Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Aging or ... Arrival!
Today, this post is brought to you because of inspiration provided by:
Chicatanyage and her post "Coming of Age"
Une Femme and her post "Who Do You Think You Are?"
and Michellebeth and her post "Women We Love: Christine Lagarde"
If you have not yet, please pop over to their sites and read their posts. And don't miss the comments, especially those for "Who Do You Think You Are?" Seems lots of us are thinking about these very subjects. That makes sense as we move into this most introspective time of the year.
And I'm happy to report that I've found that, after all these years, I'm wrong about one of my most cherished misconceptions about aging.
I always thought, when I reached the age I am now, I would look a little like Helen Hayes.
If I was lucky. There weren't that many role models for our most mature years around in those days. My maternal grandmother had that soft look. She wore purple, real pearls, and kept her gray hair a very pale blue-gray or light purple, depending on how carried away she got with her "brightener". She wouldn't have completely colored her hair for fear of looking cheap or too "tough," like this scary version of the often beautiful Joan Crawford.
I was always short and round in face and figure. For a very little while, I thought I might have a chance to grow into the same phenotype as the tall, willowy girls in "Sixteen" magazine. I was soon disabused of that notion, when I learned a little more about biology and all matters genetic. But hope doesn't always die easily. Even after accepting that I'd always be short, I never gave up hope that someday I'd get it right somehow before I got too old. Before I had to start dressing like an old lady, quit wearing makeup and start wearing nothing but sensible shoes, long sleeves, even longer hems and high collars.
But to my gradual and happy surprise, old age hasn't been nearly as unkind to me as I thought it would. My cheekbones have emerged a little from the old chubby-cheeks. The slight shrinking of my jaw bones (ew!) have given me a face more oval than round. Miraculously, the same bone shrinkage has made the unattractive, slightly hawk-like curve of my nose less prominent. My general avoidance of outdoor activities that involved getting sweaty in the hot sun was once a social drawback. But a lot of those sunbathing beauties that I so envied in my youth now have a lot more wrinkles than I do. Ha! I've finally learned how to keep my weight where I want it (quick ... find some wood and knock on it!) And Sara Blakely came along and invented comfortable Spanx just in time to deal with those figure problems that weight loss won't cure. I'm not the least bit uncomfortable in admitting that I color my hair. While I will support my sisters-in-age to the bitter end defending their right to go gray beautifully, I still think it makes a woman look older.
But that's the great thing. I don't mind looking older nearly as much as I though I would, and there is no particular way I have to look. I don't suddenly have to put away all thoughts of style and act my age. And those women who don't color don't have to either.
That's not just my own positive self-talk. The articles that I cite at the beginning of this one are just a few among many on this topic that we are beginning to see everywhere. We have generations of women behind us to thank for this current confidence, and sheer numbers of Boomer women who are no longer willing to be relegated to the cultural ice-flows that remove the elderly from sight or influence. Every day, there are more women who are speaking out and acting out in all fields of endeavor. Many of us are doing it via our own blogs, making our own contributions by creating community, showing out and showing off.
So, I admit I was wrong. I never thought I'd finally like the way I look now, in my 60s, even though I don't look young. For me, maturity has taken on the feel of an arrival. In this, I feel like I've come into my own at last.
Here's to being wrong and happily surprised.