Monday, August 10, 2009


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.


  1. WOW! Well said!

    From one aging woman to another... well done!

  2. I have been all across the board on attractiveness and I've noticed that the less than beautiful people also share the invisibility. Having been there before the idea of being there again is not so scary; more like a familiar friend. There is a freedom in it, I believe.
    And I admire your decision to show yourself to the world just as you are. There is a particular beauty in age that cannot be found in those of us who haven't yet experienced your years of life.

  3. You are still beautiful. You just have more expression. I have never been a fan of much makeup. And I think older women look better with the less makeup they wear. I earned everyone of my wrinkles and laugh lines - I am not about to try and hide them. I love your last sentence. "I am content." Well said!!!

  4. D-Jan,good you came by,I wondered what happened,figured maybe you tired of all things Indian.If you enlarge the 1st pic on my post you will see things clearly....there is Blue there.You look lovely and have aged beautifully i think.
    I think a hair cut that frames the face well and a clear complexion is beauty.Will come back soon.

  5. D-Jan,I'm hosting the photo challenge this week-theme"A view from above" all the details are on my other blog. think you can give us some great pics from UP THERE IN THE SKY!Date-16TH August09,this Sunday.Hope you take part.bye

  6. I commend you! I have not found that sense of myself quite yet. And I have not let my hair go grey. I'm working on it - the hairdresser and I have a plan, but I do wear a little makeup. No mascara - that has gone by the wayside when it just ended up smeared under my eyes, but a little blush, a little foundation, curled eyelashes, lipstick.
    I want to be a "crone" - happy in my age, happy with the face that has been through much in life. Reading this has made me realize I am drawing to myself the kind of women that are going to help me do it.
    BTW - You are still a very beautiful woman.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son.

  7. D-Jan,you are right,you missed just one post.I must be turning old or the earth is spinning faster..hehehe!

    The confusion arose because i have put out a few posts on my travel blog and nothing on the art blog until today,so,i missed you....just realised that you follow only the art blog.Sorry.

    sorry about your son,he was a handsome young man.

  8. I gave up on makeup years ago... except for a super rare occasion. Now I'm getting ready to sad goodbye to the londer hair and cut it back to the gray.

  9. A) you're still beautiful, inside and out.

    B) I'm a young mother and I almost never wear makeup. I always feel that it's hiding who I really am (plus it would look silly for me to be walking around in a wet suit at work in full makeup....) Confident women don't need to hide behind a false face. I'm glad that you put your real face forward every day and shared it with us! :)


  10. DJ,
    I absolutely loved this post of yours. I'm also dealing with this age thing, but so far I'm dealing pretty well with it. Your were a very beautiful young woman, but now you are a beautiful mature woman. I know exactly what you mean by the younger women getting the attention and us older ones seeming to be invisible. I tell my husband that I try to look as good as I can for my age, but I'll never be or look 25 again. I had many admirers when I was young and I did some modeling and was in a beauty contest, and to be honest, I am much happier now not "worrying" or "dealing" with all of that any more. My looks defined me, and not always for the good. I wasn't always taken seriously. As a very young woman I was owner and manager of my own insurance agency and was fairly smart and accomplished, but I never felt like that was what people saw. So don't get me wrong. I know I had many opportunities because of my looks, but I'm so much happier now in my 50's. I wear very little makeup. I keep my hair very short. I dress very simply. And it's so liberating. I told my hairdresser that I didn't want to color my hair anymore and she said that's where she draws the line. Told me I wasn't quite ready for that. So I gave in for now. I know I'm going on and on and I don't know if I've come across in the way I want to. I'm not bragging. I'm so happy to have a better much more fulfilled life now that I don't worry about my looks.
    BTW, your son was very good looking, too. I'm so sorry to hear about his passing. That's a loss that's truly painful, I'm sure. The loss of youth is not that hard. Staying healthy is now my concern, I guess.

  11. I like your post very much DJan. You did look very pretty in your pink sweater, but your look beautiful now with your bright smile. Maybe young people do not look at us and we are invisible to them, but I do watch mature women and men. I like to see what they faces show. I like to see smile wrinkles around their mouth and eyes, and not a pinched thin lip and negative face. Everything changes in life, the body, our family, our work just as the seasons do. If we do not resist change and go with it, then we do not suffer. As far as make-up, this is not important – I feel if it makes someone feel more positive about themselves, at any age, then go ahead and wear it. If one does not want to wear make-up or color their hair – then that’s OK too. Age gives you the realization that what other people think of you is not what rules your life. I had a friend at work who was getting gray and agonized about coloring his hair. I told him my philosophy and to go ahead with it (we shared an office). He did and it made him very happy, he thought he looked so much better. Six months after this he was diagnosed with cancer and he died 3 months later. So, you can never know in life, and if changing his hair made him feel good in some way, what was the harm? There is great happiness in aging – maturity, enlightenment, an understanding of oneself, a realization that everything changes, good and bad, and an appreciation for what is important in life. I think that when we mature, we have the wisdom to choose what is best for us, and as long as one is content, like you are, then life is good.

  12. Awwww DJan! You're still beautiful inside and out. I sometimes look in the mirror and think to myself, "My goodness. What happened to that young girl that once looked back at me?" :)
    Makeup is only a cover-up, a disguise if you will. Let your inner beauty shine and hold your head up high - you're BEAUTIFUL!

    I agree and can relate to much of what you said and truly enjoyed reading your post.

    You wear contentment well, my friend!


  13. I am overwhelmed with such wonderful responses to my post. I guess I'm not alone here, huh? VB, how fortunate your friend colored his hair and gave himself a present. Nina, your picture is so incongruent with the thought of "Grandma" so I am not surprised you used to be a beauty queen.

    The story about my son is

  14. Dear Dorothy Jan,

    When I saw your past and present photo, I can't help but compare it. And I noticed that the only difference that I saw were the few lines on your face and the color of the hair, but it is still the same you! The same DJan who speaks to us from the heart and the person who shares her wonderful experiences in life. The wonders of make up won't help cover all the signs of aging, but still the heart of a woman which makes her a beautiful person.

    You are still beautiful and stay simple.

    What's your brand of lipstick? Haha.


  15. I would hardly say that you are an old woman, nor would I say that you are no longer beautiful.
    I started to dye my hair when I was in high school, I never really saw my natural color until I finally said, "Enough". Well by that time, I was gray! It took me a long time to get used to that fact, it still surprises me when I look in the mirror...oh well!...that's me!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog.
    Sunny :)

  16. You were beautiful then and you are beautiful now. Just because we age doesn't mean we are no longer beautiful.

    I am a fair skinned blonde so I do wear mascara so it looks like I have eyes,lol. My choice to not wear a lot of makeup came years ago when my dermatologist told me that it was the cause of my skin problems.

    In answer to your question, loved Babylon 5 but never could get into the new BSG. I'm also a fan of Dr. Who.


  17. One of the most freeing days in my life was when I went to hear Dorothy McClain, one of Findhorn's founders, speak. Standing before a large crowd, this internationally known speaker appeared without any masks of died hair, make-up or fashionable garb. If she can do it, I can, I figured.
    At the age of 38 I stopped coloring my hair. It grew in sprinkled with gray and I was asked where I had my hair streaked.
    Though I wore make-up for many years, on occasions, I've never succeeded in being made-up. I'd end up leaving home with mascara on only one eye, or all eyes and no lips, or the reverse. Mostly I just forgot about it except for public speaking or parties.
    By the time was in my 50's I hadn't bought any make-up in several years. At my current age of 68 years, 10 months, I still have some make-up that I purchased in my early 40's. Sometime in the intervening years I was going to buy some until when I learned the price I walked away.
    My mother, at 92 years young, and my older sister remain religious in their dedication to colored hair and make-up.
    I don't remember when I last put on make-up. So why do I still have it?
    Just in case.

  18. Looks like you hit on something here, by all the responses.

    You were definitely a BABE, and you are definitely a Beautiful Mature Woman now. I admire you for going cold turkey with the make-up. I haven't done it yet. Funny, I never wore makeup or colored my hair until I was in my forties! Now I don't want to face that old lady in the mirror, not quite yet.
    Silly, because some of my best recent photos are plain-faced with roots showing.

    Lead us on, o brave one!

  19. P.S. My mom wore scarves like that, and we did too, when we were growing up. So cute, keeps your hair out of your eyes and the sun from cooking your brain...

  20. Hi DJan,

    Thanks so much for dropping by. I had to track you back and am so glad I did. I like you. You're real and straight forward.

    These days I take my face out plain and made-up. Most days it's plain. And it's freeing! I always wear make-up to church or to an evening out. It makes me feel more attractive. But I, like you, have come to embrace my invisiblity. I always say I could rob a bank and no one would remember me! :) I used to feel my face was all I had. My sister once opined that she'd rather be on a desert island without her clothes than without her make-up. But she was 17. I would have felt the same way then. My husband couldn't care less either way. I'm very lucky.

    You AMAZE me with all your jumps! Wow. Now your jumping face? That's a face I'd LOVE to see.

    I'm very sorry for the loss of your son. I can't imagine. Truly.

  21. P.S. I tried to follow you but the Google follow gadget must be down temporarily. It won't go through. I'll be back and will sign up then. I have to read more. :)

  22. I wanted to thank you, both for following and for your extremely kind comments.

  23. A wonderful, and honest post.
    You were indeed abeautiful young lady and mother, I can still see much of the beauty.
    I commend you not wearing makeup, I can't wait for the day, to just throw it all in the trash, and never again, waste my morning applying the stuff.
    I'm so sorry to learn you have lost your son, though I would imagine he is still with you every single day.
    Makes one think what's important in this life.

  24. hmmm, well now, let me see - you have great bone structure and a wonderful smile, that is enough for beauty. Beauty comes from within of couse :) For myself, I use as much makeup as I can get! I love lipstick and mascara and I use a coloured foundation, which is not all concealing. It just gives me a little more colour than I would have normally. I colour my hair and wear it up and down depending on the windy weather.
    I loved the picture of you with your son. I'm glad you've still got that to look at.
    Blessings, Star

  25. Reading all these comments makes me feel a little guilty, like maybe I'm eavesdropping on my sister's meetings with all the members of her new women's group. ;-)

    You're all beautiful, with or without make-up, and don't any of you ever forget it. I just happen to have decades of experience as an avid admirer of women, so I know from whence I speak!

    My wife's face (even after a quarter century of marriage) is the prettiest picture I've ever seen, and while she knows how to apply make-up in such as way that I never really notice anything except how pretty she is, I also know the make-up is just a slight and subtle framing of the real beauty that can never be wiped away.

    Jan, you're so beautiful in every way. A pretty and genuine smile, lively and friendly eyes framed by pretty glasses, beautiful windblown hair that helps to reveal your free spirit, and a heart that shines through it all. I simply can't look at that picture of the "old" you without smiling back. In my opinion, make-up is completely superfluous and unnecessary (except when you happen to feel like you want to wear it).

  26. DJan: When you write and you comment, you are very much still a beautiful young woman. And your "old" picture? Still beautiful. It is just another version of you. Not better, not worse...just now. Which is beautiful.

    The makeup thing is something I struggle with every day. I have begun to wear less, but sometimes people ask me if I am ill when I don't wear it. I hope to someday have the courage to do as you have and stop wearing it altogether. Right now...when I don't wear at least some, I feel like I look worn out and very, very tired. (It doesn't help when people tell me I look tired when I don't have it on, either). ha
    Maybe I will just stop one thing at a time and start eliminating it that way?? I am sure I will feel much, much more free without it...

  27. I love this post.
    I have started to feel the shift as people no longer seem to look at ME the way they once did and in one way it does bother me but also for the first time in my life I'm feeling that when someone really does listen they are listening to me and what I have to say not actually just paying attention because of physical beauty ...and THAT I rather kind of like.
    I too wear little makeup if any and personally I think women look better that way. Natural beauty is a very good thing.

  28. I have never been one much for makeup. Maybe a little something around the eyes and a gloss in winter to protect the lips, so discarding makeup would never be much for me. My age is older, but I am more full of life than I have ever been. I do care about aging mostly because I "feel" it. My muscles tell me I am getting older every morning when I wake. But the rest of what you say I am not sure I agree with. I have many younger friends... as I am sure you do... look at your life! So active and full. When I communicate with people there is a more truthful connection. They are listening to me and enjoying my company. I feel more fulfilled now than I ever did. I expected to be wiser, but I am still making mistakes.. and regretting them... mostly things I say...LOL. I enjoy the freedom my age allows me. Just like the poem. Now when I get even older... how will I feel? I hope not wanting to die like my mother tells me everytime I talk to her. Great post... very thought provoking.


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