I’m turning 45 this year.
That means I have been on this planet for 45 years (or almost 46 if you count the initial 9 months).
I will be honest – I don’t feel 45.
I don’t feel any age, really. If I had to pick an age, I would say it would be one that is much younger than the one I actually am, although I’m not exactly sure which age that would be.
I just feel like, with every year that goes by, more and more layers of “applied persona” – various masks and camo outfits and disguises I felt the need to adopt during different earlier stages of my life – peel back to reveal the essence of who I really am.
Like emerging from a particularly transformative shower, turning 45 feels like a reward for all the intense time and scrubbing it took to get me this clean.
So imagine my reaction to a recent short post by Susanna Schrobsdorff (editor of Real Simple and 51 year-old mom to two) where she shared:
I’ve already seen “Sexy at 70” headlines. Will everyone be expected to go to their graves looking hot?
Oh goodness. I certainly hope not!
I was actually quite looking forward to the days when, like my 70-ish parents, I could pause with genuine shock after reading an editorial and say, “Women are getting what done to which part of their anatomy? But WHY?!”
Why would women (and increasing numbers of men) go into debt to get various portions of their physical being frozen, snipped, clipped, trimmed, suctioned away or otherwise re-routed…especially when, as Schrobsdorff states:
It’s all so exhausting.
Yes it is. It is also expensive, dangerous and painful.
Schrobsdorff dubs it “endless agelessness,” and it occurs more and more frequently right during the key years when we hit “middle age” and our bodies start to surprise us all over again.
Right around this time (and only if we permit the process to unfold as it is designed to do) our bodies begin all on their own to morph and change and make decisions about what fits and what doesn’t and how much influence gravity actually has – and we aren’t consulted about any of it.
Over the last few years my own body has been on this exact journey, and I have to say, especially given my prior 20-year battle with an eating disorder, it has at times felt like a very delicate balancing act to keep both my head and my hips screwed on straight.
But I am managing, and rather well if I do say so myself.
In fact, there are times I am even able to enjoy my body’s sudden changes, to luxuriate in having earned the confidence to have hips and to swing them and to buy clothes they can curve into just like nature (and middle age) intended.
I also like that my boyfriend likes all the parts of me that the plastic surgeons and endlessly ageless celebrities and their stylists seem perennially at odds with. That feels really good – really real, and really good.
All this to say, I’m probably not going to go to my grave looking “hot.”
My actual plan is to go looking as peaceful and graceful as I can, and to go only after experiencing every facet of life lived at every different age I get to live.
I want to know what really happens – to my mind, to my body, to me – as I get older and older, one year at a time.
I want to feel the onset of (I hope) wisdom and perspective….the deepening appreciation for beauty in all its multi-faceted ages and forms….the gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned and the triumphs I’ve achieved….the knowledge that, even if I had an arsenal full of “take-backs” and “do-overs,” I wouldn’t use them, because I’ve needed every ouch and oops and aha moment to get to the gorgeous, timeless place where I am now.
In short, I don’t want to be ageless on the outside.
But I would love to feel ageless on the inside, to connect to a state of self-awareness and self-care that transcends ephemeral things like wrinkles and receding hairlines and sees only the beauty of the love we each (and all) carry within.
Today’s Takeaway: I suppose there is nothing wrong with plastic surgery, in the same way that there is nothing wrong with coloring one’s hair (which I also plan to do until the day I die – so many colors, so little time!). But under what conditions would you consider plastic surgery? Do you ever worry about what you will look like when you are 50 or 70 or 100? Do you ever think about making decisions to ease those worries through plastic surgery?