Friday, March 16, 2012

Looking at Ourselves . . .

Interesting the variety of conversations going on around the question of our looks as we confront them from various perspectives in middle age (I'm getting to the outer edges of "middle age" with my 60th birthday looming next year, but I'm still clinging to that definition -- one step at a time, right?).

Lisa at AmidPrivilege writes honestly and thoughtfully about the move from Pretty to Fierce after being spurred to think about the issue after Duchesse's piece on how Plain might dress to be Attractive (and, for better or for worse, we're talking about physical attractiveness, acknowledging, I hope and believe, that there are certainly other elements we find attractive in a person: wit, generosity, warmth, humour, intelligence, etc.).

I did some musing of my own here in my last post about the value of, and discomfort in, gazing at my own reflection, constructing my own self-representation, wondering at the age I see in my face through the camera lens, in the mirror. And coincidentally, IndigoAlison finds herself "whinging" (but she really isn't, much) about her aging image, and Hostess Lesley frets a bit about a photo of what she calls a "fat moment" but which her readers will see as a wonderful image of a happy, elegant, attractive woman with her aged mother, both obviously celebrating their love and good fortune.

I'm following the various overlapping conversations with avid interest as well as with some frustration about the limitations of the medium that hosts them. Glad that we're sharing our thoughts and revelations and sense of loss and also reassurances about wisdom gained. Disappointed, too, though, that the conversation tends to erupt in bursts but to peter out in a few days because, understandably, we can't be back and forth checking for responses, building on them, challenging each other constructively. I realize how fortunate I have been in the graduate school seminars I've participated in, especially, and I wish sometimes for sustained cohesive discussions in which a topic could build momentum and rigor.  Is that just me?

And, in a demonstration of what I'm talking about, I play dilettante, introducing my reservations and then abandoning further (or rigorous) consideration of them, simply because I have much to do and I've used up my blogging time for the day. I'm leaving you with this treasured shot of two of my maternal aunts, perhaps in their early 20s, both wearing coats they would have made themselves as they were very talented seamstresses. I downloaded the photo from a Facebook Family Heritage group one of my cousins recently established and although it's been scanned from an old photo and is clearly limited, digitally, I love it. Both aunts are gone now, Eileen, on the right, having passed away last year at 90.  And here's me, 60 next year, studying my face in the mirror, in photographs, and peering at my aunts' young selves to find myself there as well.

We're off to see Wim Wenders' Pina this evening, should all go as planned, and then tomorrow we have tickets to The Barber of Seville. Hope you're up to something fun this weekend or, at the very least, have some lovely restorative quiet time.
Meanwhile, you know I always love to hear your response to my muddled thinking. . .

16 comments:

  1. Hmmmm.....thoughtful.

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  2. mette has thrown her hat in the ring on this too mater...
    perhaps we need to explore this topic on a regular basis.
    It is fascinating stuff that women all seem to share strong feelings about.

    I'm hosting a tea so I too must depart!

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    1. Hosting a tea is a pleasant way to get your weekend going. . . enjoy.

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  3. I've been wanting to comment on your original post, then Lisa's, now hostess' and Mette's, but have felt too scattered this week to do so adequately. May have to just write a post of my own to keep the conversation rolling...

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    1. I felt that way when Duchesse posted on plain/attractive -- just not enough time to think cohesively toward a comment I felt comfortable leaving. And I'm not sure these posts are particularly cohesive either, but I do find the various patches of the conversation fascinating. I look forward to seeing what you write, as always.

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  4. Great picture at the top, BTW. I love old family photos.

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  5. Yes, fits and starts. I want a conversation but I feel hoggish if I write a comment that's too long; snippets and zaps fit the medium much better. And it is difficult to do the back and forth as so many other demands and passions fill the spaces between our comments. Having said that, I am so much richer for having read the posts that I visit, and I go away from here always ruminating about something - which I love! So in the absence of conversation, much of it gets channelled into other parts of my life. Great post. I must visit your links.

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    1. Well put, Melanie. Much as I do feel some discomfort with the medium, I do love having other viewpoints on whatever the issue . . . and I can then carry it into other parts of my life.

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  6. Yes, fits and starts. Yes, it would be wonderful to sit with everyone and follow the discussion through. But I still find that I am SO grateful for this community, partial though it may be. I am forever altered by these conversations, even in their fragmented state. And Mater, your presence glows and lights throughout.

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    1. I agree, Lisa. The conversations do alter us, positively I'm sure. Just to know there is company in the thinking. But how fabulous to dream of sitting in a room to really listen and talk. Ah . . .
      (and thanks for the compliment)

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  7. No plans for this weekend and that is just how I want it. I know that I read all of these posts and then let them percolate for weeks...mostly talking to myself and my husband. And sometimes, this results in a new post on my blog. Still fragmented, but the conversation continues.

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    1. Percolating. . . good metaphor! I'll watch to see if/when the conversation pops up over at your place. . . (versions of it, fragments, have obviously played out there before, always intelligently, generously, and ever so articulately).

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  8. Fits and starts. It would be wonderful to sit and follow through, but the medium, despite its limitations, is also such a lovely place, that also allows for and can acknowledge its own limitations as well as ours.

    Somehow, your muddling never gets muddled.

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    1. True enough, Mardel. The medium does, now I think of it, allow for some practices better than a seminar might (or even a livingroom with women and tea and talk). It allows a blurt to be blurted and just sit there, inspiring or stunning or simply stewing. It allows not-quite-yet-shaped thoughts to begin their journey to coherence. And if we want to, it allows conversations to be gathered up again weeks later, or months. Perhaps I simply need to work harder to make the medium work for me. Thanks for the inspiration (and the encouragement).

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  9. This community of women has changed me for sure, the thoughtfulness, the information challenging me to connect, to think about what I wear and my place in the world. I'm very introverted and shy, and I'm not sure I would participate as much if you were real life friends gathered in a livingroom for example. Here I can leave my comment and be heard - in real life I probably would stay silent - if I was even there in the first place!

    Yes, it's sometimes hard to remember to come back and see if there is a reply, and scattered around the world as we are our friendships are limited in a way. But I do feel a connection and look forward to the thoughtful conversations everyday.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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