Today I was at the park with Ray (age 2) and there was a group of kids there who looked to be in their late teens, playing basketball. I said to the one girl: “Did you guys just graduate?” Meaning, from high school (there’s lots of signs up in the neighborhood). She was like “No, I teach 8th grade in Milwaukee.”
Am I now one of those people who thinks “kids” are much younger than they actually are? Is this how out of touch I am? I constantly ask my husband, Derek: “do you think they are the parents?”
Man, it’s tough for me to put a kitschy spin on aging. I’m in the thick of it at 46, and I don’t appreciate it. Derek can put a baseball cap on and get by looking ambiguously aged. My brother Maffy’s dishwater blond is now all silver fox, making him look better than ever.
While men seem to get more attractive as they age, we ladies have it tough in the beauty-standard department. As we age, we tend to get relegated to the background. It doesn’t feel awesome.
These Days it’s Either: Forever Young or Hello Elastic-Waist Pants. Can I Get a Happy Medium?
I am not feeling very graceful about the whole thing. I connect looking young with being young, dutifully absorbing our cultural/mass marketing beauty standard tyranny. I’m at that awkward age of still wanting to look attractive against ever-more impossible expectations. I’m waiting for that freedom of being past it all. Who am I kidding – I am currently wearing elastic-waist pants!
But am I ready to be the one in the orthopedic shoes at the zoo? Exactly when are people going to start assuming I am Ray’s doting Grandma?
Our Cultural Message: Never, Ever Age
We Peter Pams make the first-generation of hot moms, MILFS, and cougars. Congratulations and condolences to us. For the first time in modern history mainstream middle-age dresses Forever-21 and has a proclivity for behaving accordingly.
Imig writes about how beauty standards (and procedures) once reserved for the residents of Hollywood have trickled down to the regular people. The goal is youth at any and all costs. I, for one, find it exhausting.
My Mom never dyed her hair, and she went grey early, a lovely salt and pepper, feathered to the hilt. This was her generation: they aged gracefully. My Aunts, Sylvia, Mabel, and Margie (grey-heads, the lot of them), were my role models of womanhood. Margie had the confidence and infectious laugh. Sylvia was independent and exciting. Mabel had the warmth of the Universal Mother, and I never, ever wanted to leave her kitchen. They had fun with us. We played cards, we went to bookstores, we drove the tractors around. Lots of laughter was shared. They didn’t seem young, or old. They seemed just right.
These days (see, I’m giving myself away as old. These days, geez), more than ever, youth is Everything. My friend Maggie got herself botox for her 27th birthday. Word is, we have to inject botox into our wrinkles before they even appear (preventative botulism. Phew).
We are all indoctrinated in this beauty imperative. There are scientists who are paid to figure out how to “program” us so that we will Buy Things to get the Youth-ness back. It’s big business.
Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again…John Mayer
“Keeps you young” say the retirees on my street about having a toddler while old(er). This is categorically untrue.
Feeling Groovy Post-Youth
I am working on getting to the acceptance phase regarding the clear evidence (I’m typing this with one eye closed in order to see with my “good” eye) of my aging self.
I mean, I love being older. My 20’s were a ball of insecurity and living WAY too much under the influence of What Other People Thought. My default state was fraught and uncertain. My 30’s were relatively wonderful (in retrospect). It was gratifying evolving into more of who I am. Learning to trust myself a bit (with many growing pains) felt amazing. I hit 40 without blinking. But now suddenly at 46, the decade is creeping up and whispering in my ear about aging. Some things don’t come as easily. And if I eat too much sugar, my joints ache.
“Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy” – Cat Stevens
There’s a lot to look forward to as we age, and an extensive body of research has shown that people tend to enjoy greater happiness, lower stress levels and increased well-being later in life. A recent report found that while young people tend to seek out novel or exciting experiences, older people are able to find more value and enjoyment from ordinary life. So day to day living becomes more satisfying as one ages. Simpler pleasures.
And the Fountain of Youth Is…
Taking care of ourselves is what we do, ayurved-ishly, but we will still age and that is a beautiful thing (or at least better than the alternative).
Thus far, all of my posts have contained all sorts of: eat this, do this, don’t you dare do that. Today I have no big recommendations. We already know all the things. There are some good articles out there about ayurvedic anti-aging strategies. Or check out any of my other posts, they contain healthy lifestyle recommendations that should slow the age-train (the best thing to do is to balance vata, the dosha associated with old age).
My advice today is simply this: it’s A-O.K. to get older (note to self).
I have a friend, Ginger, who is in her mid-to-late 70’s (she doesn’t discuss her age). She exudes a certain liveliness that is magnetic. It’s not in how she dresses (tastefully), or some miracle skin product that she uses (she has lots of wrinkles; she loves being outside). Ginger doesn’t apologize for herself. She takes nothing terribly seriously. Ginger never fades into the background; rather, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Adore yourself. Take up space. Saggy, baggy, frumpy McDumpster. Sexy, stylish international woman of mystery. Both. Neither. The challenge: embrace it all.