Women growing older with grace and gusto

Can you be a Crone and have botox?

photo credit: spider dog + my effects

Can you be a Crone and have botox or cosmetic surgery? This question caused some interesting debate among friends I spent time with over the weekend.

The power of Crone

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know I love the practice of reclaiming the word Crone as we grow older. There’s power both in defusing the insult and in the crone archetype.

So what do we mean when we call ourselves Crone?  Lynne Scholefield explored some of the issues in her recent guest post:

I think that the ideas relating to ‘Crone’ offer some interesting possibilities.  That is because crones are who they are in their own right and their creativity, their wisdom, their being, does not depend on a man.  Getting rid of the dualisms also opens up the possibilities of thinking more fluidly about gender and sexuality generally.  I am not suggesting, of course, that women should live lives in which men do not feature, although some women may choose to do this, but that we might try thinking and talking about what it means to be a woman with reference only to women.

What’s artificial?

There are still not many visual exemplars of women who age honestly. And it’s important that there should be. But what does it mean?

I choose not to dye the badger stripes out of my hair. But I look after my skin. I pay regular visits to the dentist and the optician. I shower and bathe (you’ll be relieved to hear!). I sometimes wear make-up. I enjoy playing with clothes.

I’ve been thinking about why I do some of these things. It’s partly vanity, partly fun, partly health maintenance, partly social expectations (it’s nice not to smell!). But I don’t think I’m doing it to try and look younger.

But so what if I was?

Personal choice

Would our self-defined Crone use artificial means to try and look younger? Can she have her archetype and eat it?

When my aunt was in her late 70s, she told me she regretted never having had the bags under her eyes removed. They’d become prevalent in her 40s and although she was a vital and lively woman until shortly before she died at 84, the under-eye bags meant she looked perpetually tired. And that affected how people treated her.

I’m inclined to think that Crone is a certain age, a certain state of mind, a certain wisdom and a certain light-heartedness, and it doesn’t matter what you choose to do with the externals.

What do you think?


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28 Responses to Can you be a Crone and have botox?

  1. I have a friend who represents the crone imagery so perfectly in every way, natural greying hair, unique dress, a woman of much wisdom, grace and acceptance

    I would hope one day I have the wisdom, grace and acceptance to follow in her footsteps . . .
    Kel recently posted..Sing your storyMy Profile

  2. Part of being a crone for me is the whole-hearted acknowledgement and active acceptance of the changes age brings. By acceptance, I don’t mean something passive, indifferent or lethargic, I mean looking things in the eye and saying ‘I know you and I will live with you, and I will be proud to introduce you to my friends’ These changes are what’s real, and I don’t want to hide them. So, no Botox for me. Anyway, I have far more interesting things to spend my pension on…

    But that’s my own choice. Others may have a different take on the issue, and I hope to hear and learn from them.

    • Hi Alison, that’s a great distinction between passive and – I think the right word might be powerful – acceptance.
      Interesting point about money, too. One of my (younger) colleagues has eyelash extensions done and it costs her a fortune! (The thought of it makes me shudder…)

  3. Part of what attracts me about the crone archetype (I do wish I would stop going to type ‘chrome’ instead) is being happy in her own skin. And so if that skin has sags and wrinkles then so be it.

    I feel like this archetype is so undervalued in society, it takes a woman of steel to go this way. Which is why I plan on doing stacks of yoga so hopefully I don’t have too much of a problem to deal with, haha. But who knows? Sure, I would love to know I was going to age gracefully, like someone like Katherine Hepburn. (Not that I have the arsenal she had in the beginning, all that grace that still shone through, but to be age gracefully within myself would be nice … but then again, maybe not. Perhaps it’s better to age *dis*gracefully … but then I want to do that too, just not with too many sags and bags because I worry that my temperament will keep me inside and hidden away and I don’t want to do that.

    Ramble ramble ramble.

    As you can see, I have much to learn from the crone archetype. I look forward to fitting better into her skin as I go 🙂
    Sue recently posted..Please Leave the House, DearMy Profile

  4. I’m not a fan of Botox, just simply because it’s Botox. That said, I am thinking very seriously about “having some work” done.

    Due to a combination of stress, a bout with poverty and the arrival of menopause, I went from looking pretty good and not even thinking about aging to my body changing in a way I don’t recognize, my teeth having some huge,huge issues and all of a sudden lots of wrinkles. (Some of them because of the teeth.)

    I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself at all. (I know alot of it has to do with the teeth and maybe when that’s done…) Suffice to say, I am not dealing well with this stranger in the mirror who showed up overnight.

    Maybe if it had been a slower progression. But right now I look at myself and struggle with it.

    Obviously having the dental work done is a no-brainer. What I’ll do after that, I don’t know yet.
    Em recently posted..Out!My Profile

    • Hi Em, yes that’s a tough one, that sudden difference. For me it’s been a slow process but I have a friend who suddenly started looking – as she put it – like someone else overnight.
      Maybe after the dental work you can make friends with that stranger, maybe she’ll need a little more tweaking to feel like you.

  5. A couple of years ago I started to henna my hair, mainly because, always having had black hair I was amused at the way henna turned the grey bits BRIGHT ORANGE! Nowadays there seems to be a lot more bright orange and I am wondering at which stage to STOP…do I want to be a crazy old woman with bright orange hair? Well, yes! Part of me wouldn`t say no to that at all…would go/clash with my purple very nicely…And yet there is also this feeling of wanting to be authentic, really me….but if we are going to follow that thinking, do I then love my facial hairs as well??? See where I am going with this? Every sister has that line she will not cross, that little bit of growing old that is not (visually at least) acceptable to her…so who are we ever to judge anothers` choices? I think the most important thing is to offer love and unconditional solidarity to all women whatever their choices for let`s face it, we will receive enough judgements from “out there” anyway…and who knows, the more we love and accept and AFFIRM one another as Crones, the more courage we may have to really be ourselves…

    • “Every sister has that line she will not cross” – exactly. I’m sure that’s true, and probably different for all of us. Talking of hair, I do dye my eyebrows, I forgot to mention that. Otherwise I just look anaemic.

  6. I was very fortunate in my late 30s to meet a woman who gave ‘Color Me Beautiful’ workshops. I learned then that I was a ‘dramatic winter.’ My hair would turn white, I learned, and this would fit me.
    I have seen older women, in their 70s, walking the Camino… I hope I can follow in their footsteps.
    Botox is tempting sometimes, for those tiny wrinkles above my upper lip. They remind me of my grandmother…
    I like a good haircut, a facial once in a while, a massage. I feel drawn again to fuchsias and turquoise.
    Life at 65 feels good 🙂
    claire recently posted..ContentmentMy Profile

  7. I do think it is an interesting question to ask, “Who am I dressing for?’ There are so many conventions about clothes. What do I want other people to see?
    I also think that patriarchy sets women against each other – competing to be the perfect woman – and I’d rather not do that as a crone. – compare myself with some ideal that someone else has set.

  8. First, I love the things you make us think about. We go through our lives doing what we do without often thinking about why. A woman changes many times in her life because of circumstances and often we don’t have a choice in how we have to make that change. Becoming a Crone, to me, means being the way we want the world to see us, in whatever way we choose, with no preconceived notions of what that is. To be authentic to ourselves. If we give up one “set of rules” for another then we have not actually liberated ourselves to living how others say we should. I’m a girly girl, and I love all of what that means. I am also just one of the “guys” and often look and act the part. Actually, I think I have been a Crone-in-training most of my life, just doing and being the way I choose to in life. It wasn’t always easy to be that way. I always felt I wasn’t allowed to because I was told it was not how girls/women are suppose to be. It didn’t stop me but I always felt I had to defend my choices. I’ve always contributed giving myself that freedom to be as I am without the guilt to the Benedictine Nuns I had in high school. They lifted a tremendous weight off my shoulders. I was finally told it was OK to question and to forge my own path. Now with age, I have even more of the outspoken attitude to go along with who I am and the excitement of possibly changing it all on a whim, if I see fit to! To me that is the beauty of a Crone.

    • Patti, I love everything you’ve said here, especially the phrase “authentic to ourselves”. Sometimes that can feel like a lifetime’s work. And Benedictine Nuns are very fine! Glad you had them in your life.

  9. I had quit college, and was working a job as a bank teller, but was beginning to regret it. Meanwhile I had a boyfriend, who could care less about the education I was throwing away, but who complained, “You do nothing with your hair.” So I went back to school. I still do nothing with it.

  10. Our society has been suckered into focusing on appearance, on superficialities. The great merchandising machine plays to our insecurities to get us to purchase their products, having convinced us that if we do not have the right makeup or the right clothes, or the right car, or the right gadget, no one will like us. It is to their advantage to work us up into an obsession with youth and beauty and, in the process, they have so distorted and contorted our image of what a normal healthy person should look like and weigh that it is downright hazardous to our health. What does it say about our societies standards that we have to have actual surgery (liposuction, nose jobs, tummy tucks, face lifts, etc.) and half starve ourselves in order to meet those standards? We look at a picture of Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren, and all we can see is how “chubby” they are, and when we look at Betty Grable’s million dollar legs, all we see are “thunder thighs.” I catch myself doing the same thing — I was watching a British film the other day and caught myself thinking how one actor really should get his lower teeth straightened. Then I realized I had become so hung up on superficialities. How is having straight teeth going to make him a better actor? I look at all these advertisements for “serums” and “systems” that remove wrinkles and smooth skin and laugh — All they are is hemorrhoid cream with some tints and scent mixed in and put in a fancy bottle. We’ve become so obsessed with “wrinkles” that we inject our faces with a disease toxin to paralyze the muscles so they won’t wrinkle our skin. Look up “botulism” — That’s where “Botox” comes from — BOtulinum TOXin. I can see the point in sun screens, lotions and lip balms for chapped skin, and ointment for scrapes and such. Their point is to maintain health and prevent disease. Yes, I had my nose “fixed.” I had it fixed because it was broken, and I couldn’t breathe well through it. But I’ll pass up the liposuction and tummy tucks, and the hair dye, and the potions and serums, thank you. The great merchandising machine has convinced us that “old” is the enemy. But it’s not. “Old” is the goal. It’s the tape at the end of the race that means you won. You’ve gone the distance. You’ve stayed the course. If it takes me longer to come up with a name or a piece of trivia, than it does some 20-something, it’s because I’ve lived longer, experienced more, and the data base I’ve accumulated in the process is several orders of magnitude larger. I want laugh lines — they show that smiles and laughter have traveled often enough across my face to wear a path. These crow’s feet are from looking at the horizon to see what’s out there. And these feet and knees ache because I’ve been to the places I’ve seen on the horizon. I’m entitled to be old. I’ve earned it.
    WOL recently posted..One of Those Days After One of Those DaysMy Profile

    • I love this, WOL, especially the last two sentences! Your mention of the word “system” in connection with skin care reminds me of the scientification (I’m sure I just made that word up!) of beauty. Lots of money to be made there, that’s for sure!

  11. I pretty much believe in just letting it be. Sure we all want to look presentable, but have you seen the brightly colored plastic flowers that some people set out in their flowerpots in the winter time? Just doesn’t look right.

  12. I’m inclined to say . . . . nooo.

    I’m sure there exist some great, zesty Crones who have done botox or cosmetic surgery. In general, though, making these choices bring all of us down because they create bizarre expectations around appearance and everlasting youth that affect all of us, whether or not we want to be affected.

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