Saturday, June 8, 2013

Looking Good

Fabulous Sandals (photo by Sherry)
I was in a local art store today and ran into a couple that I haven't seen since the 90's. I spotted them first and introduced myself. The husband told me that he didn't recognize me because I look so young.  Both of them agreed that I looked younger than I did the last time they saw me. That means, according to their enthusiastic assessment, I look younger now than I did over 15 years ago.

Is it the hair, the expensive face creams I buy at Ulta, or the fabulous sandals with pedicure? I suspect it was the lighting in the store. Whatever the case, the encounter has me thinking.

First, it has never been my goal to look any particular age, especially younger than I am. I am very comfortable owning all of my 54 years. I have graying hair at my temples and I can already tell my aging, thinning hair will not come in snowy white, like billowing waves. I am fine with that. I have lines around my eyes and mouth and my chin(s) sags. It's the price of smiling daily (except for the chin). So, to be told I look younger is like achieving something without trying. Not bad for no work at all.

Second, I wonder if the meaning of "looking good" is to look younger? A youthful look is certainly what women are encouraged to strive for in this society, to the point of surgical modification. But is that all there is to looking good? I like looking at faces, and I have found "looking good" at all ages. I especially like men and women who have "grown" into their faces, faces that never quite fit on a child's body. I like the look of deep lines brought on by a lifetime of work outside and the powdered cheeks of a grandmother who still uses the same brand of makeup that she did when she was 40. I think "salt and pepper" hair looks as good as the tangled, springy mane of youth.

The third thing I'm thinking about has to do with self-awareness. When I look people over (and I do), and am looking for things like the amount of energy in their posture, the mood in their eyes, and what they do with their hands. I haven't considered how people are looking at me.

In fact, when I am having trouble deciding what to wear, I try to remember what everyone else I met the day before was wearing. Because I recall very little, I assume the same lack of attention applies to the clothes I choose.

I think that looking good doesn't have as much to do with how we adorn ourselves or care for our hair. The best kind of looking good is an activity; it is the way we look at others. If we "look good", we see what is important to others, where they are empty and where they are full. By looking good we see youthful hope and the experiences earned with age. And if we "look good" in this way, people who have achieved an arbritrary standard of beauty, are as striking as those who are far from it. People are lovely and amazing and wonderfully made when I am "looking good".

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