Photoshop, anyone?

This past Christmas, my Aunt (who is in her early 60’s) posted a funny status update to her Facebook about whether or not it was ethical to photoshop her Christmas card picture….you know, soften the wrinkles, delete a few frown lines. Most of her friends responded along the lines of “Of course not!” and “Models do it, why not the rest of us?”. I didn’t think much else of it, until I was standing in front of my digital picture frame a few days ago. I was probably supposed to be doing laundry, cleaning toilets, organizing the pantry, writing thank you notes, or weeding (which is why I was caught zoning out in front of the digital picture frame).

Watching images of our lives in random order, I noticed a pattern. I looked pretty much the same for years, especially when my kids were young. No drastic changes in hairstyle (except for a few unfortunate “haircoloring at home” episodes), the same basic mom uniform of jeans and a sweater, the same smile.

And then it happened. Somewhere between the summer of 2007 and Christmas 2009, I aged. Not in a creepy fast-forward sort of way, but it just caught up with me. The furrow between my brows is deep, and no matter how much I relax my face it won’t go away. The skin under my eyes is all of a sudden looser and hanging, rather than taut. My skin tone resembles the color of old rice left on the counter too long….somewhat pale with a hint of yellow. The so-called “whites” of my eyes are not a shade found on the color wheel anywhere near white. I am not any thinner than I have been, yet my skin seems to cling to my skeleton like Saran-wrap on the Thanksgiving turkey carcass. When did this middle-aged woman take over my 25 year-old body, anyway?

So, although it may be unethical, tacky, or just plain self-serving, I am thinking that photoshop may have a place in my future. Lines and wrinkles, be gone! Gray roots? Color them in! Now, if only the wardrobe problem were as easy to solve….

Style, or lack of

I checked out a book from the public library the other day, The Grown-up Girl’s Guide to Style, and now my whole summer wardrobe has been called into question. According to the author, Christine Schwab, once I hit my forties I should have given up on anything sleeveless, never wear shorts of any kind (cropped pants should be my new “shorts”), and should only wear a swimsuit when actually swimming. She makes an exception for Katie Couric’s legs and Sheryl Crow’s arms, which doesn’t help me at all! I am now 5 years into making all of these fashion mistakes. Who knew?

What ever happened to dressing for yourself? Being comfortable in the blazing heat of summer? Where I live, in Northern California, we have days as hot as 115 or higher. Even in a air conditioned house, shorts and sleeveless tops stop being fashion statements and become mandatory. Swimsuits are, in name at least, made for swimming. But what about lounging around on the beach, watching the surf but not jumping in it? Hanging around on a friend’s boat? A few years ago, we went on a week-long houseboating trip to Lake Powell. It is safe to say that everyone on that boat wore swimsuits 24/7. According to these style rules, a light long-sleeved shirt and capri pants will be stylish for summer and prevent the general public from losing their lunch.

Now with summer practically around the corner, I am feeling confused. Do I stick with what I am comfortable in, or start to cover up more? If I feel comfortable and my husband isn’t embarrassed, are shorts still an option? Is it really my job to make sure that other people don’t see anything less than a perfect body? I think most of us are critical enough of our own bodies without having to add this new layer of thought.

Legs? Our older legs sport baggy knees that the general public doesn’t want to see, along with spider veins and bruises. Arms? Even the most fit and trim arms get flappy as we get older. If your arms keep waving when your hand has stopped, you know what I mean. I have been lucky enough to have a fast metabolism and a flat belly up to now, but I know from older friends this won’t last much longer.

Summer will come, and sleeveless tops, swimsuits, and shorts will once again come out of hiding at my house….and I don’t plan to let them go just yet! Maybe I am in denial, maybe it’s a bit of a revolt. My best critic is my middle-school daughter. I have absolutely nothing in my closet that she wants to wear, so that MUST mean I am doing something right……