Monday, July 5, 2010

The Curse of Aging IV - The Withering Physique

Painting: The Aging Hourglass by Muskan Srivastava and can be purchased here.

This is the type of posting that you must pretend you are not interested in . . . especially if you are male. It is the loss of physical appearance, which comes with aging. I am totally convinced that for every human being, including males, it a very big deal.

I couldn't find the figures of the money spent each year in the U.S. alone, to try and slow down the aging process, but it is probably in the hundreds of billions. It includes everything from simple cosmetics, to gym memberships (whose main goal is to look young), to diets, to medications (which attempt to keep you young by keeping your blood pressure youthful, your heart youthful and your erections youthful), to plastic surgery, to sporty cars and the list goes on and on.

I started this whole series after I heard the story of a has-been actress who realized one day she wasn't pretty any more . . . and she was totally devastated. While I'm sure actors and models are most effected by this aging curse, we are all traumatized to some degree.

It is a fact that nursing homes, which specialize in Alzheimer patients, have to removed all their mirrors. The reason is, those patient experience extreme chronocompressing (which I wrote about last time). Due to the failure of their brain's memory processing, they think they are 30 years old, then they look in the mirror and see an ugly 70 year old face looking back. It is very traumatic to them.

I think this issue applies to Christians because it is one of the areas we deny most. After all, we are taught from the beginning of our Christian experience that to be concerned about our outward appearance is a form of vanity. But it is the elephant in the room, an honest concern that is part of being human.

I can remember vividly our Baptist preacher condemning women who focused on their appearance. He refereed to them as "Jezebels." He pounded his podium so hard that his toupee almost fell off.

But God created "looks" for a reason. It is part of our sexuality. We were created to be fruitful and multiply. It only makes sense that our most reproductive years (when we are young) are those that our outward appearance is at its best. I think on this issue the evolutionary biologist would fully agree. If you need a Biblical reference to this idea, I suggest Song of Solomon 1:16, "How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant." Solomon would be the first to say that cosmetics (hair pieces, face lifts, Botox, or even makeup) does not satisfy in the end. If we live long enough.

But this is how the Fall of Adam messes with our mind. What was created for a purpose (attracting a mate) becomes the number one parameter for determining our personal value in this society. This hasn't always been true and it is truer in some cultures than others. But at this time in history, this perspective has the greatest validity than ever.

So, it has been indoctrinated into our hearts and souls, since an early age I may add, that our personal self-worth (or self esteem) in society is directly linked to our looks. This is why it is so painful as we age to loose that status.

Now, at this juncture, my opinion differs from the Christian status quo. They would say, "Yeah, vanity is wrapped up in self esteem. Repent! Focus on God loving you and stop worrying about growing older and loosing the merits of your physical appearance then you would frolic in the joy of the Lord and live in Christian bliss. "

My perspective is that such simplistic repentance is a farce. Our self-esteem being tied, at least partially, to how society adores our appearance is impossible to escape. It is woven deeply into our fabric. So, I'm saying that we should be honest about it. While we should focus on the fact that our value in God's eyes has absolutely nothing to do with our appearance, we are human. Indeed we were human before we were Christians. We will always care about how we look and the pain of that loss is very, very real. In the perfect world there would be no problem. But in the world, as it is, there is a place for mourning over this part of the Fall and it is our fading looks.

1 comment:

Government Funded Blogger said...

My dear Irish mother had a saying about a homely or ugly face " I don't mind it I'm behind its they guy out front I jar" She just happened to be a beauty and never thought of herself as one.