While we’re waiting to see which topic wins out on my last post’s poll, I thought I’d talk about something that has been on my mind lately. Namely, aging and how Western society responds to it.
There seems to be a weird feeling that being older than 25-30 is a terrible thing, especially for women…so much so that there’s a term for it in certain parts of the internet: “Hitting the Wall”. A phrase that used to belong solely to athletes has been redefined for use when describing the human body, and again, women’s in particular. Why?
In an age where both men and women are living longer than ever, is one’s 26th birthday truly a deathknell? With proper diet, no smoking, moderated drinking, daily exercise, and good hygiene, is turning 30 really still one foot in the grave? From some people’s perspective, yes…which is why we see both sexes opting for Botox treatments and liposuction to keep the threat of “looking older” away.
True, there are some things about aging that can make it a sobering experience. Men can get erectile dysfunction and have to turn to pharmaceuticals like Viagra. They begin to lose muscle mass and testosterone, and it becomes much more difficult to keep the “beer belly” away.
Women too, suffer some ill effects. Menopause signals the end of childbearing years, and may cause osteoporosis and vaginal dryness. Like with men, it becomes harder to stay in shape. And of course, both sexes get wrinkles and lose skin elasticity.
But guess what? This happens to everybody! Everyone ages, everyone goes through the cycle of life, everyone goes from baby to youth to adult to senior. You can fight it all you want, but it *will* happen. Wouldn’t it be better to embrace each additional year and make the most of it? Yes, it means getting older, but remember that what you may lose in looks you make up for in knowledge, and accomplished goals!
When you’re older, people respect you more. Your wrinkles are a badge of a life well lived…experiences that helped make you who you are, that created the person that is you and nobody else. You are the proud owner of many decades of wisdom that only *you* can share.
I remember sitting at my great-grandmother’s knee as a child, listening in amazement as she reminisced about her voyage to America from Germany, her desire to work hard alongside her husband in their new homeland, her stories of growing up in “the old country” in the early 1900’s. She was old, extremely wrinkled, overweight, and tended to slip back into her native language during long stories. But her eyes were still bright, her hair a beautiful gleaming silver, her voice strong and proud, and her fingers quick on her sewing needles. Even as a child of 6, I did not see a woman made low by lack of youth…I saw a powerful family matron who had an entire lifetime to share.
I welcome my advancing years, and the respect that will come with it. When I finally get a grey hair, I will rejoice. When I get deeper crow’s feet, I’ll smile. When I’m at last old enough to receive menopause, I’ll cry tears of happiness. And when I get my first wrinkle, I’ll laugh, remember my lovely oma, and pray that when I “hit the wall” I do so as wonderfully as she did.
Edited to add
Some emails and comments have come in asking if this post is satire, or accusing me of “being blind to the reality of female aging and it’s impact on feminine worth”. I’d like to take this opportunity to say;
1. No, this is not satire. Every word written here us how I truly feel about the concept of aging.
2. While I agree that women are still thought of having value related directly to their physical attractiveness, I don’t agree that this is the total sum of their worth…much in the same way a man’s paycheck is not the sum of his worth.
Hope this clears things up.
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