Waiting to “Hit the Wall”

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.

Related (Outside) Posts
http://broadblogs.com/2013/08/28/beauty-self-esteem-and-aging/

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17 thoughts on “Waiting to “Hit the Wall”

  1. “In an age where both men and women are living longer than ever, is one’s 26th birthday truly a deathknell? ”

    Of course not. Even centuries ago, 26 was not a death knell. The average life length was only low due to infant mortality, but if you survived this period, you could live as long as now almost. Hitting the Wall is just a concept for sexual attractiveness to men. Because men (even gay ones, I hear) have one main sexual attractor, and that is looks. When you “hit the wall”, less men are attracted to you, and those men are themselves less attractive, just like you. I’m not that bothered by it, because I can find beauty in a large range of men, but it can be bad for those who want more.

    “Wouldn’t it be better to embrace each additional year and make the most of it? ”

    We definitely should make the most of it, because we don’t have an infinite time here on earth.

    ” 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.”

    Lol! Wisdom and experiences – yes, please. Wrinkles – no thanks 🙂 Just because they accompany wisdom, doesn’t mean they are good and I should be happy to get them.

    ” 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. ”

    I don’t want to be mean by saying this, but when we’re old, we’d be lucky to have someone still care about us. Having children helps, but even those might move away to another city to live. Or patiently wait for you to die, so they can have your apartment. So take care of that health, and hope you stay relatively self-sufficient until you suddenly drop dead, skipping the incapacitated period alltogether.

  2. @Emma

    “Just because they accompany wisdom, doesn’t mean they are good and I should be happy to get them.”

    Fair enough. I recognize that it may be weird to want at least a few wrinkles, but surely you wouldn’t *want* to look 20 your whole life?

    Or maybe other people do…I don’t know. To each their own. 🙂

    “So take care of that health, and hope you stay relatively self-sufficient until you suddenly drop dead…” While that is an ideal, I am unsure how often that actually happens. Of course, one should be healthy their entire life especially if (like myself) one has no spouse or children at all. The future will bring what the future will bring, but I agree that being active and healthy is a good idea at any stage of life.

  3. I’ll try to make the most of it, but to welcome it? Ha! Tears of joy. I’ve had white/transparent/alternating-between-black-and-transparent hairs since last year, when I was 19. And I refuse to pluck them, but to rejoice? That last paragraph was especially entertaining, because however truthful it is, I’m sorry, it reads like fiction!

  4. ‘Women too, suffer some ill effects’
    My dear Sophia, this statement right hear bears the feeling of ego-protection in place. You proceed to list a problem with men getting older, and that because women ‘too’ suffer we are somehow in the same fate. This is not true.

    Biologically, men are still ‘fertile’ into much older age, whereas girls are not. It is that simple. Women are attracted to power/prestige/money, and older males tend to have that more. Males are attracted to looks, which older women do not.

    Also, the wall is a general concept -rooted in reality certainly- but not a death sentance. Work out, eat right (get some implants!) and you will have that hot MILF status in no time.

  5. @BroadBlogs

    While I think that aging shouldn’t be a frightening experience for women OR men, I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of this statement.

    I’ll certainly check out your post, thanks for the link!

  6. @bzzfft

    Well, just because *I’ll* be happy to finally show my age, doesn’t mean I think *everyone* is happy to. 😛 Although, what about my last paragraph sounds fictional? True, it might be a bit more “Hallmark-y” than I originally intended, but I assure you that it’s really how aging is for me.

  7. @EK

    Maybe it’s because I wrote it (and thus know what I was thinking at the time), but I’m confused as to how this statement is “ego protection”. I do have a bit of an ego…as do most people…but it’s hardly significant enough to warrant protection, lol.

    I listed things that are “bad” about male aging, then things that are “bad” about female aging. I didn’t include ALL “bad” things, because this was a post about how I think aging is a positive experience. Listing men first was just a 50/50 chance…I could have as easily said ‘Men too, suffer some ill effects’. You’re reading a little too much into it, dear Knight!

    And yes, men can be fertile til about their 60s, whereas the oldest mother I knew was pregnant at 49. Either way, people should be cautious when having/begetting children at older ages.

    I also didn’t mean that “The Wall” had LITERALLY meant one only had a few years left. 🙂 Like I said, if you have proper diet and exercise…don’t smoke/do drugs…or drink excessively, you’ll probably remain looking younger longer! You lose points with me on the implants though…I personally don’t approve of society telling women they *need* to have large breasts to be attractive.

  8. My thirties have been better, by far, than my twenties were. Having money helps…didn’t have that in my twenties. Plus I spent a few years of my twenties having babies, so I actually looked a great deal better at thirty than I did several of the years prior. And I don’t have crows feet. Just started using nerium, though, to try to keep father time at bay (hope it works!). I’ve never gained weight with age, never had cellulite in my life.

  9. For all the hubbaloo, people really are aging a lot more gracefully now than at any other time in existence. Kate Beckinsale is 40, and looks amazing. That’s 10 years over thirty. People who take care of themselves look good for a very long while…those who don’t, probably didn’t look good in their twenties either. Some people peak in highschool.

  10. @Liz

    I agree that being health conscious helps in remaining “youthful” longer. I’ve recently seen women that I went to high school with (who I know from Facebook to be smokers/drinkers/party-girls) and they look so much older than I do! True, some could be unlucky genetics, but excessive drinking and smoking in general probably doesn’t help matters.

    And yes, as one works and builds a figure in social or business circles, one’s financial situation tends to improve greatly. I remember making $10,000 a year at age 17 and needing to budget absolutely *everything* to afford my car insurance, food, and still put away for college the following year. At 29 now, I have far more business contacts and a much better paycheck.

    Oh, and I won’t worry about crow’s feet…they only live in the corners of your eyes, and usually mean that you smile a lot. 🙂

  11. Physical attractiveness is what the wall is about. After which to snag a husband is nearly impossible. Which likewise corresponds with a loss of woman’s fertility in biological terms.

  12. Well, it’s only impossible if the partners are looking to have children. I’ve known couples who fell in love and got married in their 60s and 70s. Ever been to a senior citizen wedding? It’s pretty interesting and lovely in a non-conventional way.

  13. This is why, in a previous comment, I was such a turd about sunscreen. Prevention, prevention, prevention! I don’t mind getting old but I sure mind LOOKING old.

    I have been a grumpy old fart wise old sage in my own head for a long time. 🙂

  14. Lol, fair enough. Then again, wearing sunscreen is not just about looks…it’s about skin safety and cancer prevention! I’d rather live long and look old than die young and look youthful. 😉

  15. You are correct, it is about health, but some estimates say that 60% of visible aging on the skin (wrinkles, poor texture, spots) is due to sun damage.

    Of course this doesn’t fix all the beach vacations where I fried to a crispy crimson red as a child. This is when “tanning oil” was considered suitable protection for a child. 😦

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