I went for what used to be my bi-yearly but is now my quarterly top up of Botox yesterday. While I sat in the chair and waited on the doctor, I thought about how normal it has become in our world for people to regularly inject lethal poison into their bodies in the interest of a smooth and youthful appearance.
I am guilty. I have been for over seven years now, from the first time I got a glimpse of what the space between my brows looked like without the worry wrinkle. Needless to say, I was pleased. I looked like a nicer person, less stressed, less angry (I wasn’t always angry, I just made that face a lot), and yes, younger. While I’ve tried to deal with the aging process as gracefully as possible, the younger part was the thing I liked the most. And, I did think I looked better without the lightning bolt shaped indentation in between my eyes.
I’ve been being looked at, even gawked at, in one way or another for a long time now. Seems like I would’ve gotten used to it, and in some ways I have. But I’m also aware of how people are picked apart when their photograph is everywhere or they’re in the spotlight in some way, and that puts a lot of pressure on a person to try to be perfect. I thought about that yesterday when I was having a needle repeatedly jabbed into my forehead and around my eyes, but I couldn’t assign my decision to fret too much over what I look like to those photographs or the spotlight alone. My looks were a huge concern way before I was ever in the public eye. When I posted a childhood photo of my sister and me just this past Monday, someone needed to comment that I, as an eight-year-old, looked “fatter than my sister did.” I thought to myself, if this rude person knew how I’d been hearing things like that all my life, and how the comments about my short legs, pale skin, and ample ass that I absorbed and that made me aware of almost every bite of food that’s gone into my body since I was about twelve years old, and how as a result of it all, I never, ever think I’m small enough, I wonder if they’d be so quick to throw around comments like that? Who can say? I suppose what that person thinks or considers is none of my business beyond the delete button. What I think is the important thing.
What I think varies from day to day, as it does for most people. I can get obsessive and unhealthy, and to be honest, I have to watch that it doesn’t become a real issue, because what I really like to watch is myself dwindle down a size or two if at all possible, whenever I can. I thought I’d be over it by now, at my age, and with such a life already lived. I thought I’d certainly have better things to think about at this stage. But when I look in the mirror, I don’t say loving things to myself. It’s so damn dumb. And it’s so hurtful.
In this heightened season of my life, when I am in the process of releasing a book and a record to the world, it’s on my mind more than ever. Do I look tired? Do I look old? Do I, God forbid because this is the worst one, look fat? We are never not susceptible, are we? We’re always, somehow, at the mercy of what others think and say about us. And we’re especially at the mercy of what we think and say about ourselves — our internal dialogue holds the most powerful words of all. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could always say the kind thing to ourselves first, before anyone else has a chance to tear us down? Trust me — if you’re putting yourself out there, someone’s gonna try to tear you down. How does one unlearn how to be unkind to oneself? To learn the reverse is so, so easy, isn’t it?
Maybe we should start an experiment: say five loving things about yourself to yourself first thing in the morning. I’ll try it — along with the intentions I write everyday, I think I should add that.
I’ll just leave that there, with a prayer for more radical acceptance, more radical kindness, and more radical love.
Happy Wednesday, Y’all.
PS — You will not be getting me away from that skin-smoothing serum anytime soon. Besides, it helps with my headaches. Truly!!