Aging is a mixed bag. It brings sweetness and scares; provokes laughter and sometimes screams. Unwrap these real-life stories of what it’s like to grow old and female. We promise, there’s all a treat to read!
What are your favorite stories of aging? Share them in comments below or in social media. We’ll update our collection here.
The Women in My Life Taught Me to Love Aging
Healthline | Tatiana Ward
Maybe the way we perceive age is mainly in part due to how the women who raised us also perceived it.
As children, we learned what love is, the inner workings of a marriage, and what relationships are like — or at least what we pictured those things to be. It makes sense that we learn how to define aging through other’s eyes, too.
To most, getting older means slowing down until death. To a few, like my grandmother and the women in our family, getting older meant a promotion, a victory celebrating what we overcame.
You know her.
She is in your friendship circle, hidden in plain sight.
She is 55, broke and tired of trying to keep up appearances. Faking normal is wearing her out.
To look at her, you wouldn’t know that her electricity was cut off last week for non-payment or that she meets the eligibility requirements for food stamps. Her clothes are still impeccable, bought in the good times when she was still making money.
I have a special superpower: I am invisible. I am a 69-year-old woman and didn’t discover that I had this “gift” until I was in my early 50s.
Lots of women know precisely what I’m talking about. As they age, they feel increasingly unseen—marginalized by the younger, the newer, the fresher fruit in the basket. I’d opine that at the core of this phenomenon is an overall broader lack of respect for the elderly except that many older men seem to stay visible pretty much all the way down the Depends aisle. Women? Not so much. And I suspect it’s a contributing factor as to why more older women than men live in poverty, which the National Institute on Retirement Security says we do in spades.
After all, if we aren’t being seen, we aren’t being hired, promoted, given raises, or valued
It seems like only yesterday that I was railing against Botox, shocked that anyone would inject a substance whose real name was ‘botulinum toxin’ into their faces, shocked that women would give up the opportunity to raise their eyebrows. But I’ve read that Botox is more subtly applied now, and doesn’t freeze your forehead into a big blank slab, and I think, well, maybe. …
I have to say, I resent having to think about any of this. I’m not really the type. I came of age in the 70s, when it really did seem as if women were not going to be judged, and judge themselves, on their looks. In retrospect, this period was a mere blip, an aberration, but for awhile there, a lot of us really did think that. Those of you who are too young to remember will just have to believe me.
People don’t expect much of you when you’re old, and you get quite a lot of kudos if you do show you’re still up for anything even remotely active. I recently went on a trip abroad by myself, and my sons were agog.
Of course, aged parents should always strive to keep their descendants in a salutary state of recurrent surprise, or even mild alarm, or failing that, embarrassment: you know, singing old standards in public, or complaining vigorously if you’ve been served sub-standard food or ripped off for drinks. I once asked a theatre barman if he had a funnel to pour the wine back into the bottle, after I found out that a glass cost £8.
I emerged from the dressing room … and asked the sales associate, “Am I too old for this dress?”
It wasn’t super short, just in that in-between space where you would ask yourself — and maybe text a close friend with a photo — if, styled correctly, it was professional enough for a presentation. …
“Well, how old are you?” she asked, earnest and even pensive.
“55,” I replied.
She seemed visibly shaken, as if I had just confessed to a gruesome crime years earlier and whispered to her where the evidence was buried.
Would going gray require me to listen to folk music, host potlucks featuring casseroles of tempeh and wear fibrous, hand-woven caftans, accented with chunky, hand-forged jewelry?
Or could it be it a ticket to another way of being a woman in the world? …
I was fascinated by the glittery tresses my body produced. How they caught the light and shimmered. I detected not 1 percentage drop of interest from my husband (the aforementioned Mark). There were no inferior work assignments or loss of love or friendship.
Shockingly, I just felt pretty.
In my mid-fifties, however, I found myself single again, and remained so until well into my sixties.
The first thing I discovered was the chronic shortage of available men. Like the London sparrows, they had simply disappeared. …
Still, there were a few of them out there. They did look startlingly old, though. In a long marriage you age together; in a weird way your spouse remains that young person you first knew, you hardly notice the wrinkles and the thickening waist.
It’s different for people in my position. When I meet a man he mirrors back to me my own mortality. It gives me a shock to realise I’m that old. And he’s probably thinking just the same.
At first, the aging process upset me. It filled me with despair and humiliation. I began to disparage myself and close off my options.
But then I got creative. I decided to let something else emerge and, to my surprise and wonder, the creative process of aging, like any creative process, turned out to be both exhilarating and challenging.
What are your favorite stories of aging? Share them below or in social media. We started collecting stories in 2018.
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