December 31, 2014

Age of Beauty

I always come across articles in fashion magazines where writers marvel at their mothers' personal style, recounting stories of how, as a child, they would rummage through their mothers' priceless furs and silks. Reading these articles, I always wished I had such stories to tell. But just yesterday, I realized I didn't have such stories not because my mother wasn't fashionable, but simply because she never showed me photos of her younger self.

In a bout of nostalgia, my mom decided to show me photos of herself from her youth. What I saw was a vibrant, beautiful young woman who had a soft spot for dressing up. Carefree maxi dresses, slouchy sweaters with colourful belts, ladylike shoes, or edgy rolled up jeans and scuffed up Keds, all topped off with a sleek bob, feline eyes (even without eye makeup!) and a bold red lip. I saw a woman who, just like me, went through an early awkward phase - big hair, large round glasses, and an insecure smile - but who grew into someone who was confident in both her brains and beauty. I found myself in the strange position of confronting my mother as a woman of my own age, and it dawned on me she too had her own dreams and ambitions, some of which were dashed, some of which came true.

Looking through her old photos, my mother got misty eyed, repeating to herself over and over how beautiful she used to be. My heart shattered because she never says that about herself now. Whenever she looks in the mirror, she is only ever wistful for her old body.

Coincidentally, just a day or two earlier, my friend had sent me a video called Sidewalk by Celia Bullwinkel. The video chronicles a woman who confronts her body as it changes with each chapter of her life. As for me, I'm still in that precarious stage where I'm learning to love who I am, but still hold certain insecurities, Like the woman in the video, there's a weird balance between beginning to have pride in who you are, and still feeling that urge to just hide from it all. But this video, along with seeing my mother's own transformation, helped me realize that our body is just what we operate in. To my mother, I want her to know she still is beautiful - beauty is not something you lose with age, but something you hold within. When I grow old and wrinkly, when my hair thins and my body becomes saggy and pear-shaped, I hope I will not look back with longing and think I was more beautiful when I was younger, but rather look back and know that the life I lived was, above all else, strikingly beautiful.

Image Source: Belelu

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