Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crossing the Line

I will be 49 years old this year. My mother always told me it was awful to get older as a woman but I've just been having an awesome time, and it appears to be getting awesomer as the months go by. I notice I look my age when I'm feeling off kilter mentally, but usually I'm either preparing for/looking forward to/ or doing something exciting so that I beam with a sort of glow that softens my chicken-y skinned neck and makes me look early forties rather than late maybe - and most the time I don't even think about this kind of crap but I'm starting to notice that I look old in a lot of photos & it's kind of startled me. I come from a genetically blessed family - very little gray hair, strong lean bodies until death, and youthful looking faces. I have always thought I'd feel sexy forever but in the last year or so I've noticed that a line has been crossed - one that I have sort of read about but ignored, thinking it is way too far off for me, but it is right here. Now. I am middle aged. But at the same time feeling more rascally & mischevious each day. I feel I am without a map to navigate my middle years because I am in an small demographic: single, childfree, nomadic lifestyle, utterly non-domestic. I am not going to be the respectable middle aged woman whose a bit plump & wears Eileen Fishher tasteful clothing. I don't want to do the full on scraggly hippy thing, so I think I am going to have to create my own look. I may have to cut my hair short - not because it's more flattering, but because it might be more edgy. If I keep the RPGs I will have to construct a look around them, and that will involve creativity as these glasses are unforgiving on a sagging face. I feel safe about my body as I feel certain I will stay under 130 pounds and an ok shape as long as I keep up my moderately physical lifestyle. I tried blonde hair last year. People said it looked nice, but I was always uncomfortable with it. It was so boring & just didn't feel like "me." I just wanted something different & let a hairdresser talk me into something that was too conventional looking. I even went & spent $200 more dollars making it more blonde, and it depressed me even more. I didn't notice if men looked at me more -I think they don't really look at 50 year old women that much, no matter what color their hair is. I also don't want to fall into the trap I see women my age doing: trying to look 30 forever...staying super skinny, botox, college girl clothing. It will eventually look like just what is is: buying into the incredibly deep & sick programming this country supports by making women over 40 invisible through advertising & media. We are no longer sex object so we are to be ignored. My only option is to be myself. This has always worked in past, but every once in a while I think I need an updating. I get lots of comments about how I could make myself more "feminine" or more "pretty" or how if I got rid of these giant glasses I always wear that people could see my eyes. I admit my fashion & dress stems from my punk rock days in college, and the fact that I have never spent more than 3 minutes on grooming before I leave the house (sometimes I even see a crumb of last nights dinner on my face after I get to work). I have never felt so good or empowered as when I was in black army boots & old jeans & a black t-shirt. I have always had dyed hair - I don't like natural hair - it just seems to boring. I guess I'll continue to dress the way I always have & not have a glowing transformation into cronehood. I still absolutely adore black clunky soled boots, and have always felt embarrased in girl footwear. I don't own a thong, and my swimwear is guys trunks. Some of my fashion choices are based in feminism, but mostly I like that comfortable swagger of loose jeans & boots, and the relaxed feel of not wearing tight clothes or having to feel like I have to show off my figure, which isn't great anymore. If I continue to have a cool lifestyle, I can probably get away with the slacker appearance I have always had. It feels like a shallow thing to be contemplating in such depth, but actually it feels quite like it could be a great feminist act: refusing to follow convention. I hope I can resist the plastic surgery that is so obvious to me on some of my 60 year old friends. I will probably always dress like a college student, and my hair is just always going to be unstyled. I stopped dying it red & now have it a sort of reddish brown color that looks very natural, which I never thought I'd like, but do acutally. I owe it to other women my age to take risks in fashion. I owe it to myself to fight against the media machine that says a middle aged woman has to hide in billowy clothing and clunky jewelry. I have my fashion heroes: Annie Liebovitz, Gloria Stienem, Patty Smith. Annie actually looks like she's just rolled out of bed most of the time.

I remember when I was in a yoga class where an attractive man entered. For the first time I was looked over as if I wasn't there. He spent the class looking at the younger girls in tight clothes. I always wear a baggy t-shirt & sweatpants to yoga so I'm not helping myself if I want attention. I'll always have my writing, my art, my love of my life, my memories. Such great memories. But every once in a while that girly part of me screams for attention...she wants to parade around like she's 19. What's funny is I like who I am so much more now - when I was 19 and gorgeous, I didn't give a rat's ass about it!

1 comment:

Suz said...

"I am in an small demographic: single, childfree, nomadic lifestyle, utterly non-domestic."
We get to create our own map. In many ways we are very free; a gift.
Similar place despite very different backgrounds. You have hurt and worked so much harder than I have to get where you are psychologically. Keep writing. Do you read any particular types of books?