Refusing To Obsess About Aging

Obsessing about aging has become a national pastime and not just for those who are middle aged. Twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings are just as obsessed as fifty-somethings. And all this hype can be traced back to marketing. The “Does she…or doesn’t she?” hair campaign in the sixties was written by Shirley Polykoff and targeted women suggesting that grey hair made them appear older. According to Wikipedia The successful advertising campaign used the catchphrase, “Does she…or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” Within six years of Miss Clairol’s launch, 70% of women were coloring their hair. And here we are more than forty years later still grappling with grey hair; and there they are, all the hair dye manufacturers, taking it all to the bank.

If you dig a bit more into the life and career of Shirley Polykoff, you will also find that she refused raises because she didn’t want to appear to be making more money than her lawyer husband while he was alive. Hmmm. But she certainly understood the minds of women because she also wrote: “Is It True Blondes Have More Fun?” and, “If I’ve Only One Life to Live, Let Me Live It as a Blonde.” Oh yes. Shirley was a blond.

Personally my stand is that most dyes are toxic to the environment and those that claim not to be still have a pretty messy manufacturing process so I am out. Plus once you start that battle, you are at war every couple of weeks. And for what? Your vanity.

Don’t stop at hair dye. Have you noticed how young the models and actors are in anti-wrinkle-cream advertising? Same thing. These women don’t even know what a wrinkle looks like. They are the new target market because everyone is going to get wrinkles, but these lasses will use the creams for fifteen or twenty years before they finally realize it. No cream is going to stop wrinkles, but it will make you feel like you are putting in an effort. I am not saying that I don’t use cream, because I do. I just don’t pay a fortune for it and don’t expect it to perform a miracle. I just use it to hydrate. But if you choose to fall for all the marketing hype, then that is on you.

All this obsessing about aging has more to do with how we feel about ourselves and how we think others see us. Women are bad for this. Women seem to have lower self esteems then men. We have a long history of being criticized and being made to feel that we are not good enough. Women want to look good for men but also for other women. Women have become the worst critics. They are the ones more likely to notice greying hair and midriff expansion in other women. They are the ones who are still insecure and therefore feel the need to improve their own self worth by making catty comments about others. That is why fashion and marketing is often targeted towards women. It focuses on their insecurities. Am I always confident? Certainly not, but I don’t live my life based on the validation of others. One of the characteristics that makes me a good bitch.  

Aging is not a battle. It is a journey. If you choose to spend your life obsessing and battling aging, you are going to lose in the end; and the journey will be much more difficult and much less enjoyable. Aging happens. Ageism also happens. The young will never understand the old because they do not share their experience. Someday it will bite them in the ass and they will get it. We didn’t understand the old when we were young either. Old people made us uncomfortable. Ancient People, those in older stages than we are now, still do.

Yet I have a problem when ageism is slotted into the same category as racism because, I am sorry, it just does not compare. Yes it is harder to change jobs when you are older and it is isn’t pleasant when people think your ideas and skills are no longer valid, but don’t compare that to being black or indigenous. Don’t compare light remarks about being too old or being too young to years of systemic racism. At some point, everyone is young and at some point everyone will be old. 

I know women who have been battling aging for over twenty years, yet they are still getting older; and they appear to be pretty stressed about it. Stress in my books is a lot worse. It can kill you faster than growing old. Getting old is going to happen. It is out of our control. What we can control is our attitude and approach to aging. We can stay healthy, both physically and mentally. It doesn’t have to be a battle. It is more a matter of eating healthy and not spending the day on a chair in front of a TV or computer screen. It is more a matter of choosing to live not just exist. For me, it is also choosing not to obsess about aging, because that is way too much work and work like that is much too stressful. 

Maybe I feel this way because I have no interest or need to feel attractive to men or other women for that matter. All I want to do is be happy with myself. Yes I still look in the mirror. I don’t see the 20 year old very insecure me. I see a 63 year old who is content with who she has become. And believe me, it has been an interesting and sometimes exhausting, not to mention occasionally challenging metamorphosis. I have watched my face flatten, my nose widen (and it was already wide enough) and some distinctive facial characteristics be replaced by sags and wrinkles. I have seen the once skinny bitch (my father-in-law’s phrase) get thick through the middle and develop a slight muffin top. I felt my knees grow larger and lumpy and rebel against tight jeans. My feet haven’t worn heels in over twenty years. Yet I keep going and adapting. Currently I am living in the moment and just loving my new baggy jeans and comfy sandals. 

Thank you for reading.

Photo:  Jenn Stone

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25 thoughts on “Refusing To Obsess About Aging

  1. Did I tell you lately what a fine bitch you are? No? Well, I am telling you now. Obviously I agree with your analysis again. Not going to die my hair and I really don’t see the point of being a 64 year old looking like a 64 year old that is trying to look younger. What for exactly? Like you, I use cream, but only because I have very dry skin and I would suffer if I didn’t use any cream on my face. I need to thank you for making the distinction between ageism and racism. I never really thought about this before, and you are right. There is a big difference. As to the young not appreciating the old because they don’t share their experience, I think it’s more than that. I think it’s because they don’t NEED their experience. There used to be times and cultures that adored and respected the old because their society relied on their ability to pass knowledge to the next generations. They were cherished because they were the library and the movie theatre, the local news and the historians. They mapped the past and the future for the younger people who followed in their footsteps. Today, we have the internet and no one needs wise elders who can’t keep up with the times. That’s why god invented bitches.

    When are you going to make me an honorary bitch?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Right now! I crown you and honorary bitch. After all need backup. I do get tired of people going on and on about aging as if they are the only people it is happening too. I have very little empathy for those who wallow. And I have to agree with your statement about the internet. My grandkids are not interested in anything I do or say. They prefer their tablets. Their loss. I could teach them how to make a damn good coconut cream pie. Thanks for your comments and for getting me as usual.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I accept the honor humbly. Back to aging, I always looked many years younger than I was (to the point that it was annoying) then I looked my age and it was a bit jarring every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, but this is me and this is how old I am. I am more concerned about being healthy than looking young.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There is an incredible double standard for women. Many men who turn gray are said to look distinguished, but the message is not the same for women. I think how a person carries themself also determines how they are perceived. Self-confidence is a great trait to have as long as it doesn’t become egotistical.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I ditched the creams and lotions years ago and use Shae butter on my face, and coconut oil in my hair as an anti-frizz agent.

    But I do still colour my hair. I like it better on me… 🙄

    But what a great article. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shirley Polykoff was quite the copywriter! And strange that didn’t want to make mroe than her husband. Aging does not bother me at all (I’m the same age as you), but I think it is harder for women thanks to Shirley Polykoff…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The optics for a woman to work and make more than her husband we’re not acceptable back then. Shirley received some very good raises and promotions after her husband died and went on to open her own agency. Boy did she understand women’s insecurities.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Superb post with some great observations there. I do look after my skin (and have since I was 14) and think it has made a difference but I won’t spend a fortune on it either. Here, hydration isn’t so important as protection from the truly awful weather we have most of the time – protection is especially important in my case as I’ve been a hillwalker all my life and you really do get bad weather battering you on very many hillwalks here. People say the sun is your skin’s enemy – here it’s the cold winds.

    And you’re spot on that women think about looking good for other women and not just for men. When you think about it, men are fairly complacent about women’s looks compared to women who really are super-critical! I know I do it myself – I try not to be spiteful and don’t let on what I’m thinking but, every woman who passes by gets a look up and down to see if I think she’s making the best of herself – it’s not deliberate, just female nature I think.

    I’m not terribly vain but I am disappointed now I’m (also) 63 and have seen how jowly and saggy my face has become – the wrinkles aren’t bad at all but nothing seems to prevent the sagging. Maybe I need to do more facial exercises – but it’s probably too late now.

    The worst thing I’ve found about ageing though, and the thing which has taught me to absolutely HATE my birthdays/New Year or anything else which illustrates the passing of time to me, is the amount of chronic ill-health which piles up. And I am someone who has always looked after herself pretty well food and exercise-wise. That is pretty annoying. My friend (male and a couple of years older) has just started to accumulate chronic illnesses too and now he understands!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I agree that cream is necessary especially during certain weather conditions. In addition to the sun, we have harsh winters which are very hard on the skin. Hard on my face as well as feet so I am always aware of what the conditions are and creaming up to survive them.

      I believe all women notice changes in other women. It is how we react to them that is important.

      Haven’t had to deal with any chronic issues. Had my fair share of other issues and surgeries when I was younger but these days I am very lucky and very healthy. I think I would enjoy walking your hills. I love to walk.

      Like

  6. I have a friend who is a hairdresser .She always wants to dye my hair..I should stop. Makes my hair brittle. And I also have wrinkles ..trying to use expensive face creams..doesn’t work. But with Melanoma I always sunblock creams. It helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I use sunblock and creams with SPF 50 for sun protection as well. My mom dyed her hair for years. When she finally stopped her grey hair was so healthy looking where before it looked like straw.

      Like

    1. So very true. I wonder why so many people don’t clue in. Thank you for commenting. In my world I am an oddity,or at least I am to others. To me, I am just me. The person who is not a follower.

      Like

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