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Gracefully Aging VS Aging Gracefully

When this piece is published, I will be exactly two weeks away from turning 51. At 7:55 a.m. on May 3, 2021, I will have been on this large marble called Earth for 447,072 hours! Some people will look at those numbers and refer to me as "old," and others who will not. The amount of time I have been alive will not have changed, and yet, some will consider me young or old based on their perspective. What do I consider myself? Well, I'm almost 51! I am younger than some, older than others, and no matter what, I am ME! The number of years I've been here neither defines me nor should I label m,e old or young. Young or old is relative to what it is being compared with. I've much more to learn and do in this world. Also, I have (at this moment, just shy of 51 years of) knowledge and experience to bestow on the world.

When I turned 50, I had a few people (knowing full well that I was turning 50) say, "Happy 29th!" with a wink and a smile. I smiled, thanked them, and added, "Oh, I'm 50 and don't mind at all." I don't want to be 29. I did that already. I'm 50 years, 11 months, and 16 days (at the time of publishing), and I've earned every moment. It seems to me that society has instilled in us that aging for women is bad. Aging is a wonderful thing for libations, and cheese, even for most men, but women are expected to "age gracefully"! That particular mantra is confusing because what the movies and advertising put out there really mean is not age at all! There is no "gracefully" about it, women are supposed to stay youthful, as far as their looks, and there is no room for aging. What if we were to embrace aging and "gracefully age" instead?

Men aren't bombarded with anti-aging creams, commercials, and magazine article after article to "combat the signs of aging." (It is not that there isn't any, it is just not nearly as prevalent.) As men age, they get described as "debonair" or "distinguished" while women get told they are looking tired, weak, or feeble. Movies put male actors in their sixties and seventies in relationships with female actors only in the late twenties. It's no wonder we feel women aren't allowed to age. The photos of famous women are airbrushed to perfection. Many in the spotlight have taken unnatural measures to slow or reverse the signs of aging. Women spend a lot of time and money on makeup, colored hair, fake hair, fake nails, fake lashes, hide this, tuck that, all in an attempt to hang onto youth or cover what others have deemed "imperfections".

I've had well-meaning friends suggest that I color my hair because it will make me appear younger. I always wonder why. Why do I want to appear anything other than what I am? Every line, white hair, wrinkle, scratch, and circle under my eyes is a story of where I have been. Don't get me wrong, taking care of our skin and bodies is, of course, a good thing to do. Also, if coloring your hair to cover greys or just because you would rather be brunette or blond makes you happy, I say go for it. Respect and see the beauty in those who don't as well. Genes, ethnicity, stress, wealth, education, lack of wealth or education, healthy/unhealthy living, and gender all affect how we age. Some of this we control, much of this we do not. How we treat those around us regarding their age, how they look, or anything is completely on each one of us.

All of this goes back to the adage many mothers have bestowed upon their children, "If you haven't anything nice to say, best to say nothing at all." Women need to empower other women by recognizing each of us as beautiful at every age, at whatever size, with or without makeup. It is okay to be in love with your age. It is okay to celebrate. We need to show the next generation, both males and females, the importance of respecting that we all age differently and even wrinkles and grey hair is beautiful. Eventually, maybe, the magazines, movies, and products will follow. It will take time, a long time. I will most likely not live to see it, though I shall not lose hope. More importantly, I will not stop being an example of unconditional love, respect, and "bringer of joy" because that is who I am and what 50+ years have taught me.

I love you as YOU! You're the only YOU I know. I don't want YOU to be anyone else. Love yourself. Be kind. Gracefully age and never stop looking at the world with wonder.

Love Lots; Smile Often



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