Monday, March 05, 2007

You look good for your age

I have always admired the actress Diane Keaton. Not because I've been so impressed with her acting as much as the fact that she seems so okay with herself. It seems like she has been successful in avoiding the Hollywood trappings of self-upgrade. She is in her early 60s now, and shockingly enough, she has wrinkles! Her hair is grey! She looks like a woman of her age, and in my opinion she is one of the most beautiful, authentic people in Tinsel Town.

That's why when my friends started talking about aging recently, I casually blew it off. If Diane Keaton can age gracefully, I thought, so can I. I mean, I'm only 30 for cryin our loud! Yet my friends continued to talk about how their "youth and beauty" were fleeing them. What? Where? I don't see it, I said. Microscopic lines were appearing around their eyes, they claimed. Ever-so-miniscule creases were developing on their foreheads—and white hairs were more prevalent. Hadn't I noticed a change too?

Not really. I was just going along, thinking everything was okay. I couldn't see the changes they were talking about on their faces. They looked like my same old friends to me. If I didn't notice the changes on them, why should I notice them on me? And nobody cares about that stuff anyhow, do they?

This weekend I went out to dinner with my mom and ordered a glass of chardonnay. Our waiter, who was probably in his early 20s asked to see my ID. He looked at my birthday and his eyebrows went up. He glanced over at me for a second and then handed me back the card saying, "You look good for your age."

I took the card and said "thankyou," feeling flattered by his comment. But as he walked away I began to consider what he said a bit more. Hey, what do you mean "for your age?" Like if you lined me up next to a bunch of elderly 30-year-olds like me I might stand out as looking "good," but pit me against a bunch of spry 20-year-olds, and I haven't got a chance?

I got home and examined my face closely. Ahhg! There they were--a crease developing across my forehead. Dry patches under my eyes, blotchy skin, flabby thighs! My friends were right! My body is changing, and I hadn't even noticed.

After a bit of freaking out, I thought again about Diane Keaton. Why did I admire her? Was it because she had somehow outsmarted the system and avoided aging altogether? Or because she didn't look her age? No, it is precisely because she does look her age that I esteemed her. So as I start to see the earliest signs telling me I'm no longer in my twenties, I'm going to try not to panic and spend far too much money on wrinkle cream or hair coloring quite yet. Instead I want to learn to embrace each age I'm at for what it is, because it's only going to get more obvious that I'm not 20 anymore the farther away from 20 I get.

I still really like Diane Keaton. I think she looks great for her age.


Ellen said...

Great post. I was recently at a retreat where Michelle Graham, author of "Wanting to Be Her," spoke. One of the things she mentioned is how we often comment on a person's appearance before noticing anything else and how that can be a subtle (or not-so-subtle) message that our appearance is more important than our character or personality.

Michelle's mother was with her for the weekend and wouldn't you know one of the first things I said to her mom (before I heard this particular message) was, "Are you Michelle's mom? You don't look old enough to be her mom." Major foot in mouth. If I could do the moment over I would say, "Are you Michelle's mom? I'm so glad you could be here. It's really great that you're helping Michelle take care of the baby this weekend."

May God continue to develop real beauty in us, not through our physical appearance but through our character and the way that we treat others. As we grow older, may we grow wiser and more loving.

David A. Zimmerman said...

I heard Diane Keaton say once that "you can be beautiful for a while, but you can be funny forever." I love her.

Stacey said...

Hey, just found your blog recently. So excited to hear your thoughts. And I think you look good for every age.