whole life. No one loved her any less for it - we loved her just the way she was. I don't look back at her life and say "Geez, grannie really should have done something about those age spots on the back of her hands." No, I do not. All I remember is her sweet nature and her happy voice. Now that I am getting those same spots on my own hands, I realize they are inherited. I know they announce my age and they aren't the most attractive thing in the world, but they remind me of her and that's a good thing, isn't it?Will the world end if I don't have them lasered off? Will my husband cast me aside for a woman with fewer spots? Will they stop me from playing tennis, swinging a golf club, brushing my daughters hair? And what of the expense? I could use that money for so many other things. I guess that is what it really comes down to - money. If you've got money to spare, anything is doable.I suppose I'll live my life never having been described as "beautiful and mysterious", but "funny and creative" is a pretty good back-up position.Could be worse.