Not so long ago I had some pictures taken for the business. The one we ended up using, was of a woman, about my age. The photo we used was of her laughing, head thrown back, eyes twinkling with joy, set against a bleak winter day. It was fantastic.
Before we settled on a picture the guy that took my photos came over one day and we were picking which photo to use. Once settled upon, he then uses his Photoshop magic to change the lighting a bit, and create shadows that did not exist in the original photo. It was really cool. Then he took this app that looked like an eraser and starts to take her smile lines away.
“Put those back!” I snapped.
He stopped. Likely a bit stunned. And I simply said, “Leave them. I like them.”
The reality is we chose a woman in her late 30’s early 40’s for a reason. However, I think he and I did not agree on the reason.
His idea, was to erase the hands of time so that other women will look at her, realize her age and think on some level, “How does her skin look so good? Sweet Cheeks of course!”
Aside from, as a women, being tired of being lied to with pictures, I don’t really think I knew what my idea was until that moment. But there it was plain as day. I love wrinkles. I love the story they tell. I love that every time this woman laughed too loud at a joke or cried too hard over a love not worth it, it was on her face. I loved that the joy in the birth of her babies, was in the folds of her “worry lines.” I love the way her smile lines highlighted her eyes and invited you to laugh with her. Simply, she was stunning not despite her lines, but (in part at least) because of them. Her lines are a map of where she has been. I map of who she was and what it took to become who she is. They a map that outlines the story of her life.
However, if I am honest…really honest, I don’t see my own lines that way. I see every failure in them. Every harsh word I spoke in anger. Every extra cookie (not needed ), every pound lost and put on and lost again, and again and again. I see, “you are not pretty”, “nor good enough”, “nor special.” I see mostly, “you are not worthy.” Worthy of what? You fill in the blank.
And I realized why I use “anti-aging” products. It is not to get rid of the lines of my life. No, not at all really. It is simply to get my lines to tell a different story. I use it somehow so that when you see my lines you will see in them, the time I picked up the spider and put him outside despite feeling like I would throw up from fear, the time I wanted to yell at my husband because I felt sad/angry/scared, but found the strength to share how vulnerable I was feeling, the time I got it right…every time I managed to get it right. I want you to see what a good friend I try be, and how much I love my family. I want you to see despite being imperfect, how hard I try. I want you to see my light and joy and inherent goodness. I want you to see that I am worthy. Worthy of what? You fill in the blank.
And there it is. Please, please evening primrose… make me worthy.
So we kept her wrinkles. Because it was honest, and honestly beautiful. And she was worthy. We are all worthy.
And the next time I looked in the mirror and felt the surge of disappointment in my lines. I felt the shame of “not good enough.” I looked a little deeper. And I realized that my lines might very well tell the truth of my imperfection, but they also tell the truth of my moments of perfection.
And the moments of my worthiness.