Wrinkle Positivity

Lynn, Helen, Jill

Recently I have been following the “body positivity” movement on blogs and Instagram.  Women who are larger than those depicted in the main stream media (i.e. most of us) are demanding that they be recognized not only as normal, but also as beautiful.  These demands have resulted in real changes in the independent sewing pattern industry.  Some brands, like Cashmerette, were founded to fit a larger size range.  Other brands, including Helen’s Closet, Liesl and Co., Scroop Patterns, and others, are expanding their size range to fit more people.

Inspired by all these women celebrating how they look, I’m wondering if I can’t do the same with my wrinkles.  As you can see in my photo above on the left, I have a lot of them.  My sister, on the right, has far fewer.  She is a true red head and has used sun screen all her life, which may account for the difference.  Our mother, in the middle, has a face full of wrinkles.  Clearly I take after her.

Although I’m sad to admit it, I’m ashamed of my wrinkles. They make me think that I should have taken better care of my skin in my youth.  I’m not willing to undertake drastic measures like surgery, but I do invest a lot of money in skin care potions.  None has made me look like my sister.

But maybe a better solution is just to accept my wrinkles as a sign of aging.  I am old—closing up on seventy—and being old shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of. 

A recent New Yorker article by Allan Gopnik, “Younger Longer,” stopped me in my tracks.  He asserts that few people buy or use products that label them as “old.” The most dramatic example is the personal emergency button that you can buy to alert services when you fall.  Only 4% of older people in the US buy one; in Germany one study found that over 80% of those who had such a button didn’t use it when they fell.  “In other words, many older people would sooner thrash on the floor in distress than press a button—one that may summon assistance but whose real impact is to admit, I am old.” (The New Yorker, May 20, 2019, 37)

Growing old is a privilege not granted to everyone.  Can I change my mind to see my wrinkles–the result of a life spent laughing, frowning, smiling, and crying–as a mark of that privilege? 

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7 Responses to Wrinkle Positivity

  1. JS says:

    First, I don’t think you have many wrinkles. Physical aging results from a mix of genetic heritage, self-care, and other events. I don’t have many wrinkles, but enjoy other signs of aging, like mini-jowls and weight gain. I don’t like them.

    At this point, I’m sick of the American self-help philosophy shot through everything. I am doing my best to accept them, but I don’t feel guilty about not loving my body or signs of aging. Why should I? Aging usually reflects a gradual diminishment that leads to death, and in our culture, we don’t celebrate aging or death.

    BTW, it’s “Adam Gopnik.” I can’t access the article because I already read my three free articles for the month. Maybe next month.


  2. I dont think you have wrinkles but I often think we are all guilty of focusing on tiny imperfections and concentrating on these. For me I am probably most conscious of my rosecea which only got awful in my 40s, followed by my grey hair.. I only ditched dye as I could no longer keep up with root maintenance and I figured I cant turn back time, I had better fully own the time I was at, but then again I am rather slow to do some hip exercises the physio gave me at christmas to future proof my joints!

    Wonderful link to that article – really food for thought. I know my own mother in law refused to use a walking stick for a long time as she saw it as ‘giving in’ where really by not using one, she was getting out less, and yet I can fully understand the dilemma she was at.

  3. Val says:

    You don’t look that wrinkly to me, even your mother isn’t incredibly wrinkled – maybe it’s the way you’re perceiving it in yourself and your family? I don’t have a huge amount (yet!) but my way of coming to terms with my wrinkles (and I’m in my late sixties, too) is to see them as something artistic and sculptural and just accept them as my body changing – it has always changed. And I’ve been studying my hands particularly since I was a small child, when I’d notice my mum’s wrinled hands as she got older – I always marvelled that she could ‘feel’ anything with those hands, not realising of course that it’s more appearance than change of functionality! (We’ve a little less sensation as we age, but not so much that it has to make things impossible!)

  4. I think the three of you look just lovely and likeable! A woman in her sixties, who hasn’t got any laugh lines, is propably not to be envied. That being said I am now still in my forties and of course don’t love the signs of having born and fed two children and generally getting older. I guess it’s just the big challenge of getting to terms with the fact, that our lives and beauty and everything on earth is finite (if that’s the right word in english). Don’t you think?

  5. Vireya says:

    A face with real lines always looks better to me than the celebrity “stretched out” surgery face which is so common. I would far rather see that someone has laughed and cried and lived, than that they have have tried to erase all that to look “young” (when all they really look is desperate).

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