The other day I was photographing a group of women and working on their individual portraits before doing the group shot. The woman in front of my lens at the moment had beautiful, silvery hair and hip, funky glasses that gave me a peek at her personality. After a few shots with not even the glimmer of a smile, I mentioned to her that she could feel free to appear serious or give a grin or two, either way was fine. Her reply?
"Well, less wrinkles if I don't smile you know."
And that was that. She didn't smile for a single shot, convinced it would take away years from the appearance of her skin. Never mind the fact that she now resembles Oscar the grouch. Another woman from the group mentioned as they were dispersing that despite my being a great photographer, there wouldn't be a single good shot of her in the bunch.
What is with us?!?
I get a pang in my heart when women I'm photographing say things like that. It hurts because I know that deep down inside, what they're saying is "I'm not beautiful. I'm old. And I don't like being photographed because it reminds me of that."
Now you may laugh at me for what I'm about to say next. You may dismiss it as the foolish thoughts of a thin, young woman who still has smooth skin and naturally dark hair. I'm going to say it anyway. I only hope that someday I'll be graced with silver hair and wrinkles, shining proof and a road map of life well lived. In fact, I don't know if anything is as head turning as a confident woman with a crown of silver. My mother-in-law has beautiful gray hair (she wears hers short) and a co-worker keeps her gray locks long, a refreshing change among American women who typically don't seem to do long hair past a certain age.
As blogger and fellow beauty enthusiast Wanda McPhee posted, "Now I know most women won't welcome these little silver intruders with open arms. As a matter of fact, most of us at the first sighting of a few gray strands leave skid marks in the driveway in our haste to get the "Fixer" in the little bottle. L'oreal, Clairol, Garnier, whatever our favorite hair color brand is, we fix the gray pronto!"
"Well, I on the other hand have been proudly cultivating my few gray strands with joyful anticipation. I can't wait to have enough to get a little streak or something going on. Why? Because it's fabulous! I am so in love with gray hair.....but then again, I come from a genetic pool of creative, stubborn, spirited and nonconformist people so sometimes I can cook up some stuff in my head that even amazes me. To me, it is the glorious evidence that I have been blessed by God to live this long, its a silver/platinum crown, and its down right fierce!"
Kristin Davis, star of the show Sex and the City, was actually quoted as saying that she would never have plastic surgery to look younger because the wrinkles are reminders of the high points in life. As she puts it, if you didn't have any wrinkles it would mean that you had never smiled or laughed. And that's just not right. Kristin, I couldn't agree more!
We need to turn off the wrinkle cream ads, stop dousing our heads in dye, and start looking in the mirror to tell ourselves we're beautiful. Those gray hairs you're starting to see? They're amazing. Those laugh lines you always look for in photos? They're wonderful. You are a ravishing Queen in your own right and don't let anyone convince you otherwise! So smile, laugh, ham it up for the camera and know that your joy is more beautiful than boxed color or Botox could ever be.
All good wishes,
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