“Youth is the one thing worth having.” ~ Oscar Wilde
It’s not news that we live in a youth- and beauty-obsessed culture. Look around. Society values young, pretty people. If we aren’t young, we better at least look it (and we better be thin and hot). The market for Botox, fillers and other time-freezers show that. And no matter what age you are, you’d better be pretty in a culturally sanctioned way.
So what’s that got to do with me? Well, as my 40th birthday approaches, I’ve started thinking about youth, body image, and aging. I am actually happy to be reaching this milestone. I am actually more confident than I was in my 20s.
It’s hard for me to admit my age on this blog. I don’t want to be discounted by the younger blogging community, silly as that sounds. So it’s cathartic to share how old I am (39) and when I’ll hit the big four-oh (December).
I don’t mind getting older, but I struggle with the idea of looking my age. I’m happy with my body, but I think of ways to prevent wrinkles. The sunscreen isn’t because I fear skin cancer; the sunglasses aren’t because they match my shirt.
That’s the world we live in. A youth-obsessed place.
I used to have age limits on what’s acceptable. As a ten-year-old, I was sure that by 30 I’d be wearing frumpy suits. As a 25-year-old, I was prepared to give away my mini skirts within the decade.
But now, as I’ve gotten older, I’m embracing things that I “shouldn’t” be enjoying. I dressed more conservatively 15 years ago than I do now. Now I don’t worry as much and I have more fun. Today, I care less about what others think of my fashion choices, the things I do and the way I act—and that’s liberating.
I’m also making a point of bucking trends. This past spring I read an article about a silly study that shared the ages at which women should stop wearing certain things. Here’s an excerpt of the list:
- Bikini, 47
- Miniskirt, 35
- Boob Tube, 33
- Stilettos, 51
- Belly button piercing, 35
- Knee high boots, 47
- Trainers, 44
- Leather trousers, 34
- Leggings, 45
- Ugg boots, 45
- Swimsuit, 61
- Tight vest, 44
- See-through chiffon blouse, 40
- Long hair, 53
- Ponytail, 51
I’m on a new mission to wear all of those items, well past the “expiration date” given to them. With two exceptions: Uggs (which I think are repulsive, style-wise, on anyone regardless of age) and a belly button piercing (I don’t have one and I don’t want one; I will keep my nose ring indefinitely and keep getting tattoos and I think that counts).
So far, I’ve got to write a few outfit post of me in a miniskirt, boob tube (I think that’s the British word for a tight, strapless top), leather trousers (I will if I can find a vegan alternative), and a see-through chiffon blouse. I’m already not supposed to wear those things (But I will. Just wait!).
So it’s obvious I don’t follow others (or perhaps I like to question authority). As far as fighting aging in other ways, well, I do want to look and feel my best. I eat well and I exercise. I don’t dye my hair (at the moment), although I have. I personally don’t want to be gray and will dye it when that happens. I don’t want Botox or collagen injections. I want to age gracefully. I want to show people that beauty and aging can coexist. I want to be comfortable in my own skin. Confidence and joy are fantastic accessories.
How do you feel about aging? How do you “fight” or “embrace” it? Is there something you’ve learned by getting older? As Oscar Wilde said, “I’m not young enough to know everything.”
This a twofer: This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival, hosted by the National Organization of Women and it’s part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers monthly group post (which happens to be about Youth and Aging this time). I’m attempting to feed two birds with one hand (and trying to substitute a non-violent expression for the “kill two birds…” saying; it has yet to take off). While I wait for that to happen, check out their sites and see what others have to say.