When discussing the joys and hazards of aging, we sometimes hear the comment that laugh lines are beautiful.
Is the comment sincere? Is it authentic? Or, is it ingratiating and falsely flattering? Is there an implied criticism of how you look?
Too often we look at ourselves and say something like, “I look so old”. This happens for women and men alike. Is this vanity — or ego?
Laugh lines and sagging facial muscles are usually decried and not adored. Dermal fillers, collagen injections, skin peels, and photoshopping are used everyday to minimize signs of ageing.
The beauty industry makes billions with marketing techniques designed to make women, especially, worry that wrinkles, as signs of ageing, are cause for action. We are urged to buy certain products, do various facial exercises, and undergo harsh chemical treatments to eliminate wrinkles.
Why are we susceptible to such marketing? Is it fear of ageing? Is the plastic, paralyzed look of Botox treatment beautiful, particularly when fulsome smiles are no longer possible!
As someone who sports a good number of laugh lines, wrinkles, and other battle scars of living, I hold to the truth that laugh lines are beautiful. I’ve earned every one of them, sometimes at great personal cost.
I’ll take laugh lines before frown lines. It’s a form of self-acceptance.
What makes laugh lines beautiful?
Laugh lines are clear evidence of living long enough to ‘age’. In the Western world we forget that getting old is a privilege many never experience. When my sister was diagnosed with her second, and, ultimately, terminal cancer, she expressed gratitude for living for 80 happy years. This wonderful affirmation of her life was an example and a lesson. Rather than moan about her fate, she recognized how blessed she was to have had a long life.
Laugh lines add character. I plan to keep laughing as much and as often as possible. Who doesn’t need a belly laugh every day? One of the benefits of a bridge group that I attend is the laughter that accompanies each game. Researchers on aging often recommend laughter as a method of staying young at heart. As well, laughter benefits health by reducing cortisol, a stress hormone.
Laugh lines tell the story of a life well-lived. Faces of older people who laugh a lot show a pattern of facial lines with wrinkles around the eyes. People who frown tend to have wrinkles and sagging around the mouth. Facial lines form in the positions we adopt, either smiling or frowning. I’ve always smiled easily and I’m attracted to others who show joy on their faces. I’ll opt for laughter over sadness any day, even if laughter means crinkles and wrinkles.
When my husband of 49 years tells me that I look beautiful, it motivates me to look good for him. His comments give incentive to keep my hair groomed and to wear make-up even when I’m just hanging around the house. He compliments my smile. He never mentions wrinkles but will sometimes let me know that I look tired, especially when I’m cheating on sleep!
My laugh lines are permanent markers that show I’ve been blessed with happiness, good relationships, and good health. They have become part of me.
When we recognize that laugh lines are an inevitable by-product of the natural process of aging, we can move on to other, more important aspects of living. I take responsibility for every line and wrinkle on my face and my body. I like to remember that joy created most of these lines — there is no need to deny them nor to try changing them. These are reflections of my life. I’ll wear them with confidence focusing instead on having important values such as truth, justice, and love in my life.
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