It’s a given. Watching your diet and exercising promotes good health, especially as you age. So how is beauty care so radically different? We work hard to take care of our insides as well as our bodies, but is paying attention to your looks such a narcissistic endeavor?
Med spa doctors and plastic surgeons get women and men of many ages through their doors. Some are trying to fix something that has bothered them, some are worried about how age is treating them, and others are just on a tear to look as gorgeous as they can be. And we enjoy addressing all of it. Some patients will not breathe a word about having come to us, as if spending money on themselves is the ultimate in self-centeredness. Many practitioners like me will admit that it’s rare their patients will even permit them to use before-and-after photos of them with their eyes blocked out and their identities hidden to show others how their treatments work. In other words, beauty care tends to be a deep, dark secret except, perhaps, between BFFs.
While I understand this need to keep beauty care private, I also don’t see the need for shame. If you remodeled parts of your house or got your car repainted it would be no big deal. How are your looks any less something you own and keep up? In reality it just makes you feel better about yourself, so how on earth is this a bad thing? In her “(R)aging with Grace” article, Beauty Care: Feeling Good About Your Looks Past Age 60 writer Dena Kouremetis gets into the meat of it. “I often hear resignation from my age 60+ peers about keeping up with beauty care, but when I think about the alternative, it just sounds unacceptable in my world of one,” says Kouremetis. “So I began looking for the advantages to beauty care past age 60 and found that it’s not uncommon to be shamed by others about wearing makeup and/or appreciating it. She quotes a psychologist who argues that activities that allow us to take care of our personal beauty needs should not be viewed as “guilty pleasures.”
We have been carefully taught to suppress our interest in our looks, especially as we age, as if aging is a lost cause. In fact as many (women, in particular) age, they stop wearing makeup or doing skin care, accepting whatever nature hands them. And that’s fine. It’s a free country. But to put down others because they enjoy trying to look fresher and younger? That’s just not right. There are no absolutes where self-esteem is at stake. When you feel great about how you look, you have a better outlook on just about everything.
Morgan Shanahan’s Babble article I Got Botox and Didn’t Tell my Husband tells the story of a woman’s guilty pleasure. While she wanted to get rid of a wild eyebrow that had bothered her all her life, she failed to tell husband, Scott, that she was going to get Botoxed. “Three days later I woke up to discover I had no movement in my forehead whatsoever. It looked pretty good, but HO-LY was it a weird experience. My first reaction was to run in to Scott and make him poke my forehead and watch me try to raise my crazy eyebrow. But I couldn’t. Because I’d lied by omission and I was in it to win it now.” She goes on to say that about 6 months later she admitted it to him at a party. “The thing is, my husband does think I’m beautiful no matter what. He also never noticed that I had frozen a quarter of my face. But now that he does know, our trust has been damaged. He can’t believe I would have gone and done something like that without telling him, and honestly … neither can I.” While Shanahan loves what the injections did for her, the penchant to keep it a secret took a toll in this case.
While self-care is now a popular topic, many women find it necessary to justify spending money on beauty. One of my clients told me that each beauty product or procedure she spent money on began to feel like a small victory after years of feeling guilty about it. She also told me that this was quickly followed by remorse and then another round of justification. When she discovered what she purchased actually worked, however, there was euphoria. This is a cycle that repeats itself, but there is no reason she should continue to suffer from it. We have one time to go around, and there is no reason to think that an investment in your looks is not a prudent one.
Kouremetis said it best: “Having dominion over my looks means have a sense of control over something. The concentration with which I apply eyeliner is unmatched and when I’m done with my going-out preparation I feel more confident to face the world.”