I was watching a show on HGTV the other day, and the couple that was house-hunting described the house they were being shown as a “mid-century modern with good bones.” They went on to lavish praise on the house’s classic lines, its solid foundation and minimalist charm. Next they were shown an even older house, which they also liked. They thought it had tons of potential, and it was described as an “aging beauty” whose creaky floors, cracked walls and and other flaws gave it a “timeless charm and character.” They couldn’t wait to restore it to its former glory.
And that’s when it hit me. I want people to judge me by the same standards they use to judge houses.
Think about it. I was born in 1958, which means that I’m not really old, I’m just a “mid-century modern.” And I’m sure I have good bones, even if they are covered up by drooping muscles and sagging skin. My beauty is certainly minimalist, but if you think of me the way you think of a house, then that’s actually a good thing. Even better, when I’m a bit older, I can look forward to being thought of as an “aging beauty,” whose wrinkles and creaky joints are simply considered charming. I won’t be old, I’ll just be historic. And possibly valuable.
If I were a house, people would think that the fact that my bottom half is significantly larger than my top half only meant that I have a “good foundation.” My age would mean that I was “solidly built” and well put together. When I approach the make-up counter at a department store, the clerk would be eager to bring out my hidden potential and restore my former beauty, rather than simply recommending a very strong anti-aging cream combined with a really good concealer.
The benefits of being judged by the same standards as a house are many, but if that’s not possible, I can also still think of other alternatives. These days, trendy neighborhoods abound with vintage clothing stores, and they aren’t especially cheap. If the same standards were applied to me, I’d be a “vintage” woman, not a middle-aged or old one. Or I can be thought of as a fine wine, which we all know improves with age. I like to think that I’m improving as I grow older, even if it doesn’t particularly show on the outside.
I know that judging others is something we all do occasionally, despite our best efforts to the contrary. It seems to be part of human nature. But since it’s so easy to see the value in older houses, wine and clothing, I can’t help but think how of nice it would be if we could see that same value in older people….