Thoughts on Aging

ID-100165497Photo courtesy of tiverylucky

I recently turned forty-five. For some reason, this age bothers me a lot. It’s not the age, really. It’s the process of aging. I know forty-five isn’t old, but I’m beginning to feel my age. And, to add insult to injury, I’ve had a couple people accuse me of being older than I am. Ouch.

With aging comes aches and pain. Sunspots which are the result of not taking care of my skin when I was younger. And sagging and bagging from gravity. I’ve never considered myself to be particularly vain. I don’t wear makeup. I haven’t dyed my hair in years, though I am sorely tempted right now.

I never understood why my mom was so bothered by aging. Not until now. I can’t speak for my mom or for any other woman, but I think aging is bothering me because aging is treated like a disease in our society. Like a character flaw. Age is something we’re supposed to fight with creams and lotions and injections. It’s okay to get older as long as we don’t look our age, if we “age well.”

I haven’t aged well. I’ve just aged.

The thing that really bothers me about all this is that I know I shouldn’t be bothered by it. I’ve sworn I’d age naturally, that I would ignore the voices that told me I had to age a certain way. I didn’t know those voices would come from inside me. I didn’t know I’d suddenly develop a strong urge to buy lightening cream for my sun-spotted hands, or special lotion to banish the crow’s feet. That I’d regret my short, practical “mom” haircut and wish my hair could be long again.

It makes me angry. Angry with myself for caring so much about something as silly as appearance. And angry with a society that devalues older women. It’s no secret that our young women are bombarded with unrealistic images of how women are supposed to look, but it never ends! As we grow older, women are still targeted by advertising campaigns that tell us that no matter the cost, we must not age. We must not sag, bag or wrinkle. They offer us magical creams and potions to erase the crimes of aging. And, of course, all these advertisements feature smooth-skinned, photo-shopped women who make us feel guilty because our skin care regimen isn’t enough. It’s never enough.

Women of all ages are beautiful. Whether we choose to wear makeup, or not. Whether we choose to dye our hair, or not. These are choices – our choices. We shouldn’t wear makeup simply because society tells us our wrinkles or sunspots are unseemly. My youngest daughter wears makeup because she loves it. She’ll probably wear makeup until she’s 100. And that is her choice. My oldest daughter is like me – she rarely wears it and doesn’t particularly care to spend her time messing around with makeup application. That’s her choice. I hope she never feels the pressure to suffer through a “beauty” routine she doesn’t enjoy.

I don’t expect the cosmetic industry to change anytime soon, so I think women need to examine the way we talk about each other. When we talk about women “aging well” or “letting themselves go,” this only reinforces the belief that looks are supreme. When we talk about other women who “dress too young” or who “shouldn’t be wearing that at her age,” we are legitimizing the silly  constraints society has placed on women. Each woman must make her own rules, and it’s up to each of us to give her the freedom to do so.

So far I’ve resisted the urge to buy anti-aging cream and makeup. I might dye my hair. Or I might not. If I do, there’s a good chance it will be purple. It’s time to make my own rules.



13 thoughts on “Thoughts on Aging

  1. I’m 66. I had to get over the “who is that in the mirror” thing when I hit 60. I’ve never acted my age and I don’t plan on starting now. Yes, physical damage has limited some of my more daring adventures. I’ve always used moisturizer but not much more. I wear powder, lipstick, and mascara. I got carded recently when I asked for the senior discount at a restaurant.

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  2. When you have a very limited budget like we have, not having to buy new clothes is a big bonus. I’m still wearing the clothes I bought when I was in my early twenties because my size hasn’t changed and I don’t care what people think of the way I dress. I’m just happy I had the good sense to buy decent clothes in the sales when I got my first job!

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    • I wish I could fit into the clothes I wore in my twenties. I’ve never been very concerned with fashion, but I do have to dress professionally when I go to work. At home, it’s pajama pants and t-shirts. I care much more about comfort than fashion.


  3. Well, I turn 60 this year, Tricia, and I’m as vain as they come. I don’t particularly want to look young again, aside from which that would be impossible. There isn’t a face cream on earth that restores youthful looks, no matter what the adverts say. I dress as I please and couldn’t give a damn what people think about my rather “whacky” style. So you stick with what makes you comfortable and to hell with what society deems “acceptable.”

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  4. I truly enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic. I particularly relate to not wearing makeup, thinking I was not looks conscious and then being shocked at my aged look in photos. I am not bothered by other people looking old but have had to work on accepting my own almost 60 face…your explanations make sense.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Janice. Sometimes I don’t recognize the face staring back at me in the mirror. Where did the time go? Beyond the looks, I’m having a hard time accepting other physical aspects of aging – back pain, hot flashes, not seeing or hearing as well as I used to. I guess I need to accept these things as part of living. Getting older is a gift. It means we’re still living our lives.

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  5. I hate aging because you do feel the aches and pains more and as years go by, you need naps. I love aging because I feel freer. Doesn’t matter what you wear – younger people look at you and smile as if you’re senile. Plus, as you age younger storeclerks become terrified that you may chew their butts off. Just crinkle those eyebrows at them and watch the fun.

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