Girl Talk: Getting Older

Fuck You AARP
Fuck You AARP (Photo credit: martymadrid)

Some things about getting older are funny as hell.

Like, when you turn 50 and you get the AARP card in the mail. I resented it when I got mine. Did I ask you for this card?  Turning 50 was interesting enough without getting that little reminder. There’s something about being half a century old that takes a few minutes to get used to.

But other things are funny. Like gray hair in the eyebrows and eyelashes. When you’re younger, you don’t think about the fact that all hair on one’s body has the capacity to turn gray. I first noticed a gray hair in my eyelashes while I was driving, and looking for hairs on my chin in my rear view mirror.

Those, too, are funny.

But my eyelashes? Seriously? Once I saw that, I would do a witch hunt every day, looking for the little unwanted visitors, tweezers in hand. And yes, I did tweeze them until I realized they were not really growing back, gray or otherwise. While I hated (and still do) the gray eyelashes, the alternative of not having them at all was not acceptable.

Chin hairs! What in the world? They come onto our chins, again uninvited, and stick out, like little sticks. There are gray ones there, too. Sometimes you cannot see the little gray ones, but you can feel them. I thought about making it explicit that when I die, whomever “does” me makes sure the chin hairs are gone.

I am fortunate; I don’t have stiff joints, and my health is good, but the physical signs of getting older have truly amused me. Once, when I was a tad late in getting the rinse on my hair to get rid of the gray, a guy came up to me and said, “look at all that gray!” Oooh! Needless to say, I left church and went to get my rinse.

Then there are the wrinkles. I have deep wrinkles in my forehead, so I have gotten a couple of creams to see if I can lessen them. How about NOT?  Every time I hear the commercial that says, “Is your anti-wrinkle cream gone…but your wrinkles are not?” I laugh out loud. I am not going to do Botox, and walk around with a frozen face, but the deep creases in my forehead kind of make me laugh. They are stubborn and are here to stay.

The cellulite is pretty interesting. How did that happen? I can remember seeing “old” women with “funny looking legs,” and now I am one as well. Seriously?   Will doing my ballet stretches help to alleviate that? Time will tell…but geez! Who invited the cellulite? It came stealthily, quietly, and when I look at my legs, I promise it looks like the cellulite is smiling at me, victorious.

This process of transitioning from what we used to look like to being “older women.”  is immensely interesting …and funny!  My sister said she passed a mirror once and backed up and looked again, asking, “Who is that old lady?”  How about I know that moment well.

Everything changes. Our necks change, and Kathy Lee Gifford says that we get “peach pits” instead of sexy cleavage. That hasn’t happened to me yet, but I suppose it’s coming.

I am not complaining. I am glad to be older, yet alive and healthy. I do not think being attractive or not looking old is the ticket to having a good, full life. I have plenty of friends who are not so old, and who are very attractive, who have empty lives. Mine is not empty, nor will I allow it to be.

But it is funny how this physical part of  getting older thing just kind of crept up on me. I concentrate on eating well and being active so that no matter how old I am, I feel good. There are some things I’d like to do before I get too old to enjoy them like I’d like to, things like visiting the Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China.

I am writing this because I am hoping that more and more of us women are looking at ourselves getting older and are smiling, not panicking or becoming depressed.  The cosmetic industry absolutely counts on us panicking and spending tons of money on creams that will never get rid of our wrinkles, but make us feel like we’re doing something to fight the inevitable.

Rather than spazzing out over getting older, it would be nice if we just “walk in it,” and be as elegant and as classy as we can, kind of like Helen Mirren or Betty White or the late Lena Horne. Better that we thank God for one more day, wrinkles and all, than to waste a single moment being sad that we are going to get older and continue moving away from our young, fresh look, no matter what we do.

We are no longer young and fresh; we are seasoned and mature. We are beautiful, that beauty defined by the trials and experiences we have been through. Better that we bask in that reality than to create or recreate something that will never be again.

Getting older is funny…but a blessing.

A candid observation …

Girl Talk: Older Women Aging Nicely

English: Madonna at the premiere of I Am Becau...
Image via Wikipedia

I am not a fan of Madonna, nor have the half-time shows at Super Bowls interested me in quite some time.

But I found it quite interesting on Sunday when Madonna, sporting 5-inch heels and before a live audience, stumbled slightly. While there were a number of reasons to comment on Madonna’s performance, the comments surrounding her stumble, with an air of incredulity that this “older” woman would wear 5 inch heels, kind of grated me.

What’s the big deal? If she’s able, at age 53, to wear 5-inch heels, and hold her own, what’s the big deal if she stumbles some?

She’s obviously in good shape and she has some talent. I found myself wondering if Paul McCartney or Lionel Ritchie had been performing and had stumbled if the newscasters would have commented on their age as the obvious reason.

When a man gets older, and has gray or silver gray hair, he is regarded as distinguished and handsome, but when a woman gets older, she’ll do well, most of the time, to cover that gray and do something to get rid of her wrinkles as quickly as possible. I saw a woman just this past weekend whose face looked frozen; it looked as though she’d had more cosmetic procedures than any person ought to, and it just made me sad.

What’s most interesting to me is that no matter how many cosmetic procedures women do, the label “older woman” is still with her, and for some, that reality is depressing and troubling. Instead of being able to celebrate having come through the storms of life in one piece, too many of us grow frantic at the signs of age, and we miss out on the grace and blessing of being older.

I am proud of Madonna for putting on her 5-inch heels and doing …Madonna. I used to love watching Tina Turner for the same reason. Age ought not make us want to hide; it ought to make us strut. There is nothing quite so beautiful as an older woman aging nicely…

A candid observation…


Girl Talk: “Being” vs.”Doing”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Image via Wikipedia

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said something to the effect that everybody wants to “be” somebody instead of wanting to “do” something that will change the world.

I would probably edit her observation to say that we want to “be” somebody who is physically beautiful, rather than be like an unattractive woman who actually changed the world.

I didn’t like Margaret Thatcher’s politics, but she was a woman who knew herself and who walked in her strengths. It seemed that she was not at all consumed with looking a certain way so that she could be labeled as an attractive woman. In spite of her skill as a leader of a major world power, one almost never hears little girls saying they would like to be like her, or like Hillary Clinton, or like Mary McLeod Bethune.

No, young girls, egged on by their mothers, would rather “be” the next Paris Hilton (for whatever reason, I do not understand), or like Marilyn Monroe or Beyonce Knowles. The desire to “be”  is based much on how these women looked, not what they have done in or for the world.

If we complain that we considered to be sex objects rather than human beings, then we have ourselves to blame as much as the men about whom we complain. I have watched snippets of parents putting their very young daughters in beauty pageants, teaching them to capitalize on their looks, rather than learning their gifts and talents and building upon those things.

The tendency of white parents to push their daughters forward as sex objects is no less regrettable than black parents pushing their sons to aspire to be professional athletes.  In both cases, the little girls and boys become objects that will be used to make someone else big bucks, even after their beauty or athletic ability has long gone.

The hardest part about watching us women trying to “be” somebody else rather than to “do” something of significance in and for the world is that it is always futile to try to be somebody else. No matter how hard one tries, all one can be is oneself. Yes, we can get tummy tucks and dye our hair and get breast implants and any number of other things to enhance or change what people see, but in the end, I find myself wondering if we do that at the expense of taking care of how we feel.

It is good that beauties are all around us. Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Natalie Morales – there are so many beautiful women who are also doing things.

It would be a good thing if we began to teach our daughters that it is OK to look at someone and admire how they look, and even take tips on how we might fix our hair or makeup…but that it is never OK to lose ourselves in trying to be someone else.

At the end of the day, the beauty and sexiness for which we crave are so fleeting. Long after beauty fades and being “sexy” doesn’t work anymore, the world would be better if it had more women who decided that, just as they were, they were better than just “OK,” and who forged ahead to help pave the way for real change in a very troubled and complex world.

A candid observation …