I hit the 40-year mark this year, and while I’m not old, I’m certainly older.
I might still feel 20 on the inside, but my body is starting to tell a different story. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my hands and think they belong to my mom. Or wake up to my 6-year-old crying because the skin on my chest “looks like Nana,” and she doesn’t want me to be old.
And haven’t we all seen ourselves in pictures and thought, “Is that what I look like?”
There’s sagging here and creases there, and I wonder how much I’m supposed to intervene to try and reverse things. More importantly, I think about whether I want to intervene at all.
There’s currently a movement embracing gray hair. I haven’t had to cover grays yet, but I admire people who have let their hair go au naturel. They probably struggle with whether they’re pulling off “intentionally cool” gray hair or “I missed my hair appointment” gray hair.
The same goes for wrinkles. Personally, I’m not interested in Botox or fillers, but it doesn’t mean I love my wrinkles. I try to keep my face glowing with proper skincare and some makeup every day, but it’s hard not to feel worn next to smooth faces all around me.
And even if you’re thin, there’s still a lot of pressure to be fit and toned too. Wiggly arms, soft bellies, saddlebags, and goodness forbid, cellulite are just not in.
People claim that you care less about what people think as you age. I don’t know if that’s true. It seems like the tailored faces in Hollywood, the popular posts on social media, and the increasingly ever-youthful bodies around Fairfield County tell a different story.
That story seems to be that looking old is not OK. It seems especially true if you are a woman.
I’m certainly not criticizing women for the choices they make about their bodies. I have friends who color their hair, and those that don’t, those that do Botox, and others who are holding out. All of them are beautiful because they are funny, intelligent, confident, kind and bold.
Looking older isn’t always fun, and I understand why people want to stay youthful. I guess I feel sad that women are consistently held to an unrealistic standard. It feels like women are constantly struggling to feel beautiful.
I want to be able to grow old naturally. I want to do what I can to stay healthy by exercising, eating right, and using sunscreen. I want to feel like I’m allowed to look older.
I’m not planning to let myself go, but I am planning to let myself be.
With a daughter hitting her pre-teen years, being comfortable in my (older) skin seems even more important. Looks aren’t everything; we don’t have to mold ourselves to fit what society says is beautiful. It’s a good reminder no matter what age we are.