You know when you read something and you say “wow,” wish I had written this? This is how I felt when I read this piece on aging (or anti-aging) by freelance writer and journalist D. A. Wolf. And although I had never spoken to her before, I reached out on Twitter and asked her if I could run it on Flashfree.
We’re bursting some big bubbles today, the type that convince us that aging is a four-letter word. And it’s never a better time to remind ourselves that this line of thinking couldn’t be further than the truth.
I thought it was the usual – a skinnied-down version of a new magazine in a world gone virtual. Daring, I thought – attempting any sort of print publication in this age of the Internet. So I set aside the bills from the mailbox, and sat down instead to page through.
I hadn’t recognized the woman on the cover. Only after reading the table of contents did I glance back and scrutinize the face, discovering an 80s icon in the plumped, smoothed, and limpid likeness.
I won’t say who it was; I will say I was disappointed. The person gazing back at me seemed pleasant enough, somewhere in that tinkered-with range of 40 to 60, yet she spun no stories and held only the slightest resemblance to the woman I once watched and listened to.
I skimmed the lead article, and thumbed through the rest.
Hmm, I thought. A lot of sponsored copy.
Then I realized it was nearly all sponsored: lasik from my local clinic, Botox from the dermatologist in the nearby office park, full-fledged nips and tucks or, mini-lifts if you prefer.
A vibrant smile?
Not a problem. There were befores and afters from at least a half dozen providers of dental implants or pearly veneers.
Many to choose from.
There were case studies on European creams, on heart healthy diets, on the advantages of the now-accepting-new-members senior spa and health club. There were pictures and paragraphs on every conceivable cosmetic procedure.
I paged back to see the name of the publisher and more about the contributing writers. This thinly veiled advertising circular was little more than a targeted set of “senior services,” all of which were spouting the advantages of anti-aging this, anti-aging that.
Which is when it hit me, which isn’t to say it hasn’t occurred to me previously.
Anti-aging? Wouldn’t that mean death?
Shouldn’t we be pro keeping our eyes and ears open and making reasoned choices, including rejecting the concept that we must always appear young? Why is every sign of aging “bad?”
- Why are my joyful laugh lines to be expunged?
- Why must my abdomen reject the ripples that show I carried babies?
- Why is aging – especially as a woman – so sorrowful that we feel “less” than worthy of love, worthy of jobs, worthy as people?
Why had this lovely 80s star allowed her individuality to be cosmetically and digitally altered?
I may not like the loosening of skin in all its inevitable places, but isn’t that natural and not without its own beauty? Is it impossible for us to appreciate the entirety of the package, rather than pointing to the shiniest wrapping and saying that is all that matters? Can’t we focus on health and its obvious advantages?
Of course I’m aware of ageist prejudice.
Of course I’m aware of my lessening marketability.
But doesn’t accepting the prevailing “wisdom” of fighting aging tooth and nail mean condoning that we are valueless as we mature?
I try to eat well, I walk when I can, I paint my gray, and I love to dress in a feminine fashion. I put on my mascara and gloss, and God knows I adore my shoes. I won’t say “never” to the possibility of a tweak someday, but nor will I apologize for my age, and with it – my acquired wisdom, my sexual maturity, and my stubborn vitality.
And I won’t be told that “aging” is anything other than natural.
Maybe it’s time we shifted our thinking, we the women of 40 and 50 and 60 and older – and rather than fighting our years, fight for them. So give me Meryl and give me Helen. Let’s toot our handsome horns and flaunt our fabulous fuller figures, knowing that great glow is more than show, and not the entitlement of a single demographic.
About the author…
D. A. Wolf is a freelance writer, journalist, marketer, trainer, single parent, art collector, polyglot, traveler, and devotee of exquisite footwear & French lingerie. She believes we are all brimming with glorious contradictions, and capable of living fully – with whatever life dishes out, and whatever we can make of it. You can find a lot more of D. A. and her brilliant self at her blog, Daily Plate of Crazy.
Great blog and very well written. I truly hope younger women read this and realize that aging gracefully is a beautiful thing!
Thank you for reading and commenting, Maggie. What an intriguing way to frame things - that in fact, all this "anti-aging" energy may be stunting our growth. When I think of all the time (and talk and money) spent stressing over a "youthful" appearance rather than focusing on health, learning, community, and contribution - it seems to me you may have something there.
Hi --Thanks for speaking up and saying (writing!) what so many of us have been thinking for years! Isn't aging just a visual manifestation of our hard-earned experience, wisdom and...personal growth? Could all this anti-aging be 'stunting our growth'? Are we saying "no, thank you" to a vital part of the human experience? It's easy to be AGAINST something (especially aging...who isn't?) but it takes courage to be FOR something. I'm with you -- let's fight for our years, even if we do age in the process!