Have you heard that Snow White smashed that “fairest of the fair” looking glass? She claimed that it was mocking her. The mirror insisted that it was simply, truthfully reflecting her appearance as she aged. Another New Year; another birthday! Birthdays aren’t as much fun as they used to be. Going to the doctor is getting to be a drag too. He keeps finding another thing wrong with my health. They don’t make a pill for some of those things.
Aging in America is brutal for women. I have become invisible to most men. Young men hold doors open for me with a look of pity in their eyes. First the beauty industry age shames us, and then it promises to come to our rescue if only we buy their lotions, and potions, and creams and cleansers and hair dyes and hair removal products. The right cosmetics will take years off our face. The ones that work the fastest cost the most money. When we really get desperate around 40, they start mentioning botox and serums and even plastic surgery.
According to cultural concepts, men look great with gray hair; women not so much. My brother-in-law Rollie informed my sister Julie that she could only go gray if they went bankrupt or he went blind. My own husband who is aging right along with me always says, “Men don’t have to look good. They only have to be clean.” Another double standard that women have to endure.
I must have been complaining a great deal about growing older or he noticed the extra large jars of wrinkle cream in our medicine cabinet because he gave me a book titled “How Did This Happen? Poems For The Not So Young Anymore!” It made me laugh and cry. I realized I was not the only woman bemoaning winkles and sagging skin. Of course worry and stress about aging makes my skin look worse. I recalled those platitudes like “You are only as old as you feel.” Unfortunately some days my aches and pains make me feel old.
My balance isn’t as good as it once was. Recently at my niece Gracie’s second birthday party, I forgot this and sat down on the floor with the others to watch her open her presents. In the middle of present unwrapping I started to worry about getting back up on my feet again. There was no graceful way I could do that, and I was too proud to ask for help. I waited until the ice cream and cake line formed in the kitchen and then made my move. I got up on my hands and knees and crawled over to the stair banister and pulled myself up from the floor.
My husband recently had a shock. A woman with a baby carrier held the door open for him at the mall. We decided to remember that “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” He already has a black t-shirt with white lettering that reads “ain’t dead yet.”
I decided to ignore most beauty product advertising and my own desperation about aging and focus more on other people. I also started doing the 5-3-1-1 meditation.