I’ve been looking a little tired lately. I attributed this to my recent bout of poor sleeping (hello 4a) but as I catch up on my sleep, and things aren’t improving much I’m starting to think, maybe I just look like this now?
A man once told me he was suspect of women who put up profile pictures with sunglasses on. Presumably because the eyes give away one’s real age, and who knows what awful thing is hiding under those shades? I feel the same way about men who put up pictures of sunsets or dogs as an opener. It’s as if to say, I’m not feeling great about what I’m presenting but here’s a puppy to get us started on the right foot.
Women know men don’t want to see our wrinkly eyes and hide them with glasses. Men become wrinkle detectives. It’s a wrinkles cold war. My contrarian nature wants to ditch the fancy eye cream and put up the droopiest eye picture I can find. Take that!
Of course, I don’t. Still, it’s worth thinking about what to accept as I get older. If my luck holds I’m going to get wrinkly, and why should that be so painful? I’m always on the lookout for older women modeling a version of aging that resonates with me. Frances McDormand is one. She is quality and truth embodied. Her face, body, self, are entirely natural. Just looking at her makes me feel less anxious about getting older.
I’m not wanting to be sexy and relevant because of my preternatural ability to look young. I want to be sexy right where I stand, exactly as I am. I’d like my face to age like a fine, linen shirt that’s been worn, loved, left in the sun, maybe taken to a campfire or two. In other words, I’d like the opportunity to get older like the men around me without veering into matronly territory.
Young women need to know they don’t have to compete in the youth and beauty olympics to be relevant. Stay sharp, do good work, develop your charm, and refuse to recede.
My first pass at being forced to accept myself as-is happened at thirty. By then I had been coloring my hair for nearly ten years. It was dark, straight, long, and shiny. I loved it. Out of nowhere I developed an allergy to an ingredient in the dye. For weeks I looked for workarounds, unable to accept the reality I could no longer color my hair.
I finally dragged myself to the salon and had them cut it to about an inch. I cried for two weeks. Once it started growing in I was shocked to find it was about seventy percent white, and that I liked it. It’s now my trademark of sorts, people remember the hair.
It’s a subtle way I let others know I feel good as I am. Unvarnished honesty, both in my look and manner.
Our culture doesn’t make it easy to feel we still deserve attention as we get older. Or, even worse we are desexualized and infantilized. No wonder women feel the need the need to preserve their youth. Who wants to opt out of romance and attraction?
I traded phone numbers with a nice man recently, giving him the correct digits save one. I was waiting for my new eyeglasses and could barely see anything. Thankfully, he had another way to reach me. Age-related eyesight decline, it’s sexy business.
No matter, I got that second date.
The O.G. Silver Fox