by Sharon M. Kennedy
I’ll admit it. I’ve committed the only unpardonable crime in America. It has nothing to do with a legal infraction that could easily be dismissed by hiring a competent lawyer. I didn’t make elaborate coup plans or check out questionable Internet sites. The silent crime more or less crept up on me. You know how you go to bed one night feeling great but awaken in the morning with a raging cold? Well, that’s how I feel.
My crime is a common one committed by females all over the world. It unites us in a sisterly bond and causes us to cling together for mental and moral support. Our crime against modern society is that of growing old and doing little to prevent it. Without the aid of Botox injections, lip plumpers, $500 creams, or any kind of cosmetic lift, we allowed age to walk all over us. And the bad news doesn’t stop at our eyelids, cheekbones, or foreheads. It continues all the way up to our silvery crowns, and all the way down to our fragile tootsies.
Sharon at age 30 (left) and 40 years later (right)
If Cover Girl, Max Factor, or Mary Kay took me to court, I wouldn’t stand a chance. The jury would take one look at me and refuse to leave their box. With one unanimous voice, they’d shout the word I knew was coming: Guilty. I’d be carted off to the nearest jailhouse operating room where a teenager dressed in white would hand me over to a surgeon for the procedures required to transform this matron’s face into that of a 20 year old.
Thankfully, politicians haven’t yet passed a law decreeing signs of old age a criminal offense. However, I have a feeling the day is coming when any woman sporting a line, wrinkle, age spot, crow’s foot, or sagging jowl will be hauled off to a cell, strapped in a chair, and poked with needles until all signs of aging are erased. Plastic surgeons may have a little more trouble eradicating the chicken neck on us oldsters, but they’ll chop away until all loose skin is wrapped around, behind, or between our ears.
My 2022 New Year’s resolution is simple. I’m going to continue aging as fast as possible so I don’t have to undergo the knife when growing old becomes a felony. I’m sure a youthful appearance is already mandated in many workplaces. Just look at the people delivering cable news commentaries. Unless they’re under 25, each face has been sandblasted prior to going on camera. Ditto for politicians and actors. Catch them off screen and they might scare you. Even people who thought they were improving their looks can give you a fright.
When did our society get so sophisticated that any outward sign of aging is considered vulgar and repugnant? I remember the face of my grandmother. Each line told the story of her life. She was widowed at a young age and left with five children, the youngest being eight years old. She never remarried. I don’t know the history of how she survived without her husband, but she soldiered along as best she could. Grief, worry, and responsibility left their marks on her face, but it would have been unthinkable for her to eradicate what the years had bestowed.
My mother’s face didn’t show the passing of time as much as her eyes did. Just looking into Mom’s lovely green eyes could bring tears to my blue ones for her eyes had captured the turmoil that had escaped her face. Or maybe I didn’t notice lines across her forehead or creases around her mouth because she was my dear mother and her physical appearance didn’t matter. That’s the way it is with the people we love.
Sharon Kennedy’s mom (3rd from left, holding bar)
The youth fixation sweeping our nation may be symptomatic of a greater disease. Many people are dissatisfied with their lives. Perhaps they think altering their face will make them happy, but those of us who have the advantage of age know true happiness cannot be purchased with a medical insurance card. Some of the most beautiful photographs are of the elderly. Years of living etched every human emotion into their face. Each flaw should be treasured as a testimony to the endurance, resilience, and courage required to meet and overcome the challenges life gives us.
Occasionally I run into a Walmart mirror and am startled when I realize the lady looking back at me is me. Maybe you’ve had the same experience. Often we forget what we look like until we unexpectedly run into ourselves. When we acknowledge the woman in the mirror is not a look-alike, on a good day we’re rather pleased with our reflection and congratulate ourselves. Other days are best forgotten.
I’ll admit to using some Avon products and practicing a few facial exercises, but nothing really helps. A year ago I resolved to loose one pound, but the pound didn’t get the message so it stayed. This year I made a promise I know I can keep. Let the aging process continue at a galloping pace. My friends and loved ones wouldn’t know how to greet me if my face had turned to plastic, and I’m willing to bet yours wouldn’t either.
So if Santa didn’t bring that $9000 gift certificate for makeover surgery be happy and embrace your face knowing you’re beautiful just as you are. Ring in the New Year with all the gusto and strength of a Sumo wrestler.