Poems, photos, rants and raves that are all inevitably me in one form or another.
"It can cause substantial distress to look in the mirror and see an ageing body, especially if they have very visible conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or an obvious skin condition, for example, yet in the UK we can be very dismissive of what is often construed as vanity… It is a myth that older people don’t care what they look like: the ‘normal’ signs of ageing can prove very depressing and many people find it hard to see themselves in a positive light when they see a wrinkled face and a sagging body looking back in the mirror. We are now at a point where there is a social stigma around the effects of the natural ageing process, and this can lead to very low self-esteem and the classic signs of body dysmorphic disorder."This makes me so sad, because I definitely see those qualities in my mom. There’s been points where she has literally been on the verge of tears after looking at herself in the mirror or in a picture, and says so many disparaging things about herself on a consistent basis. She is constantly on diets (has been for probably the last 40 years) and never feels good about herself. Ironically, she always chastises me for many of the same characteristics, and the same deep depression I feel at not feeling remotely attractive. Perhaps because she wants to save me from harboring those feelings, as she has?At any rate, I think this article brings up an excellent point— we expect that older people do not care about the way they look; that they cross an age threshold and suddenly, as their “looks disappear” so does their concern about it. While this may be true in some respects—that older folks, perhaps especially married couples—have learned to let go of those thoughts that are wrapped up in the “vanity” of being younger, it must be incredibly difficult to see your body change—to sag, to droop, to become essentially invisible in the eyes of society.
I don’t blame my mom at all for having low self-esteem, although I think in her case it’s something that started in childhood and never went away. And I would never, ever blame her for all the problems I have, but one has to wonder—that low self-esteem sets a precedent for how to feel about oneself, one I must have gleaned from her through childhood (a reason I am determined to make strides in my own self-image before ever reproducing, but that’s another post for another time).