“Permanence, however, is not one of beauty’s more obvious attributes”. This is one of my most favorite quotes by Susan Sontag in her essay, An Argument About Beauty.
I love this line because it seems to gives us a hard, obvious, truth – Beauty Fades. We know for sure that our looks will change as we get older and as time etches its way over our faces. We can say definitively that how we appear in our 30′s will be quite different from how we do in our 50′s. The physical body will morph several times over through out the years.
I admit, I’m that woman who looks in the mirror at the end of each day and I compare – my face at that moment (tired) and how I remember it to have looked in the morning (glowing). Today vs last year. Post vs pre babies. And then for the grand finale, I take out a picture of my mom at my current age and hold it up to the mirror – studying her face next to my own. And then I think, “Shit, she looked way younger than I do at this age. Oh Gawd, time won’t be as gentle on me.”
I’m 42, but I flash ahead in a panic to my late 60′s and I think for a moment about how my skin will look when my grand children will know me. I bet I’ll have deep lines around my mouth, thinned hair, eyes that confirm all these sleepless nights, and work, work, work weighted on rounded shoulders. I’ll most certainly look my age.
Of course I hope to defy the probable, and get lucky like my mom. She was a gorgeous young woman with an untouched beauty. Never much make-up. Always a red lip and an etched eyebrow. Loosely blown out hair. Nothing more.
Today, at 65 she’s aged, in the most gentle way, and exactly as we would have guessed. She looks fulfilled, happy and loving – stunning. That’s how her beauty translates.
Then I think back to the quote, “Permanence is not one of beauty’s more obvious attributes”. I try to understand it a bit differently. Maybe Sontag is telling us that beauty IS permanent. Like, as in EVERLASTING. Maybe the beauty we should be talking about is more obscure and harder to define, but with a permanence similar to the most stunning sunset. A beauty that begins first as an emotion and is housed deep with in – can become our most crazy-lovely power.
Although I’m a mere 42, I do think about aging. I think: I’d like to be that woman who wears her ‘way’ on her face.