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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

And this is why when Meghan Daum posts an article, I skip past all those other saved substack articles and read hers first.

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this dovetails nicely with an absurd Paulina Porizkova instagram caption I read this morning that said something like “there’s no representation of aging.” what? I’m literally watching everyone age! in real time! on the internet!

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author

Thanks for the kind, funny, and insightful comments, everyone. And thank you for heeding what I said in the Leigh Stein conversation and not telling me "chin up!" So to speak.

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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

The French expression, "jolie laide" which means "pretty-ugly" and refers to a woman who is attractive despite a visible flaw. If I can claim to have been such a woman in my youth I can tell you that by age 70 the jolie recedes and the laide becomes glaringly unsightly. YouTube may have forced a NEW reckoning, but the problem existed for many woman long before You Tube, if they weren't photogenic in still photos, OR if they simply weren't pretty. When I posted my first psychotherapy web site and had to have a head shot taken I joked that if Freud had been required to post his photograph he would have gone out of business.

One issue that arises from this is whether we are going to keep struggling with this as we age. The question isn't whether botox and fillers make a difference or not but whether we should resist the pressure to disguise age. I'm not saying something new here, but the pressure and the methods of disguising age has increased significantly since I was young. To me, the prospect that women who are running out of time are going to lose that time (and money) to spending it on procedures is a violation. It takes courage to frankly expose the ravages of time but I admire courage. If I had to chose between being beautiful or courageous I'd probably still chose beauty but I would be wrong. Absent that choice, I am trying to be valorous. (There's no photo here to illustrate this for a reason!). Kudos to Meghan for courageously writing on the dilemma.

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This was a ballsy and beautiful (and funny). Who ever writes an honest portrait of her face, especially around liking it?

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Meghan, this has broken my heart, even if I am sure that was not the point. Speaking of the way we hate ourselves has become an invite to others to say how pretty we are, indeed. This is often not the point.

I feel you because I have always hated my body to my core, still do, and ignored my face, because I don’t like the way « she » looks back at me. It’s hard to not oversee ourselves in this video era. However, I still believe that ideas matter, more than everything else. And I like yours so I hope it brings you a microgram of joy, or a video-proof smile, chin-down.

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My father’s wife recently turned 71. They met later in life, when they were both in their 50s. His love for her was like nothing I had ever observed in an adult relationship. Passionate, playful, and devoted. A “hippie” lady with messy brown hair & tan, wrinkled skin from a life spent outdoors exploring & working, she never wore make-up and dressed only in blue jeans. She was so beautiful to him that he fell in love at first sight. They never told me the full story, but I’m pretty sure they met on the hiking trail and went to a hotel together that night. My dad died seven years ago, and when I see her today, I see nothing but beauty in this 70+ year old woman’s face. I see her through his eyes. If he were still alive, I know that he would see pure beauty in her face. We could all be so lucky to have someone in our lives who sees us as we truly are, inclined ourselves!

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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

I continue to listen to the podcast so none of the screen distractions get in the way. This phenomenon of appearance is a huge topic for women. Thank you for delving into it for us. We begin to fixate on it at a pretty young age--the imperfections of skin, teeth, hair, body. The changes of aging are so gradual until they feel weightier during the post-menopausal 50s. By 70, the truth of old age takes over. Fortunately, it happens to everyone, even celebrities. I always feel reassured to see a photo of someone I have known only through movies appear a lot older--just like the rest of us, despite access to all the tricks of their trade.

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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

Genius, as expected. Meghan, when I got braces at age 10, I also felt like I was finally in the fast lane to becoming an actual teenager. And I was thrilled that my silver braces matched my silver glasses frame.

Many wonderful lines in your piece, but this may be my favorite, regarding avoiding comments on YouTube: "lest I spot something that will bruise my ego even beyond the injuries I already inflict upon it."

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This was so perfect and vulnerable and real and goddamn hilarious I laughed out loud through most of it. Also I never realized how awkward and ugly some of my facial expressions are as much as I have being on zoom

Calls as often as I am now. It’s very insecure self image inducing. Brutal. I can’t imagine being on a regular podcast and having to endure that!

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Meghan, I have seen you from every angle, and you never struck me as anything but "that blonde girl I always envied" and, by the way, cool as hell. Just you wait until you're my age, and the jowls and crinkles start to appear. Then we'll talk.

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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

Great writing, as always. I have been at war with my face ever since the 4th grade, when my folks took me to a doctor who was going to fix my deviated septum (which is not very visible from the outside) and flubbed the surgery and made my nose obviously crooked. After high school, I had the deviated septum repaired properly, but the doctor didn’t touch the mess the other guy made.

I don’t know if I have a good angle. I surmise not. I have only come across one or two candid pics in my entire life where I thought I looked OK.

I never wanted to have kids (I own your book Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed…), so being perpetually single was never that big of a deal. I have dated, but as you can imagine, it’s always with a man who’s not into for the long haul, because standards for appearances for wives are higher than they are for women a guy is just having fun with.

Once I came to terms with the fact that I was just not attractive enough to have a legit boyfriend or husband, things got so much easier. There’s a grieving process, of course, but I live alone with an awesome dog, I have many hobbies, and I am reasonably content.

Anyway, women universally have an uneasy relationship with their looks. It just comes with the territory.

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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

I laughed so much reading this!

"Handsome woman"? I shudder at that phrase!!

I won't lie, sometimes it's really hard watching my pretty face morph into my Dad's. My only consolation is that:

1. I had a good run, and

2. I adore my late father, and his mother. I see both faces now when I look in the mirror.

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You are beautiful. Inside and out. Love this. Glad to be here, reading your words.

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Aug 31, 2023·edited Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

Oh my f-ing god this is hilarious! I laughed out loud through the entire read. But Meghan, I'm not laughing with you. You always look great! Today is my 59th birthday and I thought, I'm kinda getting past all of this. It's at the point where I don't think face lifting or skin stretching are helping. Only hurting. Typically, I see women who have had work done and I think, they don't look better, they just look like they had work done! And what's lost in that? The beauty of aging and maturity and the outward signs of a life lived. Creases and all.

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Aug 31, 2023Liked by Meghan Daum

I relate to this! I’ve always had a bit of reverse body dysmorphia, in that my mental image of my face is much prettier than most candid photos tend to bear out. My best angle is full face, straight ahead, and my vantage point in a mirror has helped me maintain the delusion that I have a nice, attractive face for many years. I spend a lot of time thinking “what is wrong with that picture? that’s not how I look!” [add filter] “Oh yes! That’s much more like it!”

It took the intersection of “middle age” and “the expectation that I would spend several hours of every day on video calls” in 2020, to bring me around to this new idea that “actually, I’m mostly just weird looking .”

Most people are average looking, and most average looking people can round up to “attractive” with the right styling choices. In my rational mind, I know that this applies to me too, but whenever I see a picture from the side or in bad light, the struggle is real. Thanks for writing this.

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