If you are not beautiful at sixteen, you can blame Mother Nature. If you are not beautiful at sixty, you have no one to blame but yourself.
I used to teach this mantra to my clients. I used to believe it utterly for myself, but now I don’t, and I’ll tell you why.
At fifty-nine I was happy with my face. It was a warm, kind and generous face; the kind of face you would ask directions from in the street. No, I’ve never been classically beautiful or even pretty, but I had a nice face, and a face made more attractive by animation.
Illness has destroyed that face and I grieve over it. You hear of people’s mouths being pinched with pain and I can now tell you that’s true. Even now, when I’m not permanently in pain, my mouth still pinches itself into a hard, mean line. The new medication, about which I complained a few weeks ago, means it literally takes an effort to smile and so my mouth droops. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten how to smile and each time I have to remember all over again. In addition, there seems to be nothing to smile about. Jokes aren’t funny and I fail to see the ridiculous in situations where I would have giggled before.
All this has taken its toll on my face, and even on my body. When I saw my GP recently over this medication, she said she could see something was wrong as my whole body looked at if it was on Botox! It’s not just my mouth: my whole face droops. My daughter says I permanently look as if I’m going to cry at any moment. I no longer have my lovely friendly face; it’s a tired and unhappy face.
What can I do about it?
Well, for a start I can try to smile whenever I remember. As I write this I am trying to smile. That smile may not reach my eyes right now, but I have to believe it will in time. Whenever my mouth pinches out of habit and I notice, I will try to relax.
I don’t know if it will work. Maybe I must resign myself to being the kind of woman who has a permanently unhappy face in repose. I don’t want to be that woman, but maybe I must accept it.
I no longer judge people as much as I did for the expression on their faces, I don’t know what they are dealing with in their lives.
I only hope people don’t judge me.