December 20, 2017
This essay was written as part of an empowerment campaign, “Wear Yourself In,” led by eco-luxe skin care company Kari Gran. In response to the beauty industry pushing an impossible idea of flawless youth for years, the campaign encourages women to be kind to themselves, and their skin, as they reflect on beauty, aging, wisdom, and self-acceptance.
Jenny Patinkin is a highly sought-after makeup artist, beauty expert, entrepreneur, and author known for her Lazy Perfection approach to beauty. As Chicago’s premier makeup artist, Jenny’s devoted clientele includes celebrities, high profile and everyday women who count on her for honest opinions, product expertise, and her in-depth technical know-how. Her best selling book, Lazy Perfection, The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying (Running Press/Hachette) was released in May 2017.
I know this is supposed to be about self-acceptance and authentic aging, but I feel honor bound to tell you right off the bat that I authentically think that aging sucks. Not the part where I’m thankful for my good health, my precious family, all my many blessings and the wisdom and perspective that can only be gained from experience, love and loss. I’m all on-board with those parts of getting older. It’s the superficial parts about my crepey eyelids, saggy neck and stunted metabolism that bum me out.
I really wish I could be someone who loves her lines and has the good grace and confidence to wear them like a badge of honor, the pride-filled reflection of a life well lived. But truthfully, when it comes to “aging-gracefully," I’m going to have to take a pass. And since I’ve been making more and more High-Def TV appearances to promote my book, it’s going to be a hard pass -- more of an “Oh hell no," actually.
Even if it weren’t for the perils of High-Def TV, I cannot imagine, now or ever, giving up on the efforts to maintain my appearance. While yes, there are definitely times when it’s exhausting and unproductive to worry about every fine line and age spot, and sure, I get that there are way, WAY more important things to worry about than getting my next Botox fix, simply accepting the passage of time is what makes me feel older than anything.
Because, at the end of the day, the key to staying youthful is hope.
Which is exactly why the beauty industry is as big as it is, and perhaps why I was drawn to it as my second career, at the ripe old age of 40. Hope in a jar, hope in a bottle, in a serum, in a balm, in a foundation … it’s become second nature for us to hope that something, anything, will make all the difference in our quest for eternal youth.
But recapturing lost youth, turning back the clock… that sounds like a bore, quite frankly. Other than being rife with disappointment, why in the world would I want to go backward (other than to revel in my smooth neck one more time) when the future is where the excitement lies. Being youthful means being excited about the possibilities, taking chances, experimenting and playing. It’s about keeping an open mind, and it’s about expanding our horizons. In my professional role as a makeup artist, beauty expert and author, once I stop being open to and intrigued by all the creative, dynamic technologies, formulations, services and products out there, I may as well pop my dentures in a glass next to my rocking chair and watch the world go by.
Part of me wishes I could just go with it and embrace the changes to my face and body (and, let’s face it, hair). While it sounds great in theory to ban the use of the term “anti-aging” and reject the notion that aging is a condition to be cured – I love the supposition that there’s no shame in getting older – but I just don’t find static self-acceptance particularly inspirational. When we stop seeing that there is always room for improvement, superficially or intellectually, we instantly become old.
So – I have a new name for those of us who aren’t ready to simply let the aging chips fall where they may, but who also take pride in having been formed by a rich tapestry of time and experience.
It’s called Flat-Aging.
I am almost 50 now, and after having gone through all the teenage, young adult, new mom insecurities and angst – and after having launched a successful career in a notoriously youth-centric industry at an age already considered to be decrepit – I am happy at last with who I am and how I move in the world, content that I have a fulfilling, gratifying life.
My fine lines and saggy neck are an ongoing annoyance, but mitigated by the delights of finding many, many new things about which to be hopeful and excited, skincare related or otherwise. And I’m not ashamed to admit that the discovery of a new product or procedure can, in fact, give me the whiff of hope that fuels me.
So other than continuing to make the effort to have prettier skin and well-executed makeup (if not a faster metabolism, dammit), I’m just going to stick where I am for now and flat-age for as long as I can. It’s all about finding just the right balance between here and hope.
Follow Jenny on social media @jennypatinkin.