By Arden Edelecup (aka: The Beauty Babe)
I turned 50 last month, and my friend Karyn turned 40. Now here is the shocking part of this statement: Despite our heroic efforts to defy the hands of time, neither one of us looks 30.
I stare in disbelief at those fresh-faced photos of us from over a decade ago, and damn, we really DO look 10 years older than we did back then. Who is playing this dirty, rotten trick on us? I know for a fact that Oprah PROMISED ME that 50 was the new 30. I naively believed her and all of the other pop culture gurus that insured us that we were the generation that could stay sexy and desirable forever.
It has been our ‘Generational Mandate’ to twist our bodies into a yoga pose, embrace that gluten-free diet, and freeze those offensive forehead muscles.
But along the way, didn’t we all take a sip of that deception-filled glass of Kool-Aid?
Admittedly, I will squirrel away my last dollar on virtually any wrinkle-filling needle. I actually “experimented” with Botox light years before it was even FDA-approved for wrinkles. Claiming that I was afraid a few dark spots on my face were going to turn into deadly cancerous lesions, I burned and battered my skin with ultra beam laser treatments. While covered with thick, gooey ointment for a week, I gleefully awaited the arrival of my brand new baby soft (aka: wrinkle free) skin. Recently, my friend Liz playfully laughed that I needed an “injection intervention”, as she slurped down the newest celebrity-endorsed seven-day detox potion. Through her stinky sips, she babbled on about cleansing out the nasty toxins lurking inside her that were blocking her spiritual awareness. That was on Day One. After spending a hungry week drinking “baby food” from a straw, she gleefully called to announce that she lost five pounds of unsightly vacation weight. It appears that those vile toxins were blocking her ability to fit into those size 2 Lululemon leggings.
One day over coffee, Karyn sighed that she has literally pedaled to Shanghai from all of the years she’d spent furiously pedaling away at her 6 am spin class. Even dangerous Chicago ice storms were no match for her steely determination to get to that class. I see that same laser focus with my “yogi” friends. Over green tea, they tout the magical Zen-like peacefulness that emerges from being twisted like a pretzel in sweltering hot yoga studios.
Some have confided that hours of “Downward Dog” have transformed and sculpted their bodies in ways that they could never have imagined, which means that they can totally rock a pair of low-rise jeans like never before.
Not surprisingly, we are hardly unique as we try to unravel the truth behind this complicated internal struggle with our beauty. The Today/AOL “Ideal to Real” Body Image Survey revealed that women spend an average of 55 minutes a day “working” on their appearance. What actually constitutes “working” on our appearance? And can’t our work also have the dual effects of providing us with internal peace and satisfaction as well as rock hard abs?
With the recent death of Joan Rivers, I was actually stunned at how alarmingly chipmunk-like her face had become as she aged. Her famous joke that she’d rather see old clothes on a new face, than new clothes on an old face, was always my favorite. Sadly, a documentary on her life revealed that she suffered from debilitating self-doubt about her looks that stemmed from her childhood as an ugly duckling. She used her comedic brilliance to hide the pain, yet her insecurities fueled an obsession that ultimately distorted both her face and reality. She spent her life on a quest for a beauty that she could never quite obtain.
Perhaps we are all in some way deluding ourselves into believing that if we work hard enough, we can obtain and maintain that beauty.
And of course, that leads right into the Renee Zelwegger “Altered Face Debate” that has been flooding the news and late night talk shows for a week. That adorable cherub-faced girl we all fell in love with just like Tom Cruise did in Jerry Maguire has quite literally morphed into … Kelly Preston. She was utterly unrecognizable, yet stunningly beautiful too. And while I would love to jump onto the feminist bandwagon on society’s obsession with aging, and psychoanalyze her with the rest of the media, I honestly have just one simple question: Don’t we all see a little bit of ourselves in her?
We are a narcissistic world, and if this one actress can ignite a firestorm of controversy, let’s take a look at WHY.
Sure, our lives are not set on the world stage of millions, and obviously we cannot relate to the enormous pressure of a 45-year-old aging actress. Fair enough, but we all have our own “audience” in our own lives, who are witness to our newly sprouted grey roots, slightly sagging butts and boobs, and all of the other insidious signs of aging. While it is so tempting to stand in judgment of her, exactly where is our own line in the sand? Botox, check. Facial filler, check. By painting her with the broad stroke of pity for her desperate attempt to look young, it deflects what is really going on.
Maybe Renee Zellweger and Joan Rivers are both just an extreme versions of ALL of us, and that is what is so hard to swallow.
In my search for answers, I spoke to Dr. Cheryl Perlis, an OB/GYN specializing in women’s wellness and bio-identical hormones. She stated quite simply that we have it all wrong: We are literally trying to fix the external first instead of doing the real “heavy lifting” of trying to find out what is going on internally.
“Most of us need to find our emotional balance, and in our frenzy of chasing Eternal Beauty, we are trying to catch an illusive butterfly.”
Perlis elaborates by stating that staying aligned with your energy is the real goal. That being said, we can still incorporate all of those fabulous beauty innovations that are at our disposal. We just need to take inventory of what we are truly seeking before we search for the next “anti aging” miracle. Hmm, now that is something to hop off the treadmill and think about for a moment.
Do we really WANT to look 10 years younger or just better for our age than the generations that grew old before us? And do any of us really miss the raging self-doubts that plagued us in our ’20s?
And if we look at women in our own age group, it is a pretty impressive array of hotness. From celebrities to our neighbors, we may look a few years older but there is a certain sophistication we get with age. Our style is more individually unique and we never need to succumb to any dopey fashion trend (neon anything comes to mind). We can relish in knowing that we can still look damn good in a leather jacket and a white tee, but have the wisdom to know there are vastly more important things in our lives as well.
There is a certain beauty that comes with that kind of maturity, and maybe we needed a wrinkle or two to see it.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Arden Edelcup is a Mom of three “Indiana Hoosiers” and owner, with her hubby Earl Edelcup, of Ross’s in Highland Park, Illinois. Check out her website: www.rosscosmetic.com. Innovative gynecologist Dr. Cheryl Perlis is based in Lake Bluff, Illinois, and can be reached at: Perliswellnesscenter.com