Susan's Blog

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

46 is the old 40

Age, alas, as all wol envenyme, hath me bereft my beaute and my pith.
–Chaucer, “Wyf of Bath” [this is how I remember it from freshman year of college. Didn’t bother to google it; in too much of a hurry to get this screed out.]

Aging is a scary thing. As I said the other day, I suddenly am the mother of a 19-year-old and an almost 17-year-old. And Baby Benji is going to be 11!!! Oh, Little B!!! Where did the time go? I was 35, I blinked, and now I’m 46. Fabulous at forty, right. That worked when I had just turned 40, and 40 was the new 30. But 46? 46 is the old 40.

I don’t know how to feel good about it. “Better than the alternative,” my mother would say. Aging is happening to me, but I don’t know how to handle it. I feel like I notice tiny things changing, and it does not fill me with pride for all the life I’ve lived. Instead, it feels like a loss and like something I want to cling to.

We all have such contempt for the women who go for all the nips, tucks, injections, etc. But I think it is a double-edged sword, or scalpel. People also have contempt for old women. “She’s so old!” someone will say when you see a kind of regular anchorwoman on the news, rather than a twenty-five-year-old recent communication major. Or when you see someone fat. “How can they look that way?” And there are fat-losing contests in just about every magazine, and on reality tv. Scores of newspaper stories about obesity, how fat we all are. Fat seems to be synonymous with Bad, and Old is synonymous with Ick. None of us like that fact, but why does it keep up? Even More Magazine, the glossy fashion magazine for women over 40, only speaks to women up to around 70. Ever see the magazines that boast, “Look good at any age!” And they only cover your twenties through your fifties or sixties. After that you are irrelevant, or too tired or ill to care? I doubt it!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple — purple eye shadow, that is. If it is in.

Where do you draw the line in terms of self-improvement, in terms of trying to stay young? If you are not afraid of surgery, then are you so much worse a person than the one who dyes her hair? How about people who straighten their teeth? What are the rules on being “natural?”

We are told we should love ourselves, but so often the first thing out of a woman’s mouth, when talking to a girlfriend, is an unhappy statement about her looks; at least this is what I find among my friends. Are we shallow because we talk about these things? My friends? Are you kidding?

I have a friend who wrote a funny and informative book about all the things women do in the pursuit of youth. She actually went about trying products, interviewing consumers and those in the cosmetics industry to find out what “worked,” and to get to the bottom of what is really going on with women of a certain age. She had a theory that depending on what your circle does, you will feel pressure to keep up with the Joans’es. If one in your group all of a sudden starts getting Botox and Restylane, then the rest of you won’t look as smooth-faced. And if all do it but you, you will stand out. No one will mind, of course, but you might notice it and mind.

I hate the way I sound here. Anyone else going through this? My sister injured her hip the other day and nearly called off our weekend together (this Saturday) in New York! Laura, my sprightly slightly older sis! Hip injury, I ask you! And I said, “Oh, we really have to talk.” The whole leading-up-to-menopause, the losses, the losses!! Except around the waistline! Suddenly it is tremendously difficult to budge a pound! And when I complain to Ned, he says, “You know how beautiful you thought you were when you were 43? Well, when you’re 53 you’re going to look at you now at 46 and say, “Oh, I wish I looked like that now!”

(Yes, Ned is a Prince. He is indeed. That’s all there is to it. But still, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.)

He tries so hard to get through but he can’t. Deaf ears. I am panicking about the changes, I’m embarrassed about my vanity, but there it is.

In the end, obviously the best thing is to be happy with who you are. It was a lot easier when I had no wrinkles. Hey, at least I’m still younger than the president!


Having recently lost two friends to cancer and watching another lose her leg to it ;I have come to the conclusion that I am really happy to be upright, on my own two feet and breathing easy. None of their kids commented upon how nice thin and young or lamanted about how fat and old their mothers looked on the day of their funerals. They grieved for the person they loved and who had loved them back. Just love the skin you’re in and don’t miss out on any opportunities that come your way because you don’t look ( what you think is)the part.
I ‘m happy in my skin, but gee I wish I could write like you do!

— added by Sue on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 3:53 am

sue, you are so right! that’s the point, isn’t it? to have perspective, to know what is important. i am terrified of these events, like those you mentioned. i’m sorry for your losses, and i’m so happy for you and your lovely perspective. i am just not there yet, and i am looking forward to being there.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6:36 am

Gosh, I know!

Sometimes I pass a mirror and I get startled: who the hell is that? In my mind I am eternally about 32 which I believe was my beauty peak. Unfortunately, the mirror doesn’t reflect that!

(Ned is a sweet one. He trys, doesn’t he?)


— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

Oh your post made me laugh! I'm conflicted. At 43, I can see my face going south, yet I have kids that are 6 and 3, & nearly had another this summer. My cousin is having her 1st baby at 45, and a dear friend is having her first at 43. My life is better than ever, but what is that blubber under my chin..and I'm a size 6! yuck!

But my 37 year old hubby called me pretty the other day when I said I wasn't and this week, anyway, that's enough.
mom blog

— added by ginabad on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 8:58 pm

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