Aging sucks. Not the part where I get progressively comfortable with who I really am and stop caring about those who don’t like it. That part is fantastic. It’s the looking in the mirror part of aging that I don’t love so much. I’m 41, and let me just say that I totally appreciate how my sweet husband tells me on a regular basis that I am beautiful, especially, he notes, when compared to the average lady in my peer group. Or the time a friend of mine told me that I look fabulous and am in great shape, and that anyone who saw me from behind would think I was in my twenties. Um, thanks? I couldn’t get over feeling like I’d just been told that I was a tall midget.
I came across this website yesterday called formerlyhot.com, and I had to laugh. (Mind you, I was never “hot”, but I had my fair share of attention in my younger days.) Clearly, I’m not the only one struggling with the fading flower that was my youth. A lot of women like me have reached this place referred to by Formerly Hot’s blogger, Stephanie Dolgoff, as the “adult tween years” – that time when you are within shouting distance of your best physical years, though there’s no fooling yourself that you’re still in them, but you haven’t yet reached old age. Now that I have come to terms with the fact that I fall squarely into this category, clothes shopping has become an annoying foray into a fashion no man’s land. I end up walking the razor-thin line between buying stuff that is age appropriate and cute but not matronly, versus succumbing to the siren’s song of some (usually young, hot) salesperson in one of the fun stores convincing me that I look great in styles geared toward enhanced, super-skinny young ladies. Few things are as painful as seeing an “adult tween” woman prancing around in an outfit that would be appropriate for her if she were 10 years younger.
It’s not that I’m uptight, it’s just that I’ve decided to shoot for aging gracefully. Aside from not buying age-inappropriate clothing, this includes resisting surgical interventions. Plastic surgery is a foot jammed in the doorway of youth, and on the other side of the door is something BIG and determined to close it. Even with the best work, no one is fooled, and unfortunately, the best work seems to be the exception rather than the rule. What I hate most about the proliferation of all this plastic surgery is the implicit message that women aren’t allowed to age, or our value diminishes when we do. So, yeah, I’m trying to get used to my crow’s feet (I prefer to call them laugh lines), my small, somewhat-saggy breasts (common to women who’ve birthed children), and my fairly fit body, which could always be better but is a decent representation of a 40-something who works out regularly. Some days I feel pretty Zen about aging, and some days it’s more like a slog up a 15% incline in the freezing rain with only the promise of a thin blanket to warm me when I reach the top.
As my favorite podcast host, Dan Savage of the Savage Lovecast, says (I’m paraphrasing here), “enjoy being objectified while you can because there will come a day when you no longer will be, and you’ll miss it.” I’m not going to lie, I miss it.