Growing To Embrace Growing Older

When I was 21, I started to notice that some gray hair was beginning to sprout. That was my first introduction to aging, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was young and cute and had the world by the you-know-whats! Now I am 27, and that gray hair is coming in something fierce. I’m far from old, but the suggestion of aging is beginning to manifest itself on my face. I’ve noticed I’ve developed laugh lines, for example. Oh, how I regret all the jokes and laughter!  I should have emulated the demeanor of little Vicky from “Small Wonder.” I bet she still looks 12.

When you are young, you simply can’t wrap your mind around not being young. Those old fogies are like Martians! In your mind, you will forever be a compact and pretty young woman. Society tells us that we are useless hunks of crap once we turn 40, so it’s hard to have a healthy attitude about aging.

Fortunately, when I look at pictures of myself when I was younger, I mostly feel relief. Thank goodness I no longer wear dresses that look as if they were stolen from an obese elderly woman in the circus. Man, it’s as if I went out of my way to make my body look like a sack of ham hocks. When I was younger, I also had no money, so I bought clothes that didn’t fit just because they were on sale. Sure these jeans make me look like I’m wearing a diaper, but they’re only $15! My face is also no longer round and Cabbage Patch-like, so people don’t pinch my cheeks unsolicited anymore. I also no longer date losers with bad grammar and mediocre guitar skills, which has really improved my self-esteem.

I grow more comfortable with myself as I grow older. I know what clothes look good on me and I don’t obsess over what people may think of me because I realize how little people actually do think of me. It’s liberating, really.  I have also partly come to terms with the Buddhist idea of the body as a sort of bondage. Our bodies are temporary …and often pretty gross and unattractive. It’s important to embrace this — maybe one day those diaper jeans will actually come in handy.

Aging is a complicated experience for most women. Even those with a positive self image struggle. I wear sunscreen and eye cream ever day as preventative measures, even though I don’t obsess over getting old. I dye my gray hair because I’m not quite ready to be a silver-haired lady. In sum, I have mostly come to terms with the inevitable but there are, of course, vestiges of resistance.

I wonder, though, about those women who base their entire identities on their looks. What happens when they begin to wither? What the hell will Kim Kardashian do when she gets old? Perhaps she’ll sell some nice products on QVC. Perhaps she’ll have a reality TV show that documents the deterioration of her butt.  I’m so glad I’ve spent my life cultivating my brain, so when I do get old, I won’t freak out and inject poison into my face and look like all those celebrities who, as my brother has pointed out, resemble frightened cats.

[Photo By geishaboy500]

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