This year on my Birthday, I not only turn a year but also a decade older. I am now firmly ensconced in the so-called “middle-age” category. This realization set thoughts turning in my head. When you are in the middle-age group you are struck with the fact that the years have suddenly added up to a big enough number. Despite the facials and the expensive face-creams, there are a few lines on your face. You get tired more often than you previously did, maybe now spectacles are needed to read the restaurant menu and the rich gravies of restaurant dinners can lead to severe heartburn. The night about town on stilettos gives way to binge-watching shows on Netflix, sitting on your couch in your jammies.
We suddenly wake up one day, look in the mirror and are suddenly dissatisfied. We are dissatisfied with our appearance, our weight, our hair, and our routine mundane lives. We look at celebrities gracing the covers of tabloids, looking exactly the same as they did twenty years ago, gallivanting off to exotic locations. We look at them and we wonder, “Why not me?” We are bombarded with advertisements of Olay, Nivea, Loreal, all selling youth. They want us to use them, to banish any faint lines that might dare to show on our faces. We color and volumize our hair so that it may look better and not show that we went through pregnancies and childbirth. We go on diets and to Zumba classes, not just because we want to get our cholesterol into range, but mainly so that we can fit into dresses which were bought ten years ago. Some of us manage to do all this and more. Most of us, despite our best efforts, fail. And this failure, further adds to our sense of inadequacies.
We have put unbelievable amounts of pressure on ourselves to look younger than our years. We are so scared of being labeled as the neighborhood “auntie” that we try our level best to be the lissome twenty-five-year old that we were. Whereas once we eagerly wanted to grow older and more independent, we now want to go back to those younger carefree days.”You look younger than your age” or “You have maintained yourself so well” are the compliments we always aim for. Woe betides if someone guesses our age or the (horror!!!) thinks we are older than what we actually are!!
The beauty industry, celebrity culture, social media, and society, in general, have somehow made getting older a taboo. Despite all the articles on body positivity and acceptance the truth of the matter is we are living in a visual world. We have become so obsessed with our appearances that we, quite often, forget about the person underneath. We forget that the person might have got those frown lines worrying about the health of a parent, those grey hair might be due to the stress of the job and meeting deadlines, the chipped and cracked nails may be due to cooking healthy so that the children get a nutritious meal.
We want to look younger, not realizing that we are not the same people anymore. The person whom we were twenty years ago has been shaped and molded by the experiences of life, the good times, the moments of darkness, the moments of self-doubt and the moments of accomplishment. All these moments have made us the person we are now.
And I guess it is time to accept that fact.