And How Do We Reverse It?
I like to use the past tense, as though maybe it will convince me that this part of my life is over. I always thought aging would be a slow and steady process. You would gain weight and wrinkles over a period of time, and you had time to get used to them before more came along.
I held on to this idea for a long time, thinking aging was graceful. I would wear my grey hairs as a crown placed above my head for all the years I have survived. My wrinkles would remind me of the years I spent raising children and building a life. I would never consider plastic surgery because aging was beautiful. Honestly, it wasn’t even self-esteem.
In fact, I pretty much thought no amount of plastic surgery would fix all the things that I disliked about myself, but aging was a thing some never get to experience, so why fight a blessing?
History Of My Younger Years
Yes, I am simply referring to the days before COVID as “my younger years” now. It only seems fitting at this point.
Going back to 2019, I was a 29-year-old who had stayed around 110-115lbs my whole life. I was carded for every alcoholic beverage and pack of cigarettes, and back in my younger years, you only had to be 18 to purchase those!
I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and even after pregnancy, I seemed to shrink right back down into my old jeans with little to no effort. I had more acne than I did wrinkles, and quite frankly, looking back now, I had it easy.
How Did All That Change In 2020
It felt to me as if I woke up one day and looked in the mirror to see a stranger. I was now sitting at 145 lbs and needing a whole new wardrobe because nothing even attempted to fit me anymore. A stack of jeans 4 feet high with broken belt loops due to trying to force them over an extra 20 pounds of thighs sits inside my closet. The subtle hope that I may once again fit into my favorite pair of size 1 jeans is nowhere in sight.
I feel almost as if I woke up one morning and had aged 10 years. I noticed my wrinkles more prominently showing. I felt “frumpy” and noticed the weight gain stuck out like a sore thumb. My feet, my hair, even my arms, I could see the effects of aging everywhere.
Suddenly, even the clothes that still fit didn’t seem fitting. I felt like a 50-year-old trying to look like an 18-year-old. I looked at the lines on my forehead and considered how much it would be to get them filled, or maybe getting my eyes done would make more of a difference, possibly both.
I Didn’t Fit In Anywhere
Going to the park with my children felt silly. Younger moms would band together and talk about the days they have had or milestones their children reached. Grandmothers would sit and read books while their grandkids played. I was stuck somewhere in the middle. A person who looked like they were 50 wearing the clothes of a 19-year-old.
Wrinkles made their appearance across the top of my face and acne across the bottom. I felt like I aged overnight. I didn’t know how to be old. How do I become comfortable with love handles protruding from my pants? Do I treat my face for acne or wrinkles? Is cleavage appropriate for a woman my age?
I wasn’t allowed to process this, no time to gradually accept the aging body I carried around. I didn’t know who I was when I looked in the mirror. How do you learn to love a stranger?
Why Do We Feel We Aged Overnight?
If you have made it this far into my rant, you too may be feeling the same way. If you are here for answers on reversing aging, I, unfortunately, don’t have those. What I do have is an understanding.
I didn’t age 10 years overnight. Just because I turned, 30 did not mean that mother nature handed me an extra 20 lbs and a cup of wrinkles. Instead, I aged myself. When I started working from home, I started eating more and burning fewer calories. I sat more in my chair and focused on my work or keeping my kids sane. The physically taxing job I once had was now gone.
I stopped putting makeup on every day, and I slowed down. Not in such a way, I was gaining unhealthy weight, at least not yet, but in such a way, I noticed the years had taken a toll. Without makeup, I saw more of the flaws I used to cover up with makeup religiously every morning. My hair was easier to manage if I just let it go wild, so I stopped using as many products in it.
I was so busy; I didn’t notice the fine lines on my face or the gut that was slowly forming after 30 years of being an avid pie lover. Once I started seeing signs of aging, I was uncomfortable and looked for solutions which led me to notice more. It’s hard to detect and cover up the lines around your eyes without seeing the new lines on your forehead.
How Do We Love Ourselves Again?
My dreams of looking in the mirror one day and being able to say, “this wrinkle was from when my daughter spent her first night in her own home” or “this wrinkle was from the time our son fell off his bike” are over. BUT I’m learning to love myself again.
The fact is we became more comfortable with ourselves. We didn’t have to wake up every day during the lockdown and put makeup on. Even if you were going out, you were wearing a mask anyway. We didn’t have to flat iron our hair or put fake lashes on our eyes. If you did, I applaud you, but most of us didn’t feel the need to. We were able to see the natural person instead of the person we made ourselves to be.
Self-care turned into mental health, emotional support, and escaping the chaos when we could. Now, I let my hair flow freely more often. I put on less makeup and sometimes even go out with no makeup at all. I am making an effort to take an extra walk or even take the stairs instead of the elevator.
After so much time spent focusing on our looks and figuring out how to cover up our flaws, we stepped out into a world where no one cared how much makeup was on your face. No one noticed a few extra pounds. We were happy to see each other, not what each other looked like.
No, it’s not easy. In a world that revolves around physical appearance, it is sometimes hard to love the natural version of yourself. In a world where the makeup isles are longer than the medication isles, it is hard to convince yourself you don’t need it. But I promise you, if I haven’t seen you because of COVID, I don’t care if you show up with no makeup or makeup like the guys from KISS.
Love yourself, try to get used to, and accept every part of you. Don’t go back to the habit of covering up your flaws. Find a way to embrace them. Wear makeup because you want to, not because you feel like you have to.
There is nothing wrong with a few extra pounds or a few more wrinkles. Take care of your physical and mental health. The person who raises your children is the person behind the makeup. The person who excels in their career does so with those few extra pounds. Embrace the you that is on the inside and embrace the natural beauty on the outside.
My body has been carrying me for 31 years and raised 5 amazing children. Yes, my face has wrinkles. I have used it to laugh, smile, kiss, cry, and see everything I have seen. My body has created and carried 3 beautiful little boys and ate countless pies. It has worked so hard I pushed it to its breaking point. It’s had surgeries, injuries, carried babies, and had countless sunburns.
You are beautiful. It is time we see each other for more than just a pretty face or perfect body. It’s time we care more about the heart and soul of people rather than put them on a pedestal because they have good genetics.
It’s time we look in the mirror and see the beauty that lies in everything you are and everything you have done, not the beauty that comes in a bottle.
-The Un-Traditional Mother