Isn’t it funny how age sneaks up on you? We go from adorable babies with nary a spot or blemish on us, and BANG! Sixty or so years later we have more lumps and bumps, skin tags, wrinkles and wobbly bits than your standard crocodile? Not to mention the hilarious hair thing: the hair you want to keep starts thinning or falling out, and places where you do not want hair starts sprouting it like monkey grass.
Speaking of hair, every woman in my family has thick, coarse, full hair. It’s both a blessing and a curse: the blessing being that you usually still have quite a lot of hair left when the aging/thinning thing happens. The curse is that the majority of hair styles just don’t work for us. I so longed for that gorgeous silky, swingy hair that moves when you walk; mine is an immoveable helmet. If I sleep on my back, I will wake up with that oh-so-sexy turkey tail in the back of my head. And it will stay looking like that unless I soak my head and start over again. In the 7os, I craved to have long, flowing hippie hair; what I had to settle for was the precursor of the 80’s mullet, the shag.
Sagging skin is another surprise from the glorious grab-bag of aging. My chin is rapidly heading south to join forces with my chest, and the only defenses I have are scarves, multi-tiered necklaces, turtlenecks, or just holding my head up higher. (However, if I hold it up any higher I’ll be saying hello to the back of my neck.)
My smile lines have turned on me as well. These and dimples, once so cute and appealing, have become permanent fissures and craters on my face. And don’t get me started on age spots and skin tags–they are nasty little imps that prey on you when you get to a certain age. My mother tells me that, when I was born, there wasn’t a spot or freckle on me anywhere. Where do the cursed things come from, and who the heck invited them??
And on the subject of skin, why oh why do we still get pimples?? This, along with everything else happening to my skin? It seems very wrong indeed to have both wrinkles and pimples on the same face.
Oh, and my legs have also joined the ‘I’m older, I don’t care anymore’ bandwagon. I used to have gorgeous legs with only the very occasional razor nick on them. These days I can play Connect the Dots on them all the way up to my kneecaps. Sheesh.
Toenails?! Don’t make me laugh. My previously pearly shell-like toenails, the gemstones of my formerly pretty feet, have all turned into tough little stegosaurus-like plates and horns. My nailclippers just aren’t up to cutting them, either; I now use an industrial-strength device that can also cut cable.
Hands are another dead giveaway that you are no longer a spring (or even a summer) chicken. My hands have road-maps of veins interspersed with coppery age spots. They look exactly like the kind of map the tourists buy when they come up for summer vacation. The veins show where to go, and the age spots are the “fun spots” you want to stop at and take pictures of with your kids. Sigh.
Then there is the rapid decline of the body part we (thankfully!) don’t have to look at on ourselves: the butt, bottom, hinder, buttocks; the good old gluteus maximus. I had a relatively flat butt most of my life until I got older, now I have an actual card-carrying butt. However, it too sags. One of the many things that send the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and me into snorts of laughter is looking at each other’s nekkid butt. Who knew that your butt could also get wrinkles? However, they are underneath the butt; what I fondly call “butt pleats.” Sad, but hilarious.
My favorite aging body part is the “wubbies.” These are the wobbly bits that your bra, no matter how expensive or sturdy it is, just cannot contain. Wubbies are the “side boob” flesh that sneakily peek over the sides of your bra. It’s bad enough that my once-perky breasts have given up the ghost and now seek my armpits in which to rest at night–and now I have wubbies, too. If I could design the perfect bra, it would start at mid-thigh and continue up to the chin. That would certainly solve the wubbie situation, but I would probably have an enormous fat head from all that upward pressure.
We were told when we were young and firm that we were living in the Age of Aquarius. Guess all of us at this age are now living in the Age of All That Fast and Loose Living Finally Caught Up to You, Didn’t It, Sonny Jim? But really, how much does it matter now? Isn’t it enough that we are still standing, still living and breathing, still enjoying life, still growing and changing and becoming who we are meant to be? Think back on all the mistakes made in our youth. We did end up learning something, didn’t we?
So these days when I look in my mirror and see how much my outward appearance has changed, I no longer mourn that long-ago pretty, young, unlined face. I celebrate each line and wrinkle, each silver hair, each age spot and skin tag, knowing that they are all markers of where I have been. I no longer wish to look like a 20 year old; I love being who I am. The face I now see in the mirror reflects all the good things I have been and done as well as the future before me, with more things to learn and do. I am not who I was, and am thankful for that. All I have learned up to this point take me so far beyond looks! Take a good look at the Dali Lama. You will see an enlightened man, whose gentle good humor and love of life and all people radiate from every part of his being. He is no longer a young man, and I’ll bet he too laughs when he looks in his mirror.
So, all that said, who the heck cares how I look? My life no longer revolves around the newest fashions and makeup styles. This time of life is for being exactly who you are, warts and all. I now look forward for what is to come, and no longer look back with longing or loss in my heart. Mind you, I do wear makeup each day because I like to. I also like my own style of clothing, and I don’t leave the house without checking myself in the mirror, front AND back. (I learned this after a skirt-tucked-up-in-my-underwear disaster years ago.)
My message to all of us at this age is to LIVE. Who cares if we go to our 45th class reunion and look nothing like our graduation pictures? By all means, let’s be as healthy as we can be, but let’s not let who we once were; young, unlearned, inexperienced–determine who are are NOW.