Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Growing old gracefully

When I was little, I always knew that someday I'd be old. I'd have gray hair and wrinkles, and I'd probably drive an old boat of a car, like my grandmother did. I think most little girls know this. When do they stop knowing it?

Botox, hair dye, cosmetic surgery, wrinkly cream, eye serum, light reflecting crease plumping make up. They even sell little pieces of tape you're supposed to use to give yourself a face lift by taping your eyebrows to your hairline. And it's all because people don't want to look 40 when they're 40.

We all know that half the time, the Hollywood stars who try to fight the clock don't look younger, they just look really surprised, or like The Joker, or just freaky. And that really sucks, because actresses are supposed to be able to play real people, and real people don't look like Delta Burke does now. Who is going to play the grandmothers now? Without any Jessica Tandys or Estelle Gettys, who will play old women? It's bad enough that every 40 year old role is played by some unrealistic mannequin, but the grandmothers too? I really don't want to see a remake of Driving Miss Daisy starring Teri Hatcher. And no one would understand why the people in the new Cocoon ever left Earth at all!

I worry about how attractive my husband finds me. And I worry that I look older than 33. But I honestly don't worry about not looking 21 anymore. In fact, I would love to be able to go and have my dyed-red hair dyed back to its natural color and then just let the gray grow in. I have grays, and I'm fine with that. And there's now a truly horizontal reason I need to wear a bra, not just a stabilizing issue. And that's cool too. And as for wrinkles, bring them on. I have buried friends way too young to die and my thought for each of them was "(S)he didn't get to be old." Being old, and gray and wrinkled and all of it, is a gift. It's a privilege not all of us get to enjoy. I have stretch marks, and parts that are lower than they used to be, and hair that's given up on having color. And I'm okay with that. It occasionally occurs to me that I'm "letting myself go", but sometimes it feels so free to let go. Holding on, especially to the past, just wears you out. I'm fine with looking my age - my real age, not what Hollywood tells me my age should look like .

A great quote from a movie: "There is nothing tragic about being 40, unless you try to be 25 instead."

1 comment:

Shelly said...

I agree. Most women who try to look younger than they are just look ridiculous. I hope to look good for my age, but I'm not going to do anything crazy to achieve that. I will take care of my hair and my face and my body, but I will not try to preserve youth at any cost.