When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
~Shakespeare, sonnet II
Shakespeare captured it and I hear it all the time, negative feedback from women patients during our cosmetic consultations. As we’re deciding what it is that we might want to improve, I almost always tell the patient that she is beautiful. They often say, with disdain: “I hear you tell everyone that.”
They are, for the most part, right. I find the traits that I like in a woman, regardless of her age, and try to build on them, while subtracting the changes that may have occurred because of stress, genetics, illness, and, the passage of time. There is a lot to love. I do tell most everyone that. And sincerely.
Beautiful, young women are granted a pass. They enjoy privileges well beyond the attention of men. They walk into a room and the energy changes. Doors open to them—double takes—other women, older, or less attractive, may hate them–and everyone know it. No one thinks about their intelligence. Only their looks.
But the day comes when it no longer happens. Doors aren’t held open anymore, no one pauses to look, they get asked if they are the grandmother and not the mother, and suddenly, what they have come to expect—attention—is no longer there, despite the fact that what they see in the mirror still feels vital and attractive. Or else, it doesn’t, and it feels like it’s too late.
That’s often when they show up in the office. For me, I recognize the beauty—the beauty that once was, the ephemerality of the beauty, and the beauty that still remains. They still have a pass with me. I recognize that fallen energy.
Most problems related to aging are resurrectable. But, you need to be able to see the beauty that is (and was there) in order to recreate, refine and redefine it.
Time undoes what we had—it is ruthless and inescapable. But it is wonderful to understand how to reverse the hand of time. But first you need to see the beauty that once was. That’s the beginning of every cosmetic consultation.