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My birthday is next month so I guess I better get used to saying my new age…fo, for, forty…..seven. I actually had to do the math to make sure that was the right number! I sailed through turning 40 but I have to admit, this one is needling me. Mainly because the effects of aging are starting to show up. Seeing my skin change and finding gray hair everywhere is unnerving. I seem to need to add tweezer time to my schedule.

I would put myself somewhere in the middle of the vanity continuum. Nothing about my body has EVER been close to perfect. I was the fat kid in elementary school and no one let me forget it. I got to an average weight in high school but nowhere near the skinny-minis that ran the place. I have gained and lost the same 30 pounds 15 times in my life. I'm lucky to have pretty good skin but that's probably because over the years I often felt too fat in a swimsuit to be out soaking up the sun.

In today's world the notion of "growing old gracefully" or "beauty comes from within" seem to be nothing more than pithy metaphors. Women have always measured themselves against unrealistically airbrushed magazine models but reality television has taken it to a whole other level. Shows featuring women that are sucked, tucked and reduxed and are willing to show their procedures being performed only add to glamorizing the pursuit of eternal youth. It's not just in the media that this occurs. It's in our own backyard; it's our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. punishing their bodies to look and feel better about aging.

Botox came on the market in 1989 during the height of the 80's-90's "we need to have it all" excess and quickly became a billion dollar business. A magazine ad for Botox promises "noticeable results whether it's your first time or you've stopped counting. Results may vary as Botox can cause serious side effects such as problems swallowing, speaking or breathing, due to weakening of associated muscles, can be severe and result in loss of life." This is followed by two full pages of potential side effects. Is there really a question as to whether this is a good idea?? Have we not learned anything from the last decade like we can't have everything, we really don't need everything and the concept of a "perfect" life is an illusion. How does injecting botulism into your face, cutting on and inserting foreign objects into your body that change the appearance of who you really are have anything to do with today's mantra of being organic and going green? Plus, so much time and money spent on vanity doesn't leave much left over for outside of ourself pursuits.

I'm concerned and sad that my fellow sisterhood doesn't feel it's okay to come as they are. Don't get me wrong, I like to look nice. I color my hair "back to natural," get my nails done, try to exercise and eat right because I'd like to be thinner and care about trying to dress fashionably. I still fight against the feeling that a lot of women are doing it much better than I am. How did this become so out of control? And I wonder what men think? I've asked a few — some said they like tight faces, fannys and augmented boobs. Most said they don't want to hug a stick figure and like the feel of the real thing. Maybe when men tell us that they like our bodies the way they are and don't care what we wear or whether we have make-up on, we should LISTEN and stop badgering the poor guys to validate us.

The saying "beauty is only skin deep" means to me that true beauty resides underneath your face and your boobs. It's in your mind, your heart and your soul. Let it shine Sister!

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