Looking Older With Attitude

By Sunny Glessner

 

old-man-attitudeIt’s almost a shock each morning to see that older woman’s face peering back from my bathroom mirror.  Not that she’s that old, or looks as old as she is, mind you. The reason for the shock is that I feel younger inside than the reflection I see. I still think of myself as the 50-year-old who climbed Mt. Fuji and walked miles to work daily with a heavily loaded backpack.  What happened to her?

Twenty years later, I still exercise and walk regularly. I can touch my palms to the floor and nose to my knee—maybe that’s where those leg wrinkles come from. Biking and swimming keep my limbs working and improve my balance. I feel downright frisky as I dance to old time rock n’ roll.  I take no meds, and only see my doctor for routine checkups. So that face feels like a betrayal after practicing good habits and eating healthily for decades. I don’t want to grow up, let alone grow older.

Do men look into the mirror and think they look older than they feel?  Obviously some do, based on the popularity of Rogaine and hair dye for men.  Then there are men like Willie Nelson, who seems to wear his wrinkles proudly.  I asked some male friends whether they think about looking older than they feel.  My unscientific sample ended with split results—4 “yes”, 5 “no”, and 1 “it depends”.

I have no doubt about my women friends, who are as dismayed as I am by this “normal” process of aging. Many of my friends bemoan the legs covered with crepe paper skin, arms like albino bat wings and the addition of another chin. None of us are obsessed with our looks, although I do co-ordinate my purple flip-flops with my varicose veins.     

Many of us seem as angry about the fading of our looks as any deterioration in our health. Having never been a beauty, I don’t have to deal with the blow like someone who’s always been pretty and admired.  That must be quite difficult, especially for those whose beauty provided their living.  I do know, however, what it’s like to see the loss of my best feature—my hair.  It was thick, shiny and silky.  Now it’s thin and wimpy.  Coloring my hair is my main act of defiance against looking older, but I hope I won’t feel it necessary to dye it until I’m dead. 

Weight loss is supposed to make one look better, but tell that to the new wrinkles in my face. I know women who’ve put weight back on because they couldn’t stand how their face looked after the weight loss. I didn’t intentionally put weight back on, but when it happened, the face wrinkles stayed. So now I have the worst of two worlds. Researchers have discovered that coffee berries prevent new wrinkles, but better yet is a drug called Retin A that can help most people reverse skin wrinkles. Can we buy it by the gallon?

A friend lamented the sagging skin on her arms after losing weight. She decided it was worth the UVA—or is it B—exposure to get some color as camouflage, which made me wonder about the sun-damaged skin on my arms. Maybe color would make it less noticeable.  Since the cause of the damage was too much sun already, I chose a tinted moisturizer.  It did mask the white patches, but with an awful, orange cast, so scratch that idea. 

Some women resort to surgery, such as a face lift, caps on their teeth, or Botox injections, but I won’t go that far. However, I do occasionally pull back the skin on the side of my face just to enjoy looking 15 years younger for a few moments. 

Looks are always relative, so hanging around with women a decade or two older helps the ego, but stay away from those toned 30- and 40-year olds.  If I can’t avoid them, I console myself with the thought that they probably won’t look as good as me when they’re my age. Not that I’m wishing them wrinkles—or am I?

 

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