Susan's Blog

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wear Pink Now

Yes to dance beneath the diamond sky
with one hand waving free…

I actually never really liked that I Shall Wear Purple poem, because, why the hell doesn’t she wear purple all along? I know, I know, pay the rent, set an example for the children. But then again, huh?? Is it a good example to show your children a person putting their own life on hold?

But I also truly understand, and that’s wear the heat of my response comes from. You feel like you shouldn’t. You should fade and blend. Into the woodwork, the wallpaper, the background.
I can’t do that.

And the other choice seems to be cut this off, inflate that, smooth out this, buff that. I can’t do that, either. It doesn’t actually work, and it could kill you.

Self-hatred runs deep. It is tough to shake. We know, in our heads, that we have this and that to offer the world, but sometimes, our spleens do the talking. I have worked long and hard on trying to be the best person I can, inside and out, and yet I still cannot budge the “I’m fat,” or “I’m getting old,” messages. I read the Body Impolitic all the time. That blog really makes me think, and shows me a world turned inside out, where being fat is not only tolerated, it is celebrated. Laurie and Debbie really write beautifully and convincingly about how insidious and pervasive are the messages we all get, about how we are just no good as we are unless we look twenty and thin. I know that both are out of the question for me. I see women at my gym who are definitely my age and at first glance they are smooth and thin. But look again and you see the overworked arms, all ropey to fight off dangling arm fat. Overcoiffed hair, dangerously straight and ready to break off; super-high and round bustlines that just don’t occur in nature. And you can still tell, somehow, that these women are my age, even with all the outward signs removed or plumped.

I saw a different role model at my gym the other day. A woman close to seventy, with her glossy white hair bobbed and parted on the side, like a former flapper. Her face definitely had lines and bumps (i.e., no surgery or botox) but her eyes were startling blue. I stopped her and told her she was gorgeous, and asked her when she had decided to go gray. She told me she did that when she was 63, and was just plain tired of trips to the salon every three weeks to touch up the roots.

I told her how Ned tells me to let mine go. She wondered if it was because he was afraid of the chemicals? I said, “no, he just wants me to be completely natural. The way I was when he met me.”

The thing is, I’m not the way I was when he met me. I could go natural, but I’m afraid of how faded I would look. But I was thinking that just as there were almost no role models for me when I was a young autism mom, trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing for my unique little boy, I ended up just becoming my own role model. I invented my own way of being an autism mom, and most of the time, that has worked for me.

So now, maybe I should work on becoming my own kind of older woman. One who is clearly not twenty or thin, but dances and wears pink sparkles. In the midst of chaotic family life, because life is for all of us to live and enjoy, to the max, right now.


True, all we really have is the moment we are in. Revel in it as the beautiful mid-life woman you are. I think everyone looks best when s/he is being who they really are at that time, colored hair or not. It’s in the way they hold themselves, how they engage with the world, how other-focused they are. And there are role models all around, but not in the nedia. On the street, in the store, in our extended families. How lovely that you complimented that woman in the gym. Maybe we can all do more of that, supporting each other as we grow into ourselves?
Em’s Mom

— added by Anonymous on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 8:23 am

I struggle as I look in the mirror too Susan. I’m not the girl I used to be. And no matter how many miles I run, my body shows the signs of carrying my babies and giving birth. The scars and saggage (is that word?) are permenant.

I hope to evolve into the gray-haired, blue-eyed lady at the gym. You’re right. That’s beauty.

Not to patronize, but I think you are beautiful. Your story is beautiful. You are one of my role models.

Thank you for that.

— added by Judith U. on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 9:31 am

…and pink and gray are a very striking combination! my mother has been one of those striking silver-haired ladies for years; i aspire to be like her one day. (today, however, i do have an appt for a cut and color! lol)

— added by Niksmom on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 10:16 am

Susan, we’re not older, just slightly middle-aged people.Any twenty or thirty something woman would do well to look as good as you!

— added by Anonymous on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 10:28 am

I agree with everyone who has commented; especially, Marchiomi! From now on, I will think of myself as “slightly middle-aged”. Good for you for celebrating the naturally, gracefully aging woman you saw at the gym! Thanks for paying that forward (I didn’t actually see the movie that phrase is based on)!
your friend and fellow hottie,

— added by Anonymous on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 10:57 am