I have a relative who spent a majority of his time alone watching television. He ventured out to a mall one evening and told us he was astonished by how ugly everyone was. After hours of staring at the very unrepresentative world of “celebrity,” “personality,” and “reality television,” his perception of the actual world was warped. He truly believed that ordinary people were ugly, rather than ordinary.
The same thing happens to women my age(69) who are flooded with images of photoshopped women in their 40’s agonizing over lines on their faces. The only images I do see of women my age are botoxed, face-lifted AND photoshopped. It ends up warping my own sense of what women really look like as they age.
The picture is of my great grandmother Jenny at age 60. Her hair is gray and white, her figure is ample, her chin is beginning to sprout another chin. But what I see in this picture is a confident, loving mother of four at home in her very appropriately padded body, her bosom on its gradual way south, as all of ours drift in due time. She looks welcoming, reliable and wise. That’s a helpful image of an older woman.
Until the culture catches up with the reality of the loveliness of real women, I will treasure the photos of my ancestors and the warm, lined faces of the women who surround me at Mass every Sunday.