Our culture is so youth oriented that we focus on how old we look much more than how old we feel. Suppose I look twenty years younger than my actual age, but I can’t get up out of my chair and on to the dance floor with the “other” forty-year olds? Is that better than grey hair, wrinkles, and awesome moves? I think that, once again, men have an advantage here. A guy can have some character in his face, greying temples, and still be damned sexy, especially if he has got the moves. Women feel compelled to nip and tuck, Botox and dye, spend millions on cosmetics that purport to do all kinds of things. We can be so caught up in artifice that we forget about the real things: Enough sleep, appropriate exercise, good food. Happiness.
I hope my male readers will forgive me a few words to the ladies: A few days ago, I was talking with a couple of my “girl” friends and one woman complained about her sagging boobs. “They never were like that!” She insisted. “They were gorgeous and perky!” Another woman said that our friend was just wearing the wrong size bra, a fact I could easily confirm for myself since the bra was visible through our friend’s white blouse. I also wore the wrong size most of my life and read an article only a few years ago that explained bra sizing. Basically, if the back of the bra climbs up your back, the bra is too large. This refers to the diameter of your chest directly under your breasts. It does not signify the extent of your endowment. That’s the cup size. When you get the right size bra, you will probably have to go up at least one cup size. For example, if you have been wearing 36C, you might change to 34D. You will be surprised how much more comfortable, and how much better supported, you will feel.
Pendulous breasts, which no doubt are one of the disappointments of aging for many women, has not been an adjustment for me. Mine were always that way. As a teenager, it was a major problem in my insecure teenaged mind. My boobs hung there on my chest like overripe mangoes. They didn’t pop up perkily like posies. The search for the best, most supportive bra took up a lot of attention much of my youth and my adult life. Of course, I was buying the wrong size. But I bought expensive bras with lots of wires for support. The wires would eventually come out of their casing and poke me under the arm just when I was making a presentation in class. It was something I suffered with quietly, like heavy menstrual periods. (Bear with me, guys, I’m almost through) The poking wires, blood stained panties, and twisted pantyhose were indignities to suffer in silence. Now it’s the indignities of getting older: being unable to read signs and menus without digging for my glasses, being unable to run upstairs, being wary of driving at night or traveling alone, being essentially invisible .
Though they may be at some advantage, men suffer the same indignities. My former husband used to get so frustrated with his reading glasses, he’d throw them across the room. The choices are rarely advantageous, it’s the lesser of two evils: bifocals or changing glasses for different tasks. I actually stopped reading for pleasure for a while. Reading was not pleasurable when I had to go find glasses and get used to the feeling of them on my face. Later on, I got acclimated and started reading again. Recently, I’ve noticed my night vision is not as good as it once was. It becomes more difficult to sit in one spot for a long time, especially a spot without a cushion. One stands up and wobbles about for a moment, feeling stiff.
In spite of all this, recent studies suggest that older folks are generally happier than young people. Now that’s interesting. We have lost many things – people, possessions, professional identities, health and strength. We have less time on the planet to anticipate and many things behind us. For these reasons and more, the instances of depression among older people is high, yet overall we are happier. Perhaps it is the fact of the losses in itself that brings about the happiness. We relax about things. We realize we aren’t our bodies, our houses, our cars, or our professional identities. How could we be? They are gone and we are still here. Thank goodness for that.