Let Me Tell You What I Think: No country for aging women

Teresa Sheffield

Who knew a woman who made her living off being a 1960’s sex symbol would also be a model for aging gracefully.

“Every age can be enchanting, provided you live within it,” Brigitte Bardot once said.

Problem is, many women don’t share her opinion.

We all know a woman who makes us uncomfortable because she refuses to accept she’s getting older. She’s a woman who has changed the cougar’s traditional hunting grounds of mountainous terrain into trendy nightclubs. She doesn’t just shop at Forever 21, she also considers its name to be her mantra on life.

Never Never Land Disease affects many women, an example being Amy Poehler’s hilarious mom character in the movie “Mean Girls.” She desperately clings to her youth by cheerfully interrupting her daughter’s make-out session to ask if she needs a condom, possessing perky fake boobs that are strangely immune to dog attacks, and by not so inconspicuously trying to sneak into her daughter’s high school prom pictures.

I’m not here to cast judgment.If you ask me in 30 years how I feel about getting old when the only time my name is applicable with the word “hot” is in conjunction with “flashes,” and when “gettin’ low” no longer refers to my dance moves but refers to my boobs, I’m not sure what I’ll say.

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been,” Mark Twain said in “Following the Equator.”

Why is it that in growing old, men become distinguished and women become ashamed? When I see lines on a woman’s face, I see wisdom and a witness to life. We all want to have something to show for our lives, and wrinkles are a testament to our existence and survival.

“Don’t complain about getting old,” an anonymous person said. “It’s a privilege denied to many.”

There’s a certain power that comes from experience, and nothing is more inspiring to me than a strong woman who has been through the trials of life, conquered them, and loves being in her own skin regardless of what it looks like.

These are not attributes the average woman in her twenties possesses in rich supply; these are things that are accumulated by living.

The book “Understanding Social Problems” by Linda A. Mooney, David Knox, and Caroline Schacht, explains that not all cultures have negative views on aging. Scandinavian countries provide government-supplemented in-home care of the elderly, and in Japan the older the person becomes, the more they are revered and have the right to sit at the heads of tables, enter a room first, and are considered heads of families.

Of course, Hollywood’s obsession with youth hasn’t done aging any favors.

In the television show “30 Rock,” after using a dangerous concoction of Botox, collagen treatments, chemical peels and an infusion of shark DNA on her face, the shallow and gullible celebrity, Jenna, is convinced she looks great.

“Admit it, I look 10 years younger,” Jenna says.

“No, younger even,” Tina Fey’s character says. “You look like a fetus.”

Young girls dress like 20-year-olds because they want to be older, and middle-aged women dress like 20-year-olds because they want to be younger. We spend half our lives waiting to live a few years of our lives, and the other half wishing we could re-live them. Why can we just appreciate where we’re at now?

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer,” author Zora Neale Hurston once said. Our lives follow the cycle of aging for a reason, and constantly longing for another time obscures the beauty of the present.

“The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time of life,” journalist and author Ray Stannard Baker said. “‘Why,’ I answered without a thought, ‘now.’”

[email protected]