Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two Ways to Look at a Woman

I'm currently reading a book called The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.  It's an older book now; you might even be able to get away with calling it a classic feminist book, since it's 25 years old at this time.  It talks about the backlash from society against women after the women's movement and as women gained more power and status in our culture.  I won't go too into the book because it's pretty deep, but I'll say that it's worth reading even if you're not interested in feminism or the women's movement.

I do want to quote a part of the book that really moved me.  She's talking about how cosmetic companies and doctors try to make a woman's normal body functions and aging process into diseases for their own profit, and that you can see a woman two ways.

"You could see the signs of female aging as diseased, especially if you had a vested interest in making women too see them your way.  Or you could see that if a women is healthy she lives to grow old; as she thrives, she reacts and speaks and shows emotion, and grows into her face.  Lines trace thought and radiate from the corners of her eyes after decades of laughter, closing together like fans as she smiles.  You could call the lines a network of "serious lesions," or you could see that in a precise calligraphy, thought has etched marks of concentration between her brows, and drawn across her forehead the horizontal creases of surprise, delight, compassion, and good talk.  A lifetime of kissing, of speaking and weeping, shows expressively around a mouth scored like a leaf in motion.  The skin loosens on her face and throat, giving  her features a setting of sensual dignity; her features grow stronger as she does.  She has looked around in her life, and it shows.  When gray and white reflect in her hair, you could call it a dirty secret or you could call it silver or moonlight.  Her body fills into itself, taking on gravity like a bather breasting water, growing generous with the rest of her.  The darkening under her eyes, the weight of her lids, the minute cross-hatching, reveal that what she has been part of has left in her its complexity and richness.  She is darker, stronger, looser, tougher, sexier.  The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold. 
Or, if your ad revenue or your seven-figure salary or your privilegde sexual status depend on it, it is an operable condition."

I hope I can see my own aging as a beautiful thing.

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