Another celebrity face being lifted? More crows’ feet being decrowed? More necks being tautened? When I was younger, I was always so bemused by how celebrities went to such great lengths to alter their looks, restore their youth, or change a feature. And it wasn’t just celebrities…I saw other older women change how they looked to hang on to something, but I was never really sure what. My friends and I would talk about how silly all this was. I swore to myself that I would never get any procedures done, that I would just age gracefully and not look like I just had “ridiculous looking surgery.”

“Why?” I wondered when a perfectly lovely celebrity had eye skin pulled so tight that it seemed as though the top of their head was being pulled up by a plunger. “Growing older is just part of life! That’s just what happens.”

One day years ago while listening to a segment on the radio, I heard a journalist describing reaching fifty and declaring that “the race was over,” as she was now done caring about attractiveness. That seemed crazy to me–I will always want to take good care of how I look and I will always look great!

Here I am now, 56 (wow- how could that be?!) What no one tells you (or at least no one told me) is that you never feel any different on the inside when you age. You are the same exact person. Yes, people might grow emotionally and intellectually, in other words–grow wiser. You may see life from different perspectives. But in general, you are just always who you were. You know yourself because you’ve been living with yourself for a while now.

Then one day you look in the mirror and you wonder how long the lower part of your cheek has sagged the way it does now. It’s really just a little different than your cheeks looked a few years ago, but boy, do you notice this. Yes, I have jowls and neck wrinkles, and “unsmooth” skin around various parts of my body.

So what do I go out and do? Sit quietly by? Hardly! I buy creams, lotions, and patches. I research online the best, most inexpensive ways to fix sagging skin. I peruse women’s magazines that boast the newest, fastest way to lose ten pounds from an over 50 gut. I hold my head in just the right position over Zoom. Why do I do all this?

Besides looking different from how I perceive myself in my mind, what I am most surprised about is that I didn’t think the changes in my appearance would bother me. I didn’t think I would care. I would always think of myself as the same beautiful person. Lately I’ve also started to think about this: I haven’t seen nothin’ yet; the changes will keep going on, and on, and on–and the fact that I’ve thought about this really troubles me. The privilege of growling old is something to be deeply cherished, and it’s a privilege that some don’t get.

My father died when I was only eight, and he was only forty-four. I still pine for him. I’ve always told people that each birthday is another gift, and it is. Each year is more of a chance to be with people you love, have experiences, and just plain live. Life is so very precious.

So why does the fact that heads don’t turn for me the way that they once did now bother me so much? Shouldn’t the changes happening to my body be worn as badges of honor? Why do the wrinkles around my eyes as I am smiling big seem to be what I focus on in a picture? After all, that picture was a good day; I was happy, healthy, and having a good time. I know in my brain and in my heart that the moments, the days of my life, is where the value lies. Yet I do spend time having some despair about the bodily changes that go along with the gift of growing older.

It’s a gut punch to lose something you were so used to having and felt good about- and took for granted. It’s a day to day journey that I’m currently on to come to an acceptance that this is who I am, and I am so much more than the package I’m in.

Don’t Season Me; I’m Not Telling You My Age was last modified: by

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