On the day of my 30th birthday, something horrible happened. Something, that I would have never thought to be real. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, opening my sleepy eyes. There they were – delicate lines marking my face. MY FIRST WRINKLES.
My inner dialogue that was going on in that exact moment in my very irrational head sounded something like this:
Oh my god. Panic. Does that mean I am old now? I don’t even have kids yet … not even speaking about a steady income. Am I ugly now? Are my life years counting backwards from this day forward??? I am so screwed. No one will want me anymore.
The funny thing is, these were not even my ideas. All of them were planted into my subconsciousness by false beauty standards and a corrupt capitalistic society that aimed to destroy the relationship with my body. Just think about it – in a time where smartphones, beauty influencers and big pharmaceutic companies didn’t exist, did the people ask themselves the same questions? I highly doubt it.
A False Beauty Standard
The worst is: we are all aware of the very false beauty standards we live by. Every single day we are exposed to surreal ideals that no human on this earth can ever reach. And the worst is, we all know very well that these perfect bodies and spotless faces are not real humans. They are the product of makeup which partnered up with an editing software. We are all knowingly striving for an ideal that cannot be reached.
When we become older we are told that we should cover our wrinkles to look younger. We are persuaded to buy overpriced creams which apparently stop the ageing process. And we start to feel ashamed to tell others our real age – so we lie about it. These are the apparent solutions to the problem.
Fact is, ageing in our society is a problem. And more than that, ageing actually equals sickness.
We have no idea how far we are from the truth.
Old Age in Our Society = Sickness
What comes to your head when you think about old people? I am very sure that one of the first things has to do with sickness – a wheelchair, a walking stick, a hearing aid, thick glasses, nursing homes and the list goes on. Why is that? Why do we equate old age with illness? The answer is seemingly obvious – because old people have a lot of sicknesses and talk about it almost all the time.
Now my question is:
Do our ideas exist because our elders are sick – or are our elders sick because of our ideas?
Think about this one. We are putting our elders away in nursing homes because we have no time to take care of them – and what they need is 24/7 attention.
Old Age in Indigenous Cultures = Wisdom
In indigenous cultures, the idea of ‘sick elders’ simply doesn’t exist – and guess what, most of the old people are actually very healthy and fit. The older they get, the better life gets.
They compare a human with a tree – when you plant a tree, it’s weak and small, but once it is growing, its roots are getting stronger, it is carrying a majestic crown and giving delicious fruits and beautiful blossoms.
A higher age means your roots are stronger, you gathered experience and therefore wisdom.
That is why the elders of a tribe or village are always the centre, the master, providing guidance for the whole community. Because honestly, that is what they earned by living a long life. They are storytellers. The children of the community search for their elders to listen to the ancient stories, which carry all the wisdom of the world.
I don’t know about you, but I want to change the idea I have about age.
I want to look at myself in the mirror and admire every line, every scar and every new wrinkle – like a sign of my own wisdom.
I want to be able to go outside without putting on make-up and feel confident and beautiful in my most natural form.
I want to respect and cherish the wisdom of my elders, honouring their experience and listen to what they have to share.
I want to celebrate ageing, being grateful for all the days which have already passed and every new day yet to come.
Thank you for appreciating my art!