Themusingwell's Blog

November 16, 2009

On Aging

Filed under: Uncategorized — WeeBanshee @ 9:29 pm

I remember watching my mother, at the time probably in her mid-50’s, slathering Countess Marcella Borghese Crema di Notte (sp?) on her face.  The huge jar of sweetly scented cream always sat on my mother’s nightstand (right next to the pack of Virginia Slims).  I always remember my mother having wrinkles on her face.  She had a baby when she was 45 years old – enough to cause wrinkles in anyone.  Her beautiful hair stayed flaxen blonde up until the day she died. My father, on the other hand, had a head of snow white hair by the time he was 40. 

Guess whose hair I inherited?

At age 48, my hair is almost completely silver. I know it sounds weird but I just noticed this the other day.  I lay on my bed Saturday afternoon holding a mirror, mesmerized by the shimmering strands of silver.  I have to say it here, they were beautiful.  I scrunched my hair up on top of my head and played with my bangs making sure the silvery bits hit my face.  Wow.  Still beautiful…the silver against the few remaining strands of dark blonde really brought out the blue in my eyes.  When did this happen?  I knew I had bits of gray and my temples were almost completely white but the rest of it?  Shit happens when you don’t pay attention…

Waiting for me on the bathroom sink was a box of Miss Clairol #106 (some shade of ash blonde).  I knew what would happen if I let my hair “go.”  I would fall in stature from barely cool wife and mother in her 40’s to a haggard and wizened crone of indeterminate age, clearly falling apart.  I would henceforth be known as “woman who has let herself go.”

I see pictures of women in magazines, my age and older, who look ten years younger than I do.  Oh, I know they’re in a magazine so they are probably air-brushed to the hilt but still…they look beyond fabulous.  I look beyond haggard most days.  Maybe I should wear makeup but it’s a bother.  I have what the wrinkle cream ads term “deep wrinkles.”  I have freckles and spots.  And that’s just my face.  Don’t get me started on the rest of my worn and decrepit body.

But, just so you get the full picture, my body is not in great shape either.  I am not a disciple of exercise like I’m told I should be.  My husband laughs every time I lecture the kids on being fit.  “Do as I say not as I do,” he chuckles.  I’m sorry – looked in the mirror lately, Napoleon?  I see no six pack, sweetie.  So, I’m all jiggly on the bottom, wrinkly on the top, and capped with white like a human Kilimanjaro.  I think I’m beyond what air-brushing could do.

I stare at the box of hair dye.  Why don’t I have the courage to “age gracefully”? Or, is there still any such thing?  In today’s youth obsessed world, aging has become unacceptable.  We should all look like we did when we were 30 even though we’re pushing 60.  I’m only 48 but 50 is the new 30 so I’m what, 28? Ha!  Now, that’s funny.

According to the Mad Men of the 21st century, I should have no wrinkles, no grey hair, a perpetual twinkle in my eye and bounce in my step, my breasts should be round and perky (even after breast-feeding two children), my legs should be always hairless, let’s see…what else…oh and I should always, always be in the mood for sex and I should have an ass you could bounce a quarter off of.  I’m sure I missed a requirement in there somewhere…as I said before, if we choose to ignore the advertisements and let nature take its course (while still maintaining our overall health and fitness),we’ve obviously given up and let ourselves go.

Really? 

In today’s world, to age gracefully is to aggressively deny the march of time with a battalion of age-defying products containing ingredients that no one but a chemist could pronounce.  Just as a sampling, I found the following products (some listing their miracle ingredients) in a home decorating magazine that I picked up:  Lancome Absolue Precious Cells claims to be an “advanced regenerating and reconstructing cream.”  Allegedly through the use of stem cells (?), this cream can recover the visible signs of younger skin in 7 days (for those of us in a hurry).  Elizabeth Arden, a few pages later, gets right to the point:  “Prepare yourself for the beauty battlefield.”  Wow.  We’ve gone to war.  In the November 2009 issue of Health magazine, I found Andie MacDowell declaring for L’Oreal, “Fighting deep eye wrinkles is a 24-hour job.”  On page 92, I found an article entitled, “The Ultimate Stay-Young Secrets.”  And, on p.142, I found four products that are supposed to give me great skin while I sleep.  One is called Lumene ExCELLent Future Deep Repairing Cream. Say what?  The names don’t make sense, the ingredients are chemical soup and their effectiveness and benefit debatable.  Why?

Is it wise to throw all of this money and all of these chemicals at Mother Nature?

The war, should you choose to wage it, is e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e.  Even old standby Olay products are at least $25-$35 for a tiny bottle of magical potion. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am susceptible.  I bought some “night cream” the other day in a moment of premenstrual (or was it perimenopausal?) weakness.  I wanted to buy something natural so I went for Burt’s Bees “Naturally Ageless with Pomegranate & White Birch Bark Skin Firming Night Cream.”  For the privilege of smearing pomegranate extract and birch bark juice all over my face at night (to its credit, it makes my skin feel lovely if a little greasy), I paid $32Cdn for a 2 oz jar.  Ouch.

Women today, especially those in their 40’s and 50’s are being told day in and day out that they should be capable of looking 20 years younger than they are and if they don’t, they’re doing something horribly wrong.   Wouldn’t a healthy diet and good fitness be enough?  No, huge companies like Lancome and L’Oreal and Clarins are making BILLIONS of dollars on the insecurities of otherwise rational and intelligent women. 

So here I sit, freshly Ash Blonde.  Do I feel better?  No, I feel horrible and hypocritical but I have to admit that Napoleon’s opinion matters.  He literally shuddered when I told him I wanted to let my hair go natural.  If he is shallow then I am weak-willed.  I’m just not ready to be the crone.  Maybe in 6-8 weeks when the colour wears off…

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