Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Age-related thoughts

Appreciating Your Value as You Age
By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS Published: March 17, 2010 New York Times

From the article:

The pursuit of beauty increases anxiety as women age; two doctors and former models have a book to suggest answers.

Sixty isn’t the new 40. “That’s an outright lie,” Dr. Lynn said. “What is true is 60
is the new 60.””

“As Betty Friedan once said of a woman’s later years, “If you are going to pretend
it’s youth, you are going to miss it.””

Ann Kearney-Cooke, 54, an expert in body image in Cincinnati, said the message those
grandmothers heard as their looks went was insulting: “You’re not going to be
pumping out babies anymore — you’re not as much use to society.”


This article’s been swimming around my brain for days now. I loved, "60 is the new 60," I think the most striking statement of the article.

As I meet people and go places, I invariably get mistaken for someone in their twenties. I admit, I don’t act very mature. I don’t dress very mature. I’m easy going, quick to laugh and not terribly adult. While it‘s flattering to be mistaken for someone a lot younger, it’s also a weird feeling. When someone discovers my true age, it’s unsettling to them. And almost embarrassing to me. Like I need to apologise for my appearance. Like it’s trickery. I’ve had someone naively ask, “How come you look so young then?” I don’t know. The people I think are my age are much younger. The people who I think look much older are my age. It seems like a circular joke. How am I supposed to be with people who are my age when I can’t figure it out myself?

And what is it with all of us wanting to be younger? Why is youth such a prize? What about the wisdom that comes with more time on earth? Isn't there a prize in that?

Last weekend I was hanging out with a crowd of people of various ages, all younger, and met some people who were my age, and the mental attraction was very strong. Almost like a fffshhhttt feeling. Someone with the same life experience. People in the same place in life.

It was an opener of an experience, sitting there, realizing how much I liked people who were in my same station.

But it also left me wondering. When I asked the one guy his age, he said with hesitation, 35, like he was old as dirt. Revealing a secret. And told me how it was different when you got older, it was harder to disrupt your life and your career.

Shit, of course, it’s harder. I know. I did it post- thirty. And I continue to do it, into my thirties…

So how does this tie into the article? It’s partly the importance of being young, the importance of looking young, that our society has placed as one of it’s highest values. Does it mean that no one is satisfied with their looks, always trying to be younger, always trying to look better, thinner, more attractive?

Someone last weekend remarked that I was skinny, though I am just the same as always. It was relative to the people who I was with. I am relatively skinny. I am relatively young-looking. I am relatively smart. I am relatively a lot of things. A lot of things are about comparing yourself to others. What about being happy with yourself compared to yourself? That’s a more difficult matter.

The bottom line is we can't pretend appearance doesn't matter. It does.

This article begs us to question why we think the things we do about our looks before we rush off to get the next lotion or surgery or new clothes. It's high time we ask these questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like this! I will be the NEW 63 in just a few days - I am happy with that, loved 40, loved 50 and will probably even love 70. Age is an attitude not a number - of course the immaturity and capacity for laughing at inappropriate times that you inherited probably came from me. Keep having fun!
love, auntie dj