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June 24, 2008

I Noticed Their Hands

Sharon When I go to the movies, I don't expect to see women who look like me on the screen.  I don't color my gray hair because I haven't been able to duplicate my natural dark brown color, and at my age it would look unnatural even if I could.  I rarely wear make-up, although I moisturize every day.  I am not a shopper, which means I buy clothes that I really like and wear them for many years.  My wardrobe is practical and versatile but in no way glamorous.  I am aware that I rarely see myself reflected in the characters of the movies that I enjoy so much.

In recent weeks I have seen Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt in movies currently showing in theaters.  They are talented, stylish, modern actresses.  The last thing I expected was to have anything in common with either one of them.  Then I noticed their hands.

In the first instance I thought I was mistaken.  Then I paid close attention as Sarah Jessica typed on her laptop or brought her hand to her face.  Broad fingers with short unpolished nails.  Strong hands.   Her hands reminded me of my own.

In the second instance I more readily took in what I observed.  I watched as Helen's hands combed through her hair or reached out to touch someone.  Close-cut nails without color.  Expressive hands with veins and tendons visible as they moved and flexed.  I saw similarities between her hands and my own.

There was a connection that I never expected to feel with an attractive actress, much less one younger than I am.  Nothing about the way I look fits society's definition of "beauty" in today's culture.  I'm not looking for that or working toward that end.  I know I look my best when I feel my best.  I am grateful that my body functions and, most of the time, does what I want it to do.  So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I have something in common with Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt.

Today there are ways for women to take years off their appearance, with topical concoctions, injections, or surgery.  Even hands can be made to look younger with false nails and polish.  For all the years of feminism and all the talk of accepting ourselves as we are, the businesses that cater to the beauty demands of women are flourishing.  Women can spend as much time and money as they want, or are able, to look younger.  Certainly Sarah Jessica and Helen have every available resource at their fingertips.

After I noticed their hands I paid closer attention to their faces.  Tiny lines and creases.  Real faces that express feeling.  Faces that reveal uncertainty, joy, sadness, relief, anger, and love.  These women have matured and aged as we all do.  They have felt the same emotions and are not afraid to show it. 

I have always thought that Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt are engaging actresses.  They are also living, breathing women who experience life on a daily basis. This experience contributes depth to their characters and credibility to their roles.  I appreciate their honesty and expect to enjoy their movies for many years to come.      

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