I'm being stalked by an old lady.
She has been following me for years, lurking around corners. Her reflection often appears unexpectedly in store front windows.
And sometimes when it is dark and I'm stumbling from my bed to use the bathroom, I see that crazy, old bitch staring at me from the bathroom mirror in the middle of the night.
I turn my head and gasp at the elderly fun-house mirrored version of my former youthful self.
And it's just not fair.
What began as faint, crinkly lines of character near the corners of my eyes have rapidly carved deep grooves, which dash across my forehead. No longer do tiny delicate ripples of past smiles radiate from the corners of my mouth. Now those laugh lines, which do not elicit laughter of any kind, are multiplying far from their original destination.
While I swore that I would age gracefully and not hide my evolving beauty from the world, I would be a liar if I didn't confess that the old lady staring at me in the mirror frightens me.
And so I ask: Isn't it possible to embrace my age and treat the effects of aging at the same time?
Sure on the surface this question can be answered with a resounding "Yes!" but unfortunately the battle lines have been drawn. The divide is clear and whispered judgments pass from either side.
The line between what anti-aging practices are acceptable or not is somewhat murky, and I'm often confused.
It's safe to assume that anti-wrinkle creams and hair-dye are acceptable, as are most non-surgical boosts. However, the line becomes fuzzy outside of the drugstore beauty aisle.
While I listen to the ardent arguments on both sides, I really think that for most of my friends it all boils down to affordability: If you can afford the procedure, it is acceptable.
Alas, I do not live in a neighborhood of Botox parties and plastic surgery appointments, so these treatments seem to be judged a little harsher than the rest, which confuses me.
Isn't the overall goal of any anti-aging treatment the same? Should more expensive treatments really be viewed as going too far or crossing some kind of beauty maintenance line?
I want Botox. I really do.
Sure, the idea of injecting a known toxin into my body for no other reason than my own vanity gives me pause. But only for a second or two. And then I catch a glimpse of the old lady staring back at me in the mirror, reminding me that I'm not ready to embrace her quite yet.
My complaint isn't with my calendar age: 35. I love being 35. I am more confident at 35 than I ever was at 25. Contrary to the saggy skin and squishy bottom, I'm actually healthier at 35 than I ever was at any earlier time in my life. I eat better and I am more physically active. I want Botox simply because I desire my outward appearance to mirror my real age.
So as any sensible, suburban, stay at home mother would do, I started to research Botox treatments. I read about the possible side effects: bruising, nausea and flu-like symptoms, respiratory infections, headaches, etc. None of those really concerned me as I experience most of those whenever I volunteer at my son's elementary school.
And then, I read about the cost. The average cost of Botox is between $300-$500 for the facial areas I would want done! And ... Treatments only last an average of 4 months! $900-$1500 a year for Botox!? With my first child college-bound in less than four years and two more to follow her, my Botox dreams must remain dreams.
Breaking news: Bangs are cheaper than Botox.
While I'm not ready for a short, sensible haircut yet, it is time for me to admit that long, textured bangs are my future.
In the meantime, I am looking for an artist named Basil Hallward as I'd like to have a portrait painted of me. My soul isn't worth much but I don't have a great deal more debauchery left in me, so it should be a fair trade.
Which treatments are acceptable to you as you age? What are you willing to try?