I hate those magazine articles where an “aging” celebrity gushes about how happy she is to be in her fifties. I don’t want to hear how comfortable she is with her appearance, and I especially don’t want to hear how she thinks she has never looked better. Call me a skeptic, but I’m pretty sure she’s lying. And even if she’s not, I think, “Of course you’re happy with your looks! You have a full-time personal trainer, you can afford a top plastic surgeon, a professional make up artist and a hair dresser who can work miracles!”
But what about the rest of us? Those who see new wrinkles in the mirror, but can’t always afford to have them smoothed out surgically? Those who don’t have a personal trainer and a gym membership, but are trying to make due with control-top panty hose instead? It’s harder to love the aging body when you don’t have expensive, expert assistance to help you cope.
I make an honest effort to eat right and exercise regularly. I dye my hair, use moisturizers and anti-aging creams, even give myself the occasional facial. But I most definitely don’t think I have “never looked better.” My eyesight may be fading, but it hasn’t gotten that bad. I see the wrinkles; I notice the sags. And I wonder why I was so critical of my face and body back when I was young and wrinkle-free!
So, like middle-aged women everywhere, I just do the best with what I have. I search for a better concealer, try yoga classes and experiment with new hairstyles. I’ve discovered that bangs and longer hair, slightly curved around my face, can hide a lot. So can turtleneck sweaters and big, dark sunglasses.
But mostly, I try very hard to accept the way I look now and to let go of the fruitless need to try to stop time and keep the face and body I used to have. This is the new me, flaws and all. It’s not that I’m giving up on trying to look nice. It’s just that I want to begin treating myself now the way I wish I had treated myself when I was in my twenties. Which means to stop being so self-critical, focus on the positive, and give myself a break from unrealistic expectations. And remember that the day will come when I see a photo of me at this age and think, “What was I complaining about? I looked just fine!”