One For The Ages

I’ll be 40 years old in a month and I got my first birthday present: an age spot on my arm.

According to this guy, it will be hard to remove.  Thankfully it isn’t large or pronounced, nor is it obvious.  But I know it is there.

For the past eight birthdays, my body has given me a new “You Are Aging!” birthday present.  One year, the skin next to my eyes wasn’t a smooth.  Another year, my backside seemed to have dropped 2 inches (guess I was paying too much attention to my not-flat abs).  Last year, the skin on my hands and arms was missing some elasticity.

I have a friend who spends an incredible amount of money on anti-aging programs.  He has the money to do so – adult children, no spouse.  He had a facelift (and can I tell you it turned out great! He looks like a regular person, just fewer wrinkles) and he gets hormone shots.  I complained in front of him about aging and he said skin is the one area no one has been able to truly turn the tide on.  Which is sad because it is the part every one sees.  Who cares of my heart is the age of a 30 year old if my face looks 50.

My parents gave me the most important anti-aging tool: good genes.  Both my father and mother look extremely young for their age – my dad still has all of his hair at 71 years.  But it is what I have done with those genes that makes the difference.  I have never been much of a sun worshiper since I burn and once I turned 30 I got very serious about my skin.  But, again, the tide can’t be turned once it comes in.  Lines don’t actually fade.  Skin can’t get more taught once it loses its spring.  Brown spots stay brown.

Can you tell this bothers me?

I could go into my psychology about beauty, my personal looks, my mother, etc.  I don’t know that it would help though.  I could blame it on “society” and the pressure to look young.   I do, actually, look young…for 40.  Isn’t that the game?

Here’s my real problem: I focus on what could have been but wasn’t.  My lifestyle has changed but my mind-set hasn’t.  I’ve been married for 8 years but I still want to be attractive – to men.  I am no longer someone in any kind of spotlight but I continue to worry about being presentable.  I don’t have to compete for anything using my looks, but I still want to be envied for them.  If I give up these tendencies, though, will I let it all go to Hell and be just another mom in a pair of sweatpants at the park?  Perish the thought!

I’ll never be one of those moms that looks amazing in a bikini – not my body type.  But I’d like to be pretty for the rest of my life.  I’d like to strive for turning heads when I walk into a room, like my mother does.  You are welcome to judge me as shallow and self-focused.  That won’t be anything new and is unlikely to change.  What I would like to change is worrying about every new case of aging evidence without giving up completely.  How have you dealt with growing older, or other transitions that are indisputable? Or how have you tried to fight it?

UPDATE: I’ve had lots of views (awesome!) but almost no comments.  Really want to know how you are dealing with aging.  Really!

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14 responses to “One For The Ages

  1. OMG I’m wearing sweatpants right now. You have shamed me.

  2. amen! i am also shallow and refuse to be externally (nevermind internally) undone by my duties as mommy, wife, writer…

    feel free to check me out and comment at:
    http://chroniclesofmomnia.blogspot.com
    http://imnotafashionistabutiplayoneontv.blogspot.com

  3. This isn’t an easy one. Yeah, everyone may have an answer, but as you describe very well, there really aren’t any answers. Some “solutions” can delay the process a bit, but one way or another, aging is inevitable. People can also tell you not to be so shallow, but sorry, a mindset that took 40 years to develop isn’t going to just change overnight. Nope, this is one you’re probably going to have to live with. If it’s any consolation, I’m pretty sure you’re not the only one facing this issue 🙂

    My recommendation would be to do your best to accept what is, including your desire to look young. If that means taking steps to slow the process of aging, then by all means do so. But also realize that it won’t work forever, and be thankful you have a family and friends that love you no matter how you look.

    Peace.

  4. Oh, one other thing. I found that meditation really made a huge difference for me in terms of looking young. After a few years of meditation, I felt like I had aged -10 years. Unfortunately, it won’t cure age spots, though.

  5. My body’s present for my 40th was an extra 10 pounds! On one hand, it was a good wakeup that I wasn’t living the life I wanted or believed in (use-it-or-lose-it!) and I finally made some changes. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and more heart-healthy, and I lost those 10 pounds. They keep trying to come back, though, which means getting rid of the next 40 is all the more challenging!

    I don’t think your reaction to aging is particularly shallow, and it’s certainly not uncommon. While not especially baby-faced, I also have been blessed with young-looking genes. In the past few years, however, I’ve gone from nearly-zero makeup to a daily routine. I don’t think I’m more vain than I was in my 20s; in fact, I feel more confident now. I take pride in my appearance, and the fact is, looking good in my 40s takes a bit more effort.

    These days I dress up more than I need to for my job, and I ditched my shapeless t-shirts and sweats at home. It matters to me that my husband sees me at my best more than at my worst. It’s not vanity that drives this, I see it more as a way that I honor our relationship. Make no mistake: my marriage has never been about appearances, and it never will be! It’s a circular thing that I show I value him by giving him my best self as much as possible. He sure gets my worst, why not my best (not just mediocre), too?

    Not having been a head-turner in my 20s, my perspective is probably somewhat different from yours. 🙂 But I can still show I’m comfortable in my skin by taking time to look & dress well, and that can be sexy.

    Especially when I accentuate my rack. 😉

    • Girl, you cracked me up at the end! I’ve got big’uns, too, and while I usually curse them because I can’t fit into lots of clothing my size, I like how they give me a nice waist. But my boob saga will be another post.

      I get what you are saying about looking nice for your husband. I think that is fair. I don’t necessarily put on make up for my husband and I know he doesn’t care either way but when we go out on a date, I still make an effort. I think that is the point. Like showering, buying updated clothing, cleaning the house – if I make an effort, then he appreciates that.

      I, too, am wearing make up more now that I am hitting 40. I try to keep it light but those dark circles seriously need cover up. And, hate to admit it, I look better with it on. At least we have a lot of choices in that area, right?

  6. I’m getting real close to 40 as well and when I look at old photos even from 2-3 years ago, I see how much I’ve changed.
    I think sleeping right and eating right is the key to not accelerating the aging process. I also read that practicing a yoga routine called the Five Tibetans actually works miracles in keeping us looking youthful.
    I’m glad you wrote about this because it reminds me to start doing something if I want to age gracefully.

  7. Wow.

    I never turned heads… EVER. So this is a whole foreign concept to me.

    I find that as I get older, I’m happier and happier on the inside, and I find that it matters less and less what I look like on the outside. The difference is that I recognize that my outside is representative of my inside… so while I am overweight, and have been my entire life… I still want to look good.

    I have noticed little things, too. Everything has started to sag. It SUCKS!! However, I am working hard to improve my posture. I had great posture when I was a teen because my mother always harped on me… but I let it lax in college and after… now I’m working on it again.

    Honestly, Linda, I wish you could see you from the perspective of someone else. It’s amazing how hard we are on ourselves… but seriously… you’ve got a LOT less to worry about than most!! You ARE striking and beautiful, and I seriously doubt there’s anything you could do to change that.

  8. I think I’ve given up. I have white, white skin, and when I got my first aging spots I spent a fortune on bleaching creams.

    Now my dermatologist just shrugs and reminds me that I’m out of the danger zone, having been slathering on the sunscreen since the first one showed up.

    He’s a very reassuring kind of guy.

  9. When you see all the celebs talk about how wonderful they think 40 and aging is… makes me want to vomit …. I would think that too if I had the budget for plastic surgery, botox, personal trainers, etc! I’m sure that your post echos what many many women feel as they age…..

  10. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

  11. SassyPackRat

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one! I really hate my saggy butt, droppy boobs and worse of all the joints of my once beautiful “hand model hands” look like elephant knees. But I am super grateful for my genes that keep my face free of any wrinkles at 43.
    By the way your mom and you are lovely and I love your blog!

  12. (Found you from TwitterMoms)…

    I turned 40 last November and had the WORST time with it. Not so much the number, but the changes in my body I’ve noticed just in the last 6 months.

    My face looks completely different to me than when I was 39 and my butt is also way different (droopier).

    I actually got Botox to make myself feel better but it didn’t work and just made my forehead feel heavy.

    So, I don’t know. I suppose I don’t have any useful advice. However, you do look younger than 40 to me, so there is that. 🙂