Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Having Wrinkles in a High Def World

When Bruce Springstein took the stage at the 2012 Grammy Awards Show, he looked pretty much the same as he had 30 years ago when I saw him at Madison Square Garden. Born to Run and hot to trot. Clearly a little nip and tuck had been at play, but it was so nice to see him so energetic and seemingly still in his prime. Only he and God know whether his knees or hips were in extreme pain for the next few days.
Paul McCartney, whose big brown eyes and boyish face graced my walls for years when I was a teenager, looked not so much old as sad and tired. And no amount of flat dull matte brown hair color could change that impression. I was surprised the Hollywood hairdressers hadn’t done right by him, but even his music seemed to be missing some spark.

But none of it prepared me for the Beach Boys – the cute surfer dudes of my youth whose on screen close-ups were alarming. With their faces weathered and swollen from booze drugs and age, I barely listened to the music. Gone were the thoughts of their glorious musical genius and the happiness it brought.  There were no “good vibrations” on my end. My eyes were fixed on what they had become visually. Note to self, get to a plastic surgeon ASAP. Maybe Joan Rivers was right.
A few nights after the grammies aired, I saw a special about Lucille Ball and she looked wonderful, even as an older woman without surgery. Yes, there are wrinkles and all the rest of it, but she still had the sparkle she possessed as a young woman. Her eyes were bright and she brought a smile to my face and she was already over 60.

Many of the TV icons of my formative years were older people! Who didn’t want Marcus Welby as their doctor or Bonanza’s Lorne Greene, as their dad (or now as their lover!), or Donna Reed as their mother? Was it my perspective or was it ok to be older then?

The advent of high def for celebrities must be what "talkies" were for silent film stars.  When voice was added, those without good ones were axed.  Now that humans are to appear without wrinkles or signs of aging - what will happen?  Will today's hollywood moguls stop making movies or tv shows with anyone over 45? We would've never seen the Golden Girls!

After turning 40 as my eyesight started losing ground,I often thought maybe it’s a good thing. After all, before my glasses are on, I look pretty good in the mirror. 
As I insert my contacts lenses, and I come into clear focus, my own high def horror begins.
Lord put some make-up on that face – where did all those age spots and wrinkles come from? Maybe older people will just keep their hi def tvs a little out of focus to avoid seeing too much!

As an aging boomer, caught between twenty something children, and eighty something parents, fortunately I get another "reality" based perspective. My parents are residents in senior living places and through them I meet plenty of older people who never experience nip and tuck and look wonderful. It’s not all about wrinkles and face-lifts. Being able to laugh and smile is worth a lot more than a face without lines.

A human face sparkles if life shines within.

As these folks share their stories, I get the triumphs and the ups and downs that they  have experienced - that have molded them into who they are. I'm not focused on what a plastic surgeon might have fixed. Then again in the new high def world order, maybe that's how we're all evaluated?
Whatever....Making it through life’s ups and downs is achievement enough – fewer wrinkles or a slack chin don't matter so much at 80, any more than the indelible stretch marks that come with bearing children.

Even as I ponder the likelihood of me and plastic surgery, aging has brought me some special gifts. For starters, I've never felt as self-possessed and free to be who I am. It's been quite liberating to feel self-acceptance. Unlike many of my peers who want to turn the clock back, I have no desire to be 20 or 30 or even 40 again – even if I would be wrinkle free. Sure when I watch tennis players on TV I wish I could play as well, or at all for that matter.  But since I don't inhabit the high def screen, I can sit comfortably in the audience, with my glasses on, ogling the icons who stay forever young.


  1. Such a brilliant point that HD today must be like talking pictures back in the 30s. The only thing I like HD for is watching sports - otherwise I never feel the need to see anyone's face that close. It's sad that people in this society no longer feel that they can age gracefully - what was once an earned mark of your time on this earth is now seen as unappealing, with no regard for the journey your body took on its way. I hope to age as gracefully as my mother, who still looks wonderful - young and vibrant, despite all the spots she points out to me. Life certainly shines from within her.

  2. Your "high def horror" looks better than 30! It is okay to age and be naturally beautiful - and certainly is a much better option that not being able to express emotion through your facial features. What has gotten into people thinking it's not ok to look great at any age? When you turn 65, you shouldn't still look like your 40...it's just not natural and everyone is in on the secret!