I once was a beautiful young mother. I have proof. In this picture I was in my twenties, the mother of a young and also very beautiful young boy. We lived in Michigan, and the picture was taken by my then-husband. I am enchanted by the expressions, the head scarf (I don't remember wearing them), and my young and sort of pudgy hand on his shoulder. Where are they now?
Well, Chris is in a grave in Bamberg, Germany, and I am now an old woman. I have proof. In this picture, taken a week ago in Snohomish, I am smiling, wearing no makeup of course, but there is no doubt that this woman is, well, old. Do I care? Of course I do!
In early 2008, when I retired from my job and moved to Bellingham, I also decided to stop wearing makeup. I remember very well a day in Boulder when I ran into a friend in a bookstore and I hadn't put any makeup on. I felt naked, like it wasn't appropriate for me to smile or face the person directly. I actually don't think he noticed, but I did. My "face" was something I always felt it necessary to put forward when I was out in public. I felt better about myself.
I made a few first attempts to wear makeup when I stepped out here in Bellingham, but going to the gym and working out, taking a shower afterward, made it seem necessary to apply the makeup later. And so that meant walking around "naked" first, and before long, it was no longer a necessary part of my life to wear makeup.
Sometimes I see a woman around my age obviously wearing makeup, looking good in a way I don't any more, but I wonder: I know she is wearing it, I can see the lipstick, the foundation, the eyeshadow. It doesn't make her look any younger, but does she need it the way I used to need it? Does she think of it as her "face" like I did?
As women age, they become more and more invisible. That I have also noticed. Young women draw the eye, and old women just sort of fade into invisibility. I have read articles about this phenomenon and experience its reality firsthand.
But do I care? Of course I do! Do I think for even one minute that going back to wearing makeup will make me more visible? No. I am finding new exciting opportunities in invisibility, watching from another vantage point, no longer the center of attention. I care very much about the human condition, and because I have this blog to mull and contemplate, also along with some now very good online friends, I am content.