Another Birthday

In Aging, Health on February 4, 2009 at 9:11 am

I’ve discovered one thing about aging: you get used to it. When I noticed the first signs–wrinkles, sun damage spots, looser skin around the eye–I was concerned. But the changes were gradual and not that noticeable. Then I went through menopause. And all hell broke loose.

I used to be mistaken for someone ten years younger than I really am. No longer. Or maybe it’s that the ten years younger is still so much older than I used to be. I recently read a Nora Ephron book titled I Feel Bad About My Neck, and boy, could I relate. That’s the part of me that underwent significant change. I still recall the day–not fondly–when my grandson asked,”What happened to your neck?” I was floored. I knew the skin there was getting loose, but I didn’t know that it was obvious to others.

Now I would be glad to have that be the worst sign of my aging. But, no, now I’m developing jowls. All of us age differently, but I never in my wildest dreams imagined myself with jowls. And my skin has shifted down around my mouth and loosened under my chin. My sister, who is two years younger than I am, isn’t aging the same way I am. She has wrinkles. I have them, too, but not quite as many. But that could be because I’m fat and she isn’t: plump tissue fills out wrinkles. I have natural Botox!

And yet, even though the signs are escalating–age spots, hair on my chin, patchy hair elsewhere, loose skin around my armpits and on my chest (and we won’t even talk about what’s happening to the rest of my chest)–I’m becoming more resigned to them. Maybe it’s because they’re coming so rapidly now. I don’t have time to mourn one before another pops up. And after a while you just get sick of mourning. You give up, I guess. “It” is taking over your body and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Oh, I know there are some things you can do: liposuction, face and neck lifts, Botox. But I can’t afford anything like that and I’m not sure I’d have them done if I could. What I have discovered is make-up. For years–when I could get away with it–I never wore any make-up at all. But my skin started looking ashen and spotty, so one day I stopped at a cosmetic counter and asked how to put on foundation. The change was so remarkable, I bought some on the spot. And then I practiced, with that and eye make-up, and found that it did make a difference. When I dolled myself up for my daughter’s wedding, even I thought I looked ten years younger (okay, just younger).

I was looking at a gallery of photos on the other day of stars who have been around for awhile, what they used to look like and what they look like now. The ones that haunt me are the aging stars who wear too much makeup. I guess it’s not going to help forever. Many of the other older stars just looked like paler versions of their younger selves. As if they were fading away…which in essence is exactly what is happening.

We get softer in every way when we get older: our skin, our coloring, our dispositions. Oh, some people stay vibrant or cantankerous to the very end, but I know for myself, I’m much more relaxed about things than I used to be. There are some trade-offs to getting old. One of them is that you just don’t care as much as you used to about your looks (as well as many other things).You’re old and that’s it. C’est la vie.


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