How Does Betty White Do It?
Aging is all about embracing life.
Published: June 19, 2012
How to wear your years proudly.
I recently saw Betty White at 89 years old, receiving a Screen Actors Guild award, and while I don’t know for sure, she doesn’t look to me as though she’s had any “work” done. Her face appears natural for her age, with lines I’m sure she earned and wears proudly. She looks like a spunky grandmother who has aged well. Old chronologically, yes, but young in the sense that she hasn’t lost her zest for life and is living it to the fullest.
I think so many people are so caught up in battling the years that they forget to enjoy them. Let’s face it: Have you ever seen a good face-lift? Not long ago, one of the women that I meet every once in a while at the gym had her back to me as we were talking about the weather. When she turned around, I gasped. Her face was pulled so tight that she had a perpetual smile, similar to the Joker in Batman.
“Wow.” That was all I could say.
“Don’t I look great?” she asked. Then she dropped the bomb: “I’d be happy to give you my doctor’s number. He is a miracle worker.”
Was I insulted? No. Would I call him? No way. I’d rather see him turn water into wine than work on my face. I just smiled and nodded in response. I couldn’t understand what she saw when she looked in the mirror. Sure, her wrinkles were gone, but I thought she’d lost all the character in her that those lines represented. She didn’t seem real anymore.
Come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone I know who’s had plastic surgery and does look better. And the movie stars I’ve seen? Suffice it to say that there’s no proof there. If these people who have money for the best end up looking like they’re wearing some kind of Mardi Gras mask, what hope is there for us mere mortals?
I may sound like I’m being too judgmental about this, and I do understand that there can be a real need for this type of surgery. If a little nip here and a little tuck there makes a woman feel better about herself, I’m all for it. What I don’t understand is the compulsion to change over and over again in an attempt to create something that just doesn’t exist. In those cases, I think it’s all about a woman’s definition of perfection, holding herself up to an image that’s impossible to achieve, and, most important, what she sees when she looks at herself in the mirror.
I discovered that I believe aging gracefully is an art not defined by face wrinkles and a chronological number. I’m embracing this part of my life with the creaky joints and, yes, those 11s on my face.
I’ll wear my years proudly. I refuse to be defined by a society that focuses on looking young at all costs. I have no intention of making an appointment with a plastic surgeon to have my face frozen, lips plumped, or anything lifted up or sucked out. My wrinkles are my badge of courage. They represent where I’ve been and I am taking them with me in this next part of my life.
What’s the diagnosis? My breasts sag, my fanny has fallen, my tummy goes out instead of in, and my cellulite . . . well, let’s just say that I’d have to buy the cream by the barrel to tighten it up. Yet all of these well-earned life-road marks are part of who I am. With the physical aging comes emotional, mental, and spiritual aging as well; and I like how far I’ve come in those respects. I’ve learned more and more each year, and I’m proud that I’m always up for trying something new.
On my last birthday, I actually bought myself a bright pink Vespa. Contrary to my husband’s ominous predictions, I haven’t killed myself on it by wrapping my bod around one of the island’s palm trees. I use it whenever I’m living in Florida. I enjoy the freedom, and although I wear a helmet that practically covers my entire body when I hit the gas, I enjoy the feeling of flying. I’m certainly not worried about wind damage to my face.
I’m soon going to be taking lessons to learn to paddleboard. My family members have all assured me that there’s no way they can envision me peacefully paddling around the island’s calm waters, but I’m determined; and when I’m determined, I can accomplish anything.
I’m grateful that I’ve been blessed to be on this planet at this time in history and have witnessed all that I have. I invite you to look at your life and all that you have to be proud of and grateful for. Remember that on the day you were born, you brought your unique and special light to this world and, as Mark Twain is reported to have said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Susan Dintino is an author, motivational speaker and radio-show host who embraces the opportunity to reach out to a multitude of people in a way that blends humour with the life lessons she's learned along the way.