real life

"A sales assistant suggested I get Botox. Then my daughter called my wrinkles 'pretty'."

While lying on the floor in agony with a sore thigh muscle my daughter lay next to me, reached out, traced her fingers along my forehead and said, ‘Your wrinkles are pretty, mum’.

Of course, I furrowed my brows in confusion.

Most of the time we women fear children and their crass honesty however my daughter’s surprising words are still ringing in my ear, happily.

Wrinkles are pretty. It’s not something we women hear, is it?

Soon I will be turning 45, and like any middle-aged woman, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m just not looking that youthful anymore. In fact, my forehead looks like the top of my head got squashed thanks to the years I’ve spent furrowing my brows at pretty much everything. Now my most prominent forehead line above my brows has formed itself into a mono-brow itself. Not kidding.

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Video by MMC

I’m aware my face will never restore itself naturally to its 20-year-old flawless state either. And honestly, I wouldn’t think anything of it if it wasn’t for some people’s horrified reaction to wrinkles.

Prior to my daughter’s words, there was one day where after having applied foundation, I noticed my face looked like it had cracked. I decided to go to a local department store make-up counter in search of a foundation that wouldn’t sit in my forehead lines and accentuate them.

A very young sales assistant trying to be helpful offered me a $90.00 big brand foundation and some additional advice – “Why don’t you just get Botox?”, she said, ogling my forehead. Her own frown lines were non-existent. Then she added casually, “I’m just waiting till I turn 20 because I can’t afford it at the moment, then I’m going to start early so I don’t get any wrinkles in the first place.”

I wasn’t sure if she was selling me the foundation or Botox by then. All I could muster was a docile smile and while somewhat shocked, I handed back the very expensive foundation bottle and walked away with an “I’ll think about it, but thank you!”

Ouch.

Yes, my lines are slightly heavier than most, thanks to all those younger years baking myself under the hot Aussie sun and stupidly smoking cigarettes throughout my twenties.

In truth, though, I am actually genuinely happy to be turning 45 and I want to be able to feel the way I look rather than feel ashamed to have wrinkles at my age.

I’m kind of sick of hearing that ‘40 is the new 30’ – a message that screams at women everywhere we turn. We are encouraged to look younger, feel younger and exercise so much more than some of our ageing bodies can handle. Hence my sore thigh muscle…

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What if I don’t want to be or act like I’m in my 30’s again? What’s wrong with wanting to look and feel your actual age?

Lidija older daughter
I'm not afraid of my smile lines. Image: Supplied.

While walking through the local shops with my husband and three daughters, we noticed an unsettling rise of beauty and laser clinics predominantly targeting women. ‘LOOK YOUNGER, FEEL YOUNGER!’ their signs shout. There are now at least eight clinics (even my 12-year-old was counting) offering these services in our one centre.

It appears it’s still big business to prey on women’s insecurities and I’m choosing not to buy into it. My concern, too, is for the women who can’t afford this level of cosmetic upkeep and for those who simply want to age naturally. Wrinkles used to be seen as a natural part of ageing - now they're something to 'wipe out.'

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for taking care of yourself and your appearance and whatever makes you feel better about yourself - whether that's no makeup or a full face. You do you.

But if Botox and fillers are becoming as common as going to the hairdresser then I am really in trouble. It also makes me fear for all young girls, including my daughters and their attitudes towards ageing in the future when ageism is already a problem.

You know what though? My daughter’s words still resonate with me and will do so every day from now on. So I’m going to agree with her and say yes, my wrinkles are pretty - and yours are too. All women should be unashamedly happy about having some wrinkles, especially our smile lines, which are the greatest way to show how much we’ve laughed throughout our years.

Our pretty wrinkles are a sign that we are still living, and we should be damn happy about that.

Lidija Zmisa is a mum of three girls, wife and freelance writer. She is currently writing a book for middle-grade readers.

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