The weird thing is, you get more comfortable in yourself, even as time is giving you less reason for it. When you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. I think one of the great advantages of getting older is that you let go of certain things. —Helen Mirren
Everyone has that moment, I think, when you suddenly see your reflection in another person’s eyes, and it is an unwelcome reality check.
I play bar trivia with co-workers once a week, many of them younger, and they want me on their team because I have all the bits about obscure Sanskrit gods, Pink Floyd and 70’s porn questions. We drink a little too much, eat fried pickles and sometimes we make up answers just to see how many people we can lead astray. A few weeks ago, one of the other girls forgot her wallet, so I paid her tab, making sure to give her a ration of grief as I handed my card to the waiter.
“It’s ok,” he said to her, “sometimes my mom has to bail me out, too.”
Yes. He’s alive. Primarily because I was old enough to be her mother. His, too.
It’s not like I didn’t know.
But it has been chewing away at me, ever since. It’s made worse by the fact that I recently published online about body image last, with a head-to-toe picture, and told everyone my age.
I’m 47. I did it again! Why did I do that?
Now, people will start adding “her age” to everything. She looks good for her age. I can’t believe she still wears that/drinks that/takes pictures of her boobs at her age. I hope I’m still that tech-savvy at her age.
Do only douchebags say things like “tech-savvy”?
Then, they’ll start calling me “feisty.”
And then—menopause. That’s where you give up everything, right? Sex? Beauty? Energy? Sanity? And then you die?
Google search yields the following:
10 Advantages to Menopause
1. You’ll stop having your period
2. You’ll be super happy about that.
3. You won’t have to buy feminine hygiene products.
5. You can’t get pregnant!
7. No periods! That’s cool, right?
8. You won’t have PMS because, well . . .
9. No periods!
Another site gives a compelling list of women in their 50s, applauding them as “the new face” of menopause. Every woman on the list has had plastic surgery of some kind. Which is fine—don’t get me wrong—but don’t throw “50 is the new 30” at me and back it up with women who seem to be trying to cling to an unrealistic expectation of ageless beauty.
How about we just let 50 be the new 50?
It isn’t going to be easy, and I am absolutely certain that in the next few years I am going to freak out and go all Death Becomes Her at least once. I grew up hearing whichever Oil of Olay model with imaginary wrinkles stating, confidently, “I don’t intend to grow old gracefully. I intend to fight it every step of the way.”
They are talking about lotion. For your face. Not climbing Mt. Everest. Isn’t that awesome? The way they slap a pseudo-feminist “take charge” twist on a bullshit notion?
The way I see it, which is vastly different than how I saw things at 30, is we gain so much from maintaining our health, our well-being, our engagement, our relationships—and we gain nothing from spending a fortune in creams, or cosmetics, injections or surgeries, to maintain what is essentially a lie. It’s nothing but eventual disappointment for failing to meet a cultural standard of beauty that started setting us up to fail the moment we bought into it.
But don’t mind me. I’m just feisty.
This post originally appeared on The Sisterwives.