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When Is The Desire To Be Desired Too Much?

As a 46-year old woman I frequently blog about beauty and body image. I am not a role model. On the one hand I’ve done a series of fine art nude photgraphs and posts about loving my body now which is 20 pounds heavier than when I got married. On the other hand I’ve had Lasik eye surgery, a brow-lift/blepharectomy, laser hair removal and now Ultherapy skin tightening ultra-sound. What does this say about me? Of course, I wanted the eye surgery so that I wouldn’t have to wear glasses anymore. I’m so glad I had it done. My friend recently went through the same process but had SMILE surgery (if you’re not familiar with it, check out these facts about SMILE eye surgery). I had the eye surgery for my health, not for my appearance.

That I’m vain? A hypocrite? A middle-aged woman with too much time on her hands? A privileged narcissist?

I don’t think it’s ever that simple. I’m also a community-builder, a school volunteer, a full-time mother/wife/daughter/granddaughter/sister, a journalist, a screenwriter, an AYSO soccer referee (God help me and my knee socks), a writing coach, an empath, a good friend.

I want to be beautiful. And I desire to be desired. It gives me a spring in my step. It makes me feel saucy and smart and invincible. I put make-up on every day. I wear clothes that flatter. I paint my toenails and do my hair every four days (that’s when I start to smell like a six-year old boy) and I work out three times a week. I also care about public education, the Arab Spring, why we failed in Iraq, why, in killing off Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire killed off the heart of the show.

I think every person should do whatever they like to make themselves feel beautiful. Lose weight. Don’t lose weight. Have a face lift. Wear high heels. Wear a knowing smile. Let your armpit hair grow out. Wear braids.Kiss your husband every day. Inflate your lips. Have breast reconstruction. Wear a bra. Or don’t. We are an amalgam of personality, a dichotomy of priorities and how we care for ourselves reflects that.

I plan to try not to begrudge anyone for doing whatever makes them feel beautiful. I wasn’t always that way until I embraced the way that my body keeps me in the temporal world and this human experience. It’s humbling and liberating at the same time. I was an insecure twenty-something and am now a take-no-prisoners 40-something who wants to squeeze all the juice out of life.

There’s a gorgeous video out and about now called, “>Look Good, Feel Better which is a PSA for cancer patients. It’s a meditation on appearance. That sometimes we must work from the outside in to feel good. I feel lucky at my age to finally catch beauty by the tail and have fun with it because there’s no knowing what tomorrow may bring.

I’ll be updating my Ultherapy experience like a journalist by providing weekly photographs. In the meantime…


Tags assigned to this article:
agingbeautybody imagevanity

24 comments

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  1. Jeannine
    Jeannine 20 June, 2012, 09:31

    You are fab!

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  2. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon 20 June, 2012, 11:29

    I love your attitude. I wish I could be a little more comfortable in my own skin – or at least less judgmental toward it. But we are all in process and that’s a good thing.

    Reply this comment
  3. Elle @SeeMomWorkBlog
    Elle @SeeMomWorkBlog 20 June, 2012, 11:44

    Beauty isn’t everything and it’s fleeting. Sometimes it’s nice to just not care a little bit. Focus on the things that do matter and that are lasting. But feeling good, being attractive and healthy is important to me, but not I have my own standards of beauty that aren’t necessarily mainstream.If skin on the face is too tight it freaks me out! Suffice it to say, you ARE beautiful.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 20 June, 2012, 17:53

      Hi Elle — thanks so much for your kind words. I don’t know exactly where I fall in the vanity spectrum, but I suspect I’m in the California demographic, though hopefully not in the embalmed-like-a-corpse section. xo

      Reply this comment
  4. OCMomActivities - Katie
    OCMomActivities - Katie 20 June, 2012, 13:18

    Oh dang it, now I’m in tears. Your post was great, but then I clicked play on the PSA. Having watched my mom go through ALL of those changes described, I’m reminded how much we all take the little things for granted in beauty. A simple wig made my mom feel human again…

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  5. deborah
    deborah 20 June, 2012, 13:52

    oooch. I hated that commercial.
    I know what it was “supposed” to achieve…but it had just the opposite effect for me.

    I lived cancer for 10 years…42-52 and was bald for a goodly time of that. If that didn’t get my beautiful inner/outer girl attention I don’t know what could have! I chose not to wear a wig for a number of reasons but first and foremost was the feeling “fake” aspect.
    Yet I wear make-up, is that “fake”?
    I don’t color my hair, am I “more” real?
    I’m 58 and still can’t decide what surgical/non-surgical steps I would feel most authentic pursuing. But I very much enjoy learning what others are choosing!

    Living bald was the most powerful gift I have ever given myself…the lessons learned? Priceless.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 20 June, 2012, 17:59

      Deborah — thanks for sharing your story!! I have a close friend who recently had breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and chemo and has just finished the reconstruction road which she said has been more painful than anything else. She didn’t wear a wig through chemo and dressed as a drummer for Blue Man Group for Halloween which just blew me away. Recently her hair’s grown in much grayer and curlier than it was before and she keeps it close cropped to her head where before she wore it shoulder length. The other night our mom’s book club met and she still had her drains from reconstruction. She had her short hair and a colorful cardigan and red lipstick and that woman never looked more beautiful than she did that night. She both humbled and inspired me. You sound like a Viking warrior who is undoubtedly gorgeous.

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  6. Julie (Ginger)
    Julie (Ginger) 20 June, 2012, 14:37

    I absolutely love this, as I struggle with feeling beautiful! You are beautiful inside and out, and I’ll do my best to follow your advice. Expect maybe for growing out my arm pit hair. 😉

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 20 June, 2012, 17:59

      The armpit hair requires a great deal of fortitude. Yours would be a magnificent Irish Isle red.

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  7. Desiree Eaglin
    Desiree Eaglin 20 June, 2012, 19:15

    I died right alongside Jimmy Darmody. I don’t know if I’ll be able to even watch the new season.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 20 June, 2012, 20:37

      I loved Jimmy Darmody. Those lips, those eyes. How could they kill him???

      Reply this comment
  8. Tanya Doyle
    Tanya Doyle 20 June, 2012, 21:45

    I’m all for optimizing one’s own beauty. The fine line is when it’s done to meet society’s standard rather than our own. It’s hard to know if I wish I had a less angular face because I know I feel it’s not beautiful or because the world is telling me it’s not beautiful.

    btw, congrats on smelling like a six year old boy, as opposed to a sixteen year old boy. 😉

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 21 June, 2012, 14:26

      Hi Tanya — I really want extra flesh on my tummy to be sexy. I have a cat who is incredibly fat and her fat is so alluring. I want to just roll on the ground with that fat cat. I think society needs to appreciate fat in humans more.

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  9. sue
    sue 21 June, 2012, 10:13

    So very true!! And each is different on the areas we see and feel beautiful about. I think with age it’s also about wisdom, and having the outside match the inside of how we feel. Great post!!

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  10. Debby
    Debby 21 June, 2012, 20:16

    Tears- thinking about my best friend who lived with cancer for 5 years. She was beautiful. Thanks for the post.

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  11. Ms. Cheevious
    Ms. Cheevious 26 June, 2012, 12:35

    HA! GREAT post. More power to ya sistah! Love it.

    Reply this comment
  12. Lisa Jey Davis
    Lisa Jey Davis 26 June, 2012, 12:37

    I think it’s a common thread these days that we finally break through our insecure twenties, into our somewhat certain but still uncertain 30’s… followed by the comfortable and loving life in our own skin 40s. At least it’s common for me! LOL Awesome post!

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  13. Jean Jankaew
    Jean Jankaew 25 July, 2012, 10:38

    Ulthera !!!! About 10 months ago I had treatment w/Dr. Fitzgerald. The Results r Incredible! My face look youthful 🙂 I am soooo happy

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 25 July, 2012, 12:35

      I can hardly wait for my After shots. I’m still a bit sore and numb under my chin so I know there’s still healing happening. Oh science and technology I do appreciate you!

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  14. Mish Beshore
    Mish Beshore 28 July, 2012, 19:29

    At almost-38 I still haven’t quite mastered that “take no prisoners” love for myself that I have for my four sons. I hope that once the house is quiet for a bit, I can embrace myself the way I someday hope to embrace some beautiful grandkids.

    Actually I’d settle for being able to eat the chocolate without feeling guilty that I wasn’t sharing…! LOL

    Your blog has given me hope for the future.

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