Another War No Woman Can Win

by Chloe Jeffreys · 13 comments

in Aging Well

Slide 5I love irony, specifically this definition by Mirriam-Webster, “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.” Except irony is only amusing if you are in on the joke.

See, last week, I received a little known beauty treatment known as “hand rejuvenation,” courtesy of Radiesse by Merz Aesthetics and Dr. Andrea Hui of Bay Area Cosmetic Dermatology.

I was and am under no obligation to write about this treatment. All opinions in this post, just like every other post I write, are my own, Lord help me—but I am happy with the results and I think my readers would be interested.

Leave it to irony then that I’m sitting here with this post to write about a cosmetic procedure while yesterday’s social media pandemonium was over Renee Zellweger’s new appearance. It seemed that every online news outlet carried the same screaming headline:

What the Hell Happened to Renee Zellweger’s face?

Pundits on every side of the beauty aisle lined up to debate Renee’s face as though she were a piece of meat.

Which is something every woman in the world wants, a picture of herself at 22 plastered all over the internet next to a picture of herself at 45 while the entire world publicly debates when she was the prettier.

Here’s me at five and then at fifty. Have at it.

five and fifty

Then Facebook and Twitter lit up with every Sally, Sue, and Sam putting in their two cents.

Here’s some quotes from FB that I read yesterday:

“She was so pretty.” [emphasis mine]

“She has not aged well.” (You are being graded. I hope you’ve studied.)

“She’s lost her unique and charming appearance.” (Ouch.)

She’s not herself anymore.” (Because a woman really is just her face.)

“Wow! Shocking. And not in a good way.” (What’s the good way for being shocked?)

“Sad. So sad that you can’t be happy with yourself. I feel sorry for her.”

Let me translate the last quote for all the men in the audience, shall I? When one woman starts calling another woman “sad” that’s womanspeak for “I’m now going to tell you how superior I am to her.” You get extra points if you can pin-point the particular emotional/psychological problem of the woman on the microscope slide, in this case Renee Zellweger’s poor self-esteem and inadequate self-image caused by all the pressure on her by Hollywood. Poor her. Oh, the irony!

The Woman Wars

Spending my entire female life watching women emotionally and socially beat the hell out of each other over breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, spanking, not spanking, attachment parenting, letting ‘em cry it out, homebirth, epidurals, working outside the home, being a fulltime homemaker, being too fat, being too thin, wearing too much make-up, being too sexy, not keeping your man happy by giving him enough sex, getting professional hair styling, donning a pious doily over long, uncut hair, spending time at the gym, not wasting time in selfish pursuits like personal fitness, marital submission, being a feminist, maintaining your hymen until your wedding night, giving away the cow for free, giving head, showing your godliness by turning your head and thinking of England, homeschooling, putting the kids in daycare, staying with him, getting a divorce–and on and on–I find myself unsurprised that ageing is the next unwinnable female competitive sport.

Like everything else under the sun that women jockey for position over, there’s no way any woman can win this competition. (Unless you’re Betty White, Meryl Streep, or Helen Mirren.)

Do anything “unnatural” (except for hair coloring, and maybe wearing Spanx, although I’ve seen women debate who is the better woman over that one, too), and you’re trying too hard. Do nothing, and you’ve let yourself go. Do anything in between and the judge from Germany might give you a 10 (most likely because he can’t tell you’ve done anything, which is the only acceptable anything to do, that which can’t be detected by the human eye), but that Russian hold-out will give you a 1 for being a sad example of 1) trying too hard or 2) letting yourself go.

It could go either way. It just depends on which position will make the woman who’s made herself the judge of another feel better about herself and her own choices in life. And regardless of what you do, or don’t, somebody somewhere will say that you aren’t ageing well. (Unless you are Betty White, Meryl Streep, or Helen Mirren.)

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Here’s the thing about The Woman Wars: WE CAN’T WIN! They are designed to make us feel bad about ourselves no matter what we do.

For example, stay home to raise your kids and a segment of the population will think you’re a lazy parasite, but go to work, and another segment will think you’re selfish and don’t love your kids. How can anyone win that?

You can’t.

And you can’t win the ageing wars either. So I suggest we all just start doing whatever makes us happy and stop looking for validation outside ourselves for the choices we make in life.

Slide 8

Nothing Replaces Good Skincare

I frequently get comments about my skin, and it is my pleasure to share with others the things I’ve learned over the years. I’ve admitted before to having some cosmetic procedures, but I cannot say often enough that nothing–no fillers, no neuromuscular blockers, no surgery—can ever replace good skincare.

NOTHING.

Good skincare starts with good nutrition, hydration, and sun protection. Cleansing products, moisturizers, and make-up are also important, and, surprisingly, price is not the best indicator of efficacy. Good skincare might also include regular facials from a skilled aestetician–which I get–and retinols–which I’ve used since I was 42.

Nipples Up; Elbows Down

I also adhere to my very own “Nipples Up; Elbows Down” philosophy which is that any products I use on my face I also use on my neck and décolletage (from the nipples up) and arms and hands (from the elbows down).

What is Hand Rejuvenation?

One of the things that happens to ageing skin over time is the loss of subcutaneous fat. This happens to our faces and necks, and also to our hands. My hands in particular are just like my mother’s and grandmother’s, thin and veiny. Washing them multiple times a day in my job as a Labor and Delivery RN hasn’t helped their appearance either.

I’ve used retinols on my hands for years, and protected them with sunscreen just like I do for my face, so I don’t have age spots on them, but I’ll admit that they’ve gotten a little, okay, a lot, Crypt Keeperish over the years.

Read any article about how to tell a woman’s age and every single article will list hands as the unmistakable tell-tale sign. Frankly, I don’t want to be defined by my age. I don’t feel old, and I’m not ready to look old, either.

But what can you do about your hands?

Well, you can get dermal fillers in your hands just like you can in your face. And when Dr. Hui suggested we do that since I’d never had it done before, I was game.

Here’s the video the nurse shot while Dr. Hui was injecting my hands with Radiesse. She slathered on lidocaine cream beforehand, so the procedure was completely painless. If I’d known this was what I was going to have done I would have had a manicure first. Oh well.

In the first few days afterwards, there was a distinctive Mickey Mouse appearance to the backs of my hands, but that has completely subsided now. My hands now look like my own, but without the prominent veins and tendons. I’m exceedingly happy with my results. And the best part? It lasts for two years, and Radiesse stimulates collagen production which will actually slow down further signs of ageing of my hands.

Idle Hands

The true importance of our hands isn’t how they look, but what work we do with them. My hands have been the first to touch hundreds of new human beings, and I’m proud of that. I’m also pretty darned happy when I look at them now, too.

my hands

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Aline September 28, 2015 at 7:58 am

Very interesting , noting that factors such as excessive sun, lack of protection throughout life , is that usually causes premature aging, when there is a caution for life , the tendency is that the signs will take longer to appear.

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Dr. Wise September 9, 2015 at 3:09 am

You can have oatmel for your breakfast or snacks. This is the easiest and cheapest way to prevent our skin form drying and having a smooth skin. Oatmel also balances uneven skin tone and for people who suffered form acne and dead skin cells.

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Barbara Torris May 20, 2015 at 2:26 pm

I loved the paragraph about all those things that women have decide what is best for their lives…sex, daycare and now aging. I even quoted you on that one. Very good article and I think realistic in it’s suggestions for what we can do to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. Thank you Chloe.

b+
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D. A. Wolf December 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I go round and round on this issue if how much to buy into aging “intervention” and how much to say fuck it all, and use the freedom of growing older to stand and speak and act fully and unapologetically in one’s power.

Our considerable female power, with our rich stores of experience, when we can harness it.

I can’t say I have any answers (though I won’t be sticking needles in my hands), but I do believe keeping the conversation front and center is crucial.

Sexism and ageism is quite the double whammy.
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Chloe Jeffreys December 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I go back and forth, too! Do nothing? Do everything? Do anything? I have no idea. I do know that getting my tattoo was a decision to never get a tummy tuck. I think I’m starting to move towards aging defiantly, but still…

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Jack November 19, 2014 at 12:45 am

Hell, every time I read a post like this it makes me thank god for being a man. It is so much easier.

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Chloe Jeffreys December 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Jack, you’ll get no argument from me about it being easier to be a man. I have agonized over some of my bodyrts while I know for a fact that my husband has never given a single solitary thought to those same parts on his own body. Biology isn’t particularly fair to the fairer sex. But I still wouldn’t trade places.
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KymberlyFunFit October 30, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I love your photo comparison between 5 and 50. Perfectly makes your point. And, yes, women get not only mixed messages, but diametrically opposed ones.
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Chloe Jeffreys December 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I so loved this comment. You definitely get what I’m saying.
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Ronni October 27, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for showing me this my lovely Chloe… My hands are starting to resemble my grandmother’s. That can’t possibly be her subtle ‘I told you so’ creeping in as I played with her vein-y nimble fingers as a little girl asking will my grand-kids play with mine do you think?
I have always looked at women’s hands as to guess their age as well. Faces (mine included) have much help fighting the years away.

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Chloe Jeffreys December 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

In a strange way, I sort of miss my veiny hands. They did remind me of my mother’s and the longer she’s gone the more I miss her. I’m not too worried though. In two years her hands will be back.
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Lisa October 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Brava.

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Chloe Jeffreys December 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Thank you!
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