21 May 2009


My mother called me last night, with some news.

"I had some cosmetic surgery today," she told me.

"Oh," I replied, trying maintain a neutral tone of voice, "What did you do? "I got some Restylane injections. It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time, so I decided to treat myself."

"So, how does it look?" I asked.

"Well, it's hard to say right now, because of the bruising [WTF!!], so I haven't left the house today, but tomorrow I can cover it up with some make-up. I can't wait for you to see if you notice a difference."

My mother is a very attractive woman. She is 65, has a lovely figure, and is aging beautifully. She has beautiful skin. Strangers complement her on the loveliness of her complexion. (If I had a decent digital photo of her, this would be the place to insert it, but I don't. Sorry!) She is not a woman who needed, in the medical parlance, dermal fillers.

Although this is not an original thought, I think cosmetic surgery is a sad fraud perpetrated by the beauty, and medical industries, which preys on people with low self-esteem, to distract us from the unpleasant, unavoidable truth, that WE ALL GET OLD AND DIE.

I am a yoga teacher, and while it there is truth to the notion that happiness comes from within, it is equally true that yoga works from outside in. Appearances are important, and how we present ourselves can go along way toward making us feel better about ourselves. It was a revelation to me, during a bout of postpartum depression after the birth of my second child, when I looked at myself, unshowered and in sweatpants, and decided it perhaps if I were to make a bit more effort, I might feel somewhat better. So I started to make it a priority to clean myself up, and it helped (but not as much as the drugs). The point is, we have to work with what we've got; I am 5' 1" with a slightly large, Jewish nose; I will never be a supermodel, or an excellent basketball player.

I turned forty this year, and there was no drama in this for me. I am in pretty good shape, and have not much to complain about physically. After bearing three children, I have varicose veins that give my inner thigh an unattractive, pulpy appearance, and my breasts hang like deflated balloons. (Trust me, I wear a very good bra.) The skin on the underside of my arms is starting to get a bit...flappy. My brow is furrowed from years of squinting in the sun (I have light blue eyes, and am blinded by sunlight. I literally can not see outside on bright sunny days without sunglasses, and it wasn't cool for a kid to wear sunglasses when I was growing up. I was the one in the outfield during softball games who dropped the ball headed right toward my mitt because I couldn't see a damn thing.)

But this is life. I do not want to be any younger. In fact, the thought of my younger self pains me, because it is was more or less haze of depression. With the help of a good therapist, a loving husband, psychoactive drugs (emphasis on the drugs), and yoga, I have come to make peace with myself. The older I get, the more I understand myself, and human nature, and this brings me great comfort. I think it helps to make me a pretty good mother.

I do not look forward to dying, and I hope it will not happen for a long, long time. I have told my children that I am planning to live to be 100. And while I know that many things are beyond my control, and may not go according to my wishes, I think it's important to have goals, and this is one of mine. I would very much like to know my great-grandchildren, and hope they will find me as interesting as I am sure to find them.

If live to be my 100-year old self, I hope to still be practicing yoga. I will most likely be somewhat hunched, and wrinkled, and white haired. I will not move at the pace I do now. Ailments will plague me more frequently, and will not heal as quickly. My hearing will not be as sharp as it is now, but I hope my mind will still be lively. Between now and then, I will experience my share of pain and sadness, but I hope to continue to have the strength to sit with it when necessary, and not distract myself from these essential facts of life.

So when I heard my mother treated herself to Restylane, it made me very sad for her, and all the women who do not realize how beautiful they are, just as they are

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