Self-Esteem: Outer Beauty–On Aging and Acne

Here’s another attempt to tackle the outer beauty issue, with another one that is heavily influenced by Photoshop:  beautiful skin.  While we should certainly try to take care of our skin, we should not expect our faces at 40 to look like they did at 20.  And most attempts to force the issue, with implants, pulling, tucking, pinning, and injecting, simply end up looking unnatural instead of looking like someone who has the self-confidence to feel beautiful as they age gracefully.

Rather than bore you with a ton of before and after pictures of celebs that have had less than spectacular cosmetic surgery, I’d just like to show you this beautiful picture of Audrey Hepburn.  Does she have the flawless skin that she had in Sabrina?  No.  But is she not still beautiful?  Why can this not be what we aspire to, instead of trying to deny that time has left its mark on us?

Maybe I’m not really qualified to speak on this subject, because at 40, I seem to have been blessed (so far) with relatively few wrinkles.  I have never really been bothered by my age.  I figure I earned my laugh lines, and I’ve certainly earned my grey hairs!  I didn’t dread turning 30 or 40, and I don’t imagine that I will dread the remaining major milestones either.  But I have to say, I LOVE to see an older woman whose beauty shines through her wrinkles and grey hair!  We do not cease to be beautiful just because we age.

As part of the “Real Beauty” campaign, Dove made several ads featuring older women with the words “too old to be in an anti-aging ad” printed across their bodies.  The most unfortunate part is that the ads were banned in the US because of the nudity.

Apparently it’s only ok to peddle wares in the buff if you are in your teens or early twenties, and size 0.

Now, I realize that this is a marketing strategy, but I really do find it refreshing to see “regular” women in beauty ads.  There are some who complained that the “real” women only represented a slightly expanded definition of beauty.  But we’ve got to start somewhere, right?  Whether you think it’s a gimmick or not, at least it addresses a topic that needs to be addressed.

I guess a topic that is closer to home for me is blemishes.  Since I was about 12 or so, I have had freakishly hypersensitive skin.  It goes crazy at the slightest change in moisturizer, cleanser, makeup, anything.  It responds negatively to too much sun, too much chlorine, too much saltwater, not enough water, and the list goes on.  At the moment, I would be embarrassed to go out without foundation, because I have exposed myself to who-knows-what-irritant, and my face currently looks like I rubbed poison ivy all over it.  I have always longed to have smooth, clear, flawless skin.

You can find quite a few pictures of celebrities without their glamorous makeup.  Unfortunately, they are usually chosen to be the worst possible picture of the person, so that they can sensationalize how “terrible” the celeb looks without their face painted on.  It’s so difficult to find instances where these candid pics are portrayed in a positive light, unless the celeb in question is one of those people blessed with naturally flawless skin, and still in their 20’s.  It’s almost as if they should be ashamed of themselves for daring to leave the house without makeup, because we might see that they’re not perfect.

So where does that leave the rest of us?  It leaves us daily looking in the mirror and lamenting that we ourselves don’t have beautiful skin.  Why do we accuse celebs of “making a mistake” when they let us see how imperfect their own natural faces are, like AnnaLynn McCord:

Stars Without Makeup: AnnaLynne McCord

While there were several instances of applauding her for being willing to post her picture without makeup, there were at least as many that were aghast that she would dare to do so, even going so far as to say how terrible she looked and what a mistake she made by doing this.  Would we expect her to do a glamorous photo shoot sans makeup?  No.  But I for one am encouraged to know that I’m not the only one who has issues with their skin.

And now, on a more humorous note (try to overlook the awkward grammar):

See the original and published pictures here.

I have no problem with using moisturizer and trying to protect my skin from excessive sun exposure, smoking, excessive drinking, drugs, and all of the other things that cause us to show signs of age prematurely.  But I am not willing to surgically alter my face in an attempt to look 20 at age 40, or 40 at age 60.  I intend to embrace the changes as they come.

What do you think?  Should we as a culture be less obsessed with wrinkles?  With blemishes?  Do you find it odd that many cultures revere the old, grey, and wrinkled, but our culture tends to make aging seem like something that should be avoided at all costs?  Do you find this is something you struggle with?  How do you try keep your skin looking the best that it can?

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