Monday, December 10, 2012

Me: Plain and Simple

My original intention with The 40 Project was to check items off my list on a monthly basis and write about the experience...then the fall semester got underway, and I fell off the blog wagon.  I know speaking to fellow college instructors that this is our constant battle -- how to effectively balance teaching and be active with our own work/research/writing.

We are still looking for answers. 

What I want to focus on today is that I am continuing to go outside of my comfort zone and take part in activities that I've always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, have yet to accomplish.  Yesterday was one of those days.  When a friend of mine put a call out for actors, I jumped at the opportunity to take part in a short film project.  Even though film is one of my major areas of study, I 've never been an actor in a film.  I knew how different the process would be from my time on stage, but I never really thought about everything the process itself entailed.  And I loved it.  I loved the lights' heat on my face, the stills adding up to a final, fluid movement, the close ups.

Ah, the close ups.

There was a noticeable issue there, and it just comes with age.  For some, it's gray hair.  For others, it's complexion.  For me, it's those pockets that have formed under my eyes.  The bags.  The "try this product to reduce swelling, and then when that doesn't work, spend your money on this other product, because we guarantee that this, along with extensive Photoshopping, will get rid of those incessant bags."  I've tried it all.  Every roll-on ball with gels, lotions, and pastes.  Cortisone, Preparation H ( know you've heard that, too), ice packs...need I go on?  (If you've kept up with my Facebook posts or heard me tell this story, you'll even remember the time I went to see a doctor about a sinus infection and he looked at me, pointed to my eyes, and asked, "What's going on there?")  There was finally a make-up artist who came over with concealer and powder and did her best to hide my imperfection.

We'll see how it turns out in the final edit.

On the way home (the entire 45 minutes home), I thought about how women's physical flaws are often pointed out.  It's nothing new, and we've heard it all before.  But I also thought about how I could respond to this.  What is my reaction going to be?

Here's what I decided:

When I teach issues of gender in the classroom, I ask my students, "If we know that the images that we are barraged with on a daily basis are not real, are unattainable, why do we continue to strive for this false ideal?"  Yesterday, the tables were turned, and I was the one in search of an answer.  I realized that the real problem is not that I have bags under my eyes.  The real problem is that we do not see this often enough in our image-driven culture.

While some may choose to see external bags, redness on the cheeks, or un-brushed hair, I choose to celebrate what the external holds.  My face carries a lifetime of experiences, and I've earned every line on my face.  One of things I know for sure, what is truly important, exists beyond the face, and those who hold the most significance in my life, celebrate that fact with me every day. 

Plain and simple.