Thursday, 17 September 2015

Part Three - Resurrecting the Crone

The Mirror of Mortality?

Why does ‘beauty’ even have to relate to age or be in the same sentence as it? Why would someone who successfully defies age, be hailed a star or be amazing and fabulous? If Mirren lived a ‘face-naked’ life, would she still be the new face of L'Oreal? 

As his daughter, I (and my Grey hair) had brazenly held the mortality card up to my octogenarian Pops, clearly making him uncomfortable. What also impacts the dynamic is that I come from a ridiculously ‘Peter Pan’ gene pool. Both my parents look wonderfully child like in their old age and it’s my inheritance too. Does it seem churlish then for me to challenge the ‘visible-youth’ card in my deck? Why would I do that when I can get away with (like running from a heist!) looking so much younger?

Because I was dealing with my own complex feelings I hadn’t stopped to consider what my Dad was going through or how he was projecting a desire for his youngest daughter to remain the perfect (and very youthful) little Asian girl with Blue/Black hair so he could remain the younger, proud parent. At the same time she was projecting back her desire to not only ‘ancestrally’ break that tradition right there in his face but dare to visibly grow old and have him witness the transition. This was rich material to work with and worth a good chew; still chewing!

Even more recently, the same scenario happened with a cousin of mine who is my age and dyes her waist length hair blonde. I caught her doing the hairline stare and gently challenged what she was seeing. She said I was brave to go Grey and she would never dream of not being blonde. Was I holding an age card up to her too or was this merely vanity at play? Where, in societal history, is the shame of a woman going Grey located? In my own community, where is the Crone – where is that female elder wisdom? Perhaps I am on the wrong continent.

The Sanitised Grey

While Grey hair is ubiquitously and universally accepted as the ‘sexy’ part of growing ‘mature’ in a man, it simply isn’t the same for a woman (with the exception of Grey models who are still somewhat ‘sexed up’ for the media’s salacious palette). I also see a growing trend of celebrities actually dying their hair shades of ‘Silver’ and I’m not even going there with that one!

The projection of another’s refusal to see age for what it really is, rather than a sanitised, ‘age defying’ version, (perfectly characterised by Helen Mirren) is a filtering lens so thick it prevents us from truly ‘seeing’ one another. This filtering lens rises up in front of us like a powerful blocking hand, enabling us to only see our values, perceptions, fears and beliefs mirrored right back at us. The projecting hand belongs to us and we must own it to truly enter adult state; to truly accept one another, warts and all.

Why does ‘beauty’ even have to relate to age or be in the same sentence as it? Why would someone, who successfully defies age, be hailed a star or be amazing and fabulous? If Mirren lived a ‘face-naked’ life, would she still be the new face of L’Oreal?

Must we be visually appealing in order to be accepted? Don’t get me wrong, this is a fabulous look and I have no problem at all with looking glam when the mood takes me.  What I have a problem with is how society equates artificially enhanced beauty with success. What I’m confused by is how this paradigm is leaving me without a mature female role model. What I’m concerned about are the depths of narcissism our society appears to have plummeted into. I do not want to give a sweet-toffee-apple for whatever look I am promoting aged 70 and a headline supporting this photo names Mirren as a ‘Vixen’; WTF! The thought of preening, plumping and painting myself as first priority of my maturing year’s leaves me in wonder, standing with head tilted, eyebrow quizzically raised as I ponder the importance we have placed upon beauty.

When we look into each other’s eyes and listen to one another’s voice, who gives a crap what we look like?


It’s now September 2015. All the faded/fake Auburn/Chocolate hair is gone and all that remains is a dull Black canvas, sharply cut and glinting with Silver and Grey. After almost 2 years, I see a new me; a new me who evoked an emotional response in the hairdressers chair; a new me who also evoked a response in a dear friend of mine who said “I can see you now” as he bravely allowed one tear through.

It feels like this (more truthful) version of me has been trying to get out for a while now and I have been guilty of suppressing her. For the first time ever my son said to me “Now you look like my Mum.”

Boom! What do you do with such a simple yet stunningly complex sentence as that?

You accept it, without judgment. You grow into it. You allow it to become present as you surrender to its grace, strength and rarefied beauty. You are not your ancestors, you have no moral obligation to defy age and stay young. You have no mission to fulfil society’s narcissistic desire.

Bumping into an old friend recently who said with great enthusiasm, “wow, I love your hair, it looks stunning” and feeling awkward about it. What was this feeling? Why did I not revel in the acknowledgment? Not sure but definitely aware of some strands of resistance still kicking around. What’s wrong with a genuinely expressed compliment Chrissy?

I’ve so enjoyed writing these articles and to all who have been reading as I’ve been writing, a huge thank you for your wisdom, love and constructive feedback. Keeping the story small and personal has helped keep this encounter manageable and I say that because there’s so much more I want to write on the subject. I still have burning questions around where the ancient feminine got lost along the way and I’ll have to re-read my dog eared copy of Eros Denied to retrace her steps so that maybe one day I can give new voice to an old story as I help resurrect the Crone in my little part of the world.

I still have questions around the mirror of mortality and an inner whisper suggesting this isn’t just about age. The rejection of the feminine isn’t just about age or mortality; I sense it could be about self love and self acceptance; two ingredients in the world that are in chronically short supply.

When asked the other day how I would define love, I responded with “for me, love is being able to look myself in the eyes without flinching or finding an excuse to walk away and to melt into the experience; for me love is all about self love; the rest is illusion; the rest is projection.”

I’m not naive enough to believe there is ever an ‘arrival’ point; there’s just an infinite transition into richer, deeper levels of (self) love, wisdom, truth and power. There’s just infinite expression of self and, whoever that ‘self’ is, please make sure it’s the one you chose.


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