I’ve been silently judging you these past few days (…and periodically in the weeks and months before) for your very personal and legitimate choices about aging naturally (or not so naturally).
Digression: Aging naturally is my terminology of choice for aging without cosmetic treatments because every time I tried to type aging gracefully I cringed. If you have ever had the misfortune of watching me walk, talk, eat, stand, sleep or just generally attempt to exist in the physical world…you’ll know that graceful is a terrible fit when describing me. Natural aging however doesn’t infer any kind of appropriateness to your aging, just that nature is taking it’s course…and THAT I can do!
So back to these 30-somethings (and 40-somethings) I’ve been silently judging from (very) afar (and only ever inside my own head). I’ll admit that I feel let down and disappointed whenever I see yet another woman fall to the lure of cosmetic treatments to erase or mask their fine lines and wrinkles.
I’ve written and re-written this post 4 times now. Each of the forms this post morphed into were loosely related to aging as a woman in my mid-30s…but all of the thoughts and feelings I was unpacking from my mind ended up feeling not quite right. Instead, here I am calling myself out on once again having unrealistic expectations of society, myself and in this instance women of my age-bracket.
This isn’t the world I envisaged. This isn’t the loving embrace I dreamed of for our smile-worn faces, our grin-dimpled thighs, our joyously-slip-and-sliding tits and our bums with bold-aspirations-to-make-contact-with-the-backs-of-our-knees…
It saddens me that the generations a little ways behind us won’t have realistic expectations of their own body’s aging process. I grieve for the little girls who will grow up not realising that there is a beauty and a somewhat comforting inevitability to crows feet, jowls, sagging tums, bums and tits. Aging is part of living and if we women over 35 don’t find beauty in these changes, who will?
Celebrities have been fighting natural aging for as long as I’ve been alive. This is nothing new, but I have noticed it become more common among regular women in the past decade. Affordability and access plays a big part in the increase I’m sure, but the more ‘influencers’ that go down the path of botox, chemical peels and surgery, the more normalised it becomes and the greater the pressure for regular women to ‘take care of those deep lines’ or consider a ‘lift and a tuck’ when they start to not feel like themselves any more.
This, not feeling like yourself any more, symptom of aging is something I can completely relate to:
- …it’s that first glance at yourself in the morning, ‘how did my mother get in my bathroom mirror?‘
- …it’s feeling great in your own skin when you get dressed and ready for that family get together. The next day you are confronted with a photo taken on an angle you wouldn’t normally pose in. You suddenly realise that there’s a disconnect between the woman who left your house in that dress, and the woman everyone else saw at the party
- …it’s suddenly feeling confused and appalled that your tits have gone on strike, revolted against all sense and reason and keep making a beeline for your armpits …
- …it’s looking at yourself in shorts for the first time this year and discovering that despite your weight being about the same you suddenly have some weird saggy flab around the sides of your KNEES! …of all the unexpected places to start sagging, your knees?!
More than anything in our mid-30s and beyond we start to feel confused and a little bit frightened by our own faces and bodies. We desperately want to regain a grip on reality and have our self-perception realign with that lady we spot out of the corner of our eye in the shop window.
Our once round, soft and feminine faces are becoming more angular and, dare I say distinguished? These sharper angles, ever increasing lines, ridges and jowls change the proportions of our face. Our face’s silhouette is changing, it’s not just individual wrinkles or imperfections, it’s a combination of everything coming together to create a face we begin to not recognise.
It’s not just that we look older, it’s that our image of ourselves in our heads hasn’t caught up with the physical reality.
Another thing I wonder about…
If nature requires of us to over time, bit-by-bit lose those vibrant displays of fertility we so carelessly flaunt in our 20s…perhaps our minds, bodies and our life’s purpose should be taking equal strides in a different direction? Sure, you can still work on your personal growth whilst prolonging your ‘youthful glow’, but just maybe, acceptance of our aging is part of the process. If we brush over and prolong our physical aging, are we stunting our growth in a new and exciting stage of the female life course? Are we stealing extra time for our ‘youth’ in exchange for crucial time becoming comfortable in the wiser, less image focused stage our bodies are desperately trying to beckon us into?
Yes, I completely understand why women choose to get stuff injected into their faces, get chemical peels and finally treat themselves to that plastic surgery they couldn’t afford in their 20s. I feel you ladies, I really do…but it still saddens me that this is the world my 35 year old womanhood was birthed into.
…and I’m FINALLY going to just be brave and post this…because a 5th re-write is out of the question…I need to move on with my life! 😀