I visited the zoo several weeks ago and a particular image from that trip has stayed with me. Meddling in the back of my brain…unable to settle. It, or rather she , remained. A fabulous old lady sitting outside the zoo. She wasn’t able to walk around much & was pretty confined to the bench where she was waiting for her party to return to her.
What I noticed about her wasn’t that she seemed a bit helpless, slightly awkward sitting alone at a crowded zoo, or that she was even a bit overweight with large veins popping out by her feet. The thing that stood out was her grooming habits. She had her delicate hand held mirror out and she was applying a fabulous red lipstick to her pinched mouth. I was mesmerized. She was beautiful.
Today the kids & I visited a neighbor who is in a nursing home recovering from hip surgery. As we walked in we met a lady waiting to visit her brother. She was 93. Her hair was curled just so. Her knee length shorts matched the turquoise in her floral shirt and she was working the room. Chatting it up with my kids. Saying hello to everyone who passed while telling them that she was 93 years old & her blond hair was NOT dyed. A magnificent woman. Captivating. Confident. Beautiful.
Then there was another lady. She was being pushed down the hall in her wheelchair by a nurse. Her body was frail, but you could see the frame that must have caught the attention of quite a few men back in the day. Her hair was badly cut, but she had smoothed it back with care. And there on her face was the mark of fabulousness. Red lips. I mean *boom*. A pale old face with bright berry red slathered on aged, uneven, peeling lips. This chic had gumption. I commented on her brilliant shade of lipstick and she said, “Thank you. I just got it.” Then she rolled on by with her shoulders back and lips puckered out.
Rose. Sweet Rose. She was 94 and we met her when we were at the fish tank. She was sitting quietly in her wheelchair cheering the fish on as they raced by. Genuinely the nicest lady. She kept looking at my kids and reminding me to ‘count my blessings’. I did. Rose was rocking the bling. She had red & blue sparkly necklaces on. I mean, bold & bling bling.
Sitting there staring at Rose, it came to me. I realized why I couldn’t shake the image of the lady at the zoo wearing red lipstick. These women were BEAUTIFUL. Genuinely. Knock you down, powerful beautiful. If their calloused feet could fit into stilettos , I bet they would rock those too.
Not the formulated tan, beach wavy hair, big fat lip beautiful that we see all the time in magazines. That kind of beauty is fine to a degree, but it doesn’t compare to these chics. They wear their bling, their mile high socks, and pin tight curls because they are TELLING you they are beautiful.
Big beaded necklaces, matching coordinated outfits, messy red lipstick. These ladies are saying “We are still here.” , “I am still valuable & even if I never leave this building again, I will go out with a bang. Beautiful to the core. Beautiful to the end.”
We don’t see this kind of beauty often. It seems that we are ashamed if our lips are uneven. Or if we have veins appearing in our legs. Maybe you are loosing your hair…who cares! Calculated, culture-driven beauty becomes generic after a while. It’s the imperfect beauty that we can’t seem to forget.
Be brave in your short-comings and bold in your value. Ladies, wear red lipstick and pull out the bling. Men, I dunno. Play football even if you know you will loose.