Fill your face, plump those lines, do whatever

Growing up my model for femininity was a stunning mother who stuck her head under the kitchen sink to wash it, sometimes with dishwashing liquid, walked around with nary a touch of any makeup, who dressed for parties or important client meeting, she was an architect, like a rock star. 

Me with a shovel in my mouth. Beautiful woman with wicker basket is mom.

And so I grew up, born in 1957 completely confused by the images around me, Raquel Welch (big boobs), Twiggy (don't eat), Julie Christie (brilliant and gorgeous), the Bond girls (wear a bikini and carry a dagger in your teeth). I always wanted to be pretty, nay, beautiful and every time I achieved that goal, almost without exception, I was hurt, sometimes in a small way, attacked by jealous girls at a country club, in a major way, raped, in a false way, first marriage, suicidally miserable yet a beautiful bride. Beauty came with starvation, such unhappiness and violence, being the pretty one made men at work behave in an awful way, made a professor stalk me, made me confused, sad and yes, occasionally, happy.
Sunbathing on a rock at 15.
Happiness was a result of lovers who possibly entered my life from a physical attraction but stayed because they actually cared about my feelings, respected my intelligence and found the mixture of narcissism and self-loathing balanced itself out enough to create someone they could stay with. 

Me, in rag curls.
And so we grow. we grow older, wiser, kinder and sometimes, sadder. After I had my son I forgave myself. I looked back at photographs of myself, trying to be a sexy actress, a normal actress, a person in publishing, a writer. I was thin, thin, thin and thought I was fat, fat, fat. And never good enough. Still getting tons of attention from men but my husband wanted me to go back to the thin, exhausted girl he met in NYC and I was now, finally, a mother. Why should I keep up that whole exhausting, dispiriting race to be the most beautiful woman in the room? I had experienced that and it meant nothing. mainly that people didn't talk to me or other people's husbands tried to
pick me up. It was lonely and stupid.  Me, reading in a miniskirt.
My chef, friend, son who helped me forgive myself for everything.

And now? I'm sixty. Last year a slightly younger women than me going through a painful divorce leaned forward, pointed at my forehead and suggested botox. Yes, I was offended but I am also loved and really sort of okay with the stuff I
see on my rare visits to the mirror, age spots, a few wrinkles, skin tags, whatever. It's actually interesting and my god I feel lucky to be alive, healthy, surrounded by love. And love is ageless. I feel free, slightly dazed and filled with gratitude. Wisdom is experience with some understanding of what has been not a perfect but an incredibly interesting life filled with beauty: sunsets, babies, kindness, grief, happiness, forgiveness, dreams.


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