Certain birthdays seem especially momentous in one’s life, and this month, I have a biggie coming up: I will be turning….45 years old.
(Ouch. It stings to type that out: I am turning FORTY FIVE this month.)
I don’t know about y’all, but that seems really old to me. And frankly, I don’t want to be old. I don’t want to look old, or feel old, and I don’t want other people to perceive me as being old.
Is that so wrong?
And if it is wrong, why do I – and pretty much every other woman I know – feel that way??
I never want to be one of those women who are obviously trying too hard to cling to an age long past, but there are certain things I just find hard to accept about what aging is starting to do to me in the past five years. For example, I am getting quite a few gray hairs these days, and as I have already made clear, that just ain’t happenin’ – not anytime soon anyway.
And I am seeing my very first agey-looking areas of discoloration on my skin and hands and lower arms. I have always been somewhat obsessive about skin care – including sun protection – so I think I’ve held off some of the skin changes that other women my age may have already started experiencing, but I can’t completely beat back mother nature, no matter how many peptides and amino acids and special fruit oils I rub all over my face and body every day. Now that I am seeing these minor but noticeable-to-me changes in my skin tone, I am considering actually visiting a dermatologist for the first time in my life to find out whether I should consider something like Retin-A or a peel or some such similar thing. I am also on the hunt for a new line of skin care for “mature” skin to supplement my beloved, multiple-times-daily application of classic Olay SPF 15, which I use not just on my face, but elsewhere too. (If any of y’all have any product recommendations, please share. I’d love that.)
So yes, I have some control over my skin and my hair, and I continue to battle to take off the extra 20 pounds that remain from my last pregnancy two years ago. These things I can feel that I have some ability to impact, but I know that I really have none at all over other physical changes that aging is bringing to my body, more rapidly these days as the result of all the stress I’ve experienced in the past several years.
For example, my jawline is drooping ever so slightly these days. It may not be noticeable to anyone else, but I am embarrassed to admit that I notice it immediately every time I see a photo of myself lately. And when I turn my head, there are creases in my neck and chest that just don’t look…young, you know? And much like Hilary Clinton (with whom I share a certain roundness of face), the sides of my mouth are starting to sort of take a turn south, and I can tell that by the time I reach Secretary Clinton’s age and beyond, there will be little I can do to turn my frown upside down, if you know what I mean.
(Having said this, let me be clear that I think Secretary Clinton is an amazing, beautiful and dynamic woman for whom I hold huge respect. I am in no way being critical of her appearance. I think she looks better in her mid-60s than she did in her 30s, and has really become something of a style icon for grown up working women. I am only using her as a physical doppelganger in this single instance because seriously, my almost-45-year-old mouth is going to look exactly like hers in a few years – NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.)
So you see, there are things about aging that I simply cannot change. They are beyond my ability to manipulate much or control. But there is one fundamental thing that I know I COULD change if I wanted to – something that has quite a lot of impact on how people perceive women in our culture – and that is my actual age.
Yes, I know I cannot actually cause some sort of rip in the time space continuum that would literally peel the years back, but I could lie about my age. I could tell people that I am turning 39 this year, instead of 45. They might be skeptical, but if I were confident in my claim and stuck with it, maybe people would buy it. Yep, I could definitetely start lying about my age.
And don’t you think for one minute that the idea of attempting such an age scam hasn’t crossed my mind as growing older becomes more of a reality for me. I mean, other people do it, right? I don’t know who they are, but I am sure there are women – and men too – all around me every day who are lying about their age. I happen to work in a very youth-focused industry – digital media – so in my profession, I have to think that there are at least some people who say they are 38 when they are actually 42, should the subject of age come up.
But…I just can’t do it. For starters, I have teenage children who would out me, after teasing me mercilessly for attempting such a thing. And speaking of teenagers, as much as I am trying to be honest about my struggles with accepting the physical changes that come with being a woman getting older in a youth-obsessed society, I also want to convey to my 17 year old daughter that women’s value does not diminish at the same rate that her head accumulates those gray hairs I so do not want to see. That balance of both accepting aging and also allowing myself to enjoy pushing it back to some degree is hard for us mothers who are trying to instill a sense of self worth in our daughters that isn’t based on physical appearance.
So this all leads me to my question for other mothers reading this – well, several questions, actually (and remember you can comment using a psuedonym): how old are you? Are you beginning to see any physical signs of getting older than are hard to accept? What do you do about them? Would you ever lie about your age? Why or why not? And last but not least: any good recommendations for skin care products I should try?
Let’s talk about aging in the comments below. Ready, set, GO.
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)