At 70 years old if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use ‘fuck off’ more frequently
After the birth of my youngest son, well over 3,5 years ago, I was left with quite the physical wreckage. My belly looked like risen dough with carved out stripes. Hostile, extraterrestrial and not very inviting. I suffered from pelvic instability, muscle atrophy, chronic fatigue and insomnia. Pre and post baby. I had eight stitches, both inside and out and couldn’t poop properly until 5 months after the baby was born. Sex I didn’t have because I was scared shitless my uterus would wobble out at the very thought of excitement.
Luckily most of my problems dissolved over a period of 3 years and I began feeling like my old self again. Almost that is, because 2 months after I stopped breastfeeding I noticed that my hair was starting to fall out. I had prepared myself for this unfortunate but frequently occurring side effect, but the thing that really freaked me out was that what had fallen out in certain places, started growing back in other. And I mean profusely and visibly. I grew a moustache, very distinct side burns and one persistent witch hair on the right side of my chin. Now, I have a soft spot for Mr. Tom Selleck, but I sure as hell didn’t want to look like him.
So, besides waxing, plucking and using creams to get rid of my overgrowth, there wasn’t really much I could do about it at the time, and I attributed my ugliness to my fluctuating hormones and resigned in trusting nature to fix everything in due time. Meanwhile, my son was almost 3 years old and my hope of looking like my former bombshell self had faded away. Nature was set on taking its precious time and I really didn’t have any left.
I was getting old people and it was all happening too fast too soon. I mean, when did I get here anyway? Was there still time to undo what was done? Was I lost forever Lord? No, the Lord said but He didn’t answer me right away either. I got to stew in my own juice for a little while longer.
Somewhere between getting pregnant and today, time went into overdrive and its effects were all up in my face. Literally. My friends and family thought I was overreacting and told me to stop whining, but in the privacy of my poorly lit bathroom I knew I was right.
When I’d wake up in the morning I looked more tired and my fat was unequally dispersed across my face. My once succulent lips weren’t pouty anymore and it took me much longer to fill up my cheeks into the day. Naturally I mean. My hair was horrifyingly different. Opposed to being shiny, straight and full, it was washed out, oddly wavy and thinned out. My muscles were stiff oftentimes and I could actually hear my bones cracking so every now and then. The horror of ageing was taking me by surprise.
And I never had these problems with son one so I could only conclude that it must have had something to do with my age or my lack of discipline and self preservation. In my twenties I thrived on fast food and lack of sleep, so I figured it was most likely a combination of being in my late thirties and having unhealthy habits. When you’re young the body recovers in no time but those days were definitely over for me. My reserves were depleted and I was becoming painfully aware of my transient life. Something’s gotta give I thought.
So, I patched myself up and tried to fix any problem that popped up. I did everything I could to look sexy and beautiful. I bought myself a pair of high-waisted shape wear and cut out the butt part. My floppy belly had to go but my still young looking behind deserved to be noticed. I made sure my nails were done and my fabulous outfits looked effortlessly put together by (of course) my fabulously laidback self. I wanted people to think that I really did wake up like this.
I mean are we not in a real time competition with each other? To be the prettiest, youngest, strongest, smartest, fittest and fastest woman of all trades? Don’t you want to be the belle of the ball and have all envious eyes on you the moment you walk in the room?
I know I did. I love it when people say I look great. I am lifted off the ground and a halo forms above my head. Right then and there. Unique Monique. But then people started saying I look great…for my age. Ouch. A crushing disappointment took hold of me, thumped me in the stomach and there went my solid self-confidence basis.
Really? Was my level of self-love so low that one remark messed up my day just like that? Apparently so. But could you blame me? This obsessiveness with ageing gracefully is all around us and I was beginning to wonder if it was going to haunt me for the rest of my life? And what did ageing gracefully mean exactly? That I should look like Meryl Streep and not syringe my way through old age? Or did it mean that I should do everything in my power to delay the process? Staple back my wrinkles? Fill up my lips? And breasts? And pretty much everything else? Or maybe it meant not complaining about it and accept that life is over after 35?
I don’t know but we all talk about ageing gracefully like it is an act of mind mastering. It is not. There’s no such thing as ageing gracefully in this world. There’s no room for it. Honestly, how is a woman supposed to age gracefully when everything around her is roaring the exact opposite?
We are not allowed to age. Ageing equals dying or at least not being considered fuckable. It is perceived as the start of your end and nobody wants to think of the end. And I assume men don’t feel the same pressure as we do. Well perhaps those in the entertainment business but I’m pretty sure the men in my life don’t bend over backwards in pursuit of rejuvenation. We do that. Women are bombarded with images and messages that say we can have it all if we would just look the part. Well I didn’t want to look the part anymore. I was sick of it.
The whole idea of complying to aesthetic rules brings out the rebel in me and one day I simply refused to be picture perfect. The hell with shaved legs and bikini waxes was now my new decree. Out the door with plucked eyebrows and gel based manicures! I let my armpits fill themselves out and my toenails resemble Robinson Crusoe’s. It was very freeing to walk around with ashy legs and a fluffy moustache. I felt very connected to our earth and the sky above.
And then my sister told me that she was happy for my spiritual connection to the Whole, but I really didn’t have to turn into a shrub and have my limbs morph into foliage.
She had a point.
I hadn’t found a balance yet. One in which I was allowed to be pretty without me disregarding what I had been given by Nature. The bottom line: It’s about accepting yourself as beautiful in all your forms and phases. I don’t think there’s a lot we can do about what others dictate but you do have full control of its impact on you.
And yes, when we get older our bodies change and not everyone is able to handle these changes very well, but it is nevertheless a natural process. Fighting it will only make things worse. So, shake hands with it. Try a bit harder to look at more than just your exterior.
Maybe it’s because I am getting older that I now focus on my inner self, but I am confident that you don’t have to wait until your forties to pay attention to the development of your character.
Listen, I do whatever I want whenever I want and so should you. I like my face down free but that’s my choice. I feel better when I have a good hair day and when I’m wearing a great outfit, that’s true, but when things are expected of me I tend to revolt. And I’m not talking about paying the bills or taking care of my children. That’s how we keep order around here. Rules are kind of nice that way. I’m talking about the rules that decide whether you should grow hair on your legs, have a triple ass or wear shorts when you’re a size 16.
It’s about harmony. And health. And fun. Youth is indeed a pretty thing but age my friends, age is splendid. With it comes wisdom. So they say. I’m not sure if I belong to that enviable group of people but I do uphold a growing sense of self- acceptance. I feel less of a need to compare myself to others and look at myself first whenever things need to change. I love getting older. It is calm and less volatile.
By all means, take into account other people’s opinions. There’s nothing wrong with that, but please don’t lose yourself in the process. Let it be a healthy dance. How much of yourself are you willing to sacrifice anyway to be genuinely happy? It’s not only about feeling good but also about what is sensible.
Sending you a bucket full of wax all the way from here to wherever you are.
Note to men: Those who feel like a woman is mentally deficient when she has a full bush; we are grown women. We grow hair there. Some of us like it jungly. But if you prefer the look of a toddler then we are obviously not for you. Happy hunting.
Note from the Lord: Grow all the hair you want because if that makes you happy, I my child, am happy as well.