I am from the first generation that has never known a world without television.
I am also irritated and disappointed that I am 63 and look it.
And I believe the two are connected.
I was 5 years old when my mother bought our first black-&-white-G.E. TV. For 58 years I have been influenced, inspired, deluded, shocked, and entertained through the medium. The impressions have left their mark.
Let me explain. My daughter was editing photographs on her computer. She showed a close up shot of me holding my 10 month old granddaughter. Julia was snuggling her curly brown-haired head into my neck. Our two faces in digital reality filled the 28 inch screen.
I was stopped. The contrast between Julia’s creamy skin with my 63 year old face was stark. So this is why the grocery clerk refers to me as ma’am. It was as if I were seeing my face for the first time in 20 years. Who was that woman? Women on a screen aren’t supposed to look like that woman.
I felt deflated. I was irritated with myself for my age spots and wrinkles. How could I have let this happen?
My age feels like an accident experienced in a black out. Did I misplace a decade? But having checked journals and photographs, my life appears to be all there.
Now to my credit, I have two degrees, one 37 year marriage, two daughters, one son-in-law and one fabulous granddaughter …all of whom remember my birthday. I have helped a few people during my 23 years as a therapist. I have also written a book and managed to avoid alcohol for 25 years.
And to all of that I say – so what? So what does any of that matter if I don’t look good on the screen? What am I looking for or what have I been looking at?
With television I was promised that for just three easy payments of $29.95 plus shipping and handling, I too could look like the lovely woman demonstrating the new product. I was encouraged to follow my dreams… to know I was a woman and hear her roar… while I ate the better-than-butter spread.
It has been broadcast into my DNA that beautiful people reach the top. Implicit in those TV images is that at the top you will be young; driving the right car and your mascara will never smudge.
I feel television has abandoned me. The few white haired people on the screen are either trying to have sex timed perfectly with their Viagra or are looking for a place to go to the bathroom.
I never fantasized how I might look at 63. I was too busy looking at people much younger. So now here I am and I need to learn about this older woman. There is one thing I do know about her. A little girl, with brown curly hair whose name is Julia, thinks her 63 year old “Mammy” is beautiful.