I really am forty. In a two months and a few days, I’ll be forty-one, and hopefully, no worse for wear. I know it’s all the rage to appear to be twenty-nine forever, but I can’t really get down with that. I feel sad for women who think looking young is important, because the undertone of that is that age renders beauty obsolete, whereas I think youth is its own beauty. Old age is beautiful, too. Differently, but not lesser.
Somehow looking young forever has become a desirable goal. I always wonder if the people who think they looked their best at twenty ever considered how much better they looked at age five? Have you seen kindergartners? The whole lot of them, absolutely stunning. Perfect, flawless skin, clear eyes, tiny straight teeth, maybe a dimple here or some freckles there, but always looking well-rested, full of energy, undeniably vibrant.
Having taught kindergarten, it’s obvious to me that each day, we all need to spend two 45-minute intervals outside, running amok and playing. Of course, between those intervals, we need to have some quiet time, where we lie down with blankies and entertain ourselves merely with our own thoughts, be they waking or dreaming ones. We should eat our veggies as if our mothers are watching, and we should do our very best to live our lives as if each task holds the possibility of granting us a gold star.
While living kindergarten-ly isn’t always possible, are you even trying?
Because you know, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it matters how you live. You don’t have a lot of control over how you look. Just over a year ago, I was deformed from cellulitis, and two months ago I was in the midst of an atrocious Rosacea flare. Any moment, I could fall victim to some sorta facial burn, crime, or car accident and never look the same again.
So I appreciate my face, at face value.
And I’m GLAD I’m showing signs of age. GLAD. Because 1) I’m still alive and 2) Because I’m tired of being viewed as young.
Let me explain.
At nineteen, I went into my first classroom. I was repeatedly stopped by staff who asked me if I had a hall pass. I wore skirts and blazers with heels, but I looked like I was a middle-schooler.
At twenty-one, I traveled with a family as a nanny. I was repeatedly presumed to be the oldest child of a couple in their thirties.
At twenty-three, a visitor assumed I was the child of my boss.
At twenty-four, I was stopped by a student who offered to sell me some weed. He was mortified to find out I was subbing in his building.
At twenty-four, my date was my father. A lot of them were my father, if you didn’t know better.
At twenty-five, the bartender on the lunch shift delivered all the alcoholic drinks to my tables because she thought I was underage.
At twenty-six, almost every Friday, I was out running errands with two kids and two others I babysat. I was assumed, more than once, to be an unwed teenage mother with at least two baby daddies, and I decided to start wearing my wedding ring.
At twenty-six, the real estate agent believed I was a child bride.
When I was twenty-nine, I went to have my hair done, and the stylist suggested Botox. Specifically, “Bangs or Botox — one or the other,” she said as she pointed to the vertical line running down between my eyebrows. While I could not get over how incredibly rude her comment was, I found myself very pleased. Was this tiny crease between my eyes really making me look older?
When I was pregnant, at twenty-eight, twenty-nine, and thirty years of age, I was constantly asked my age in a way that condemned me for being pregnant at such a young age.
At thirty, I really started getting pissed.
At thirty-three, some Shaggy-lookin 17-year-old at the park asked me out.
No one takes you seriously when you look like a co-ed. You may as well be a kindergartner.
Not on either side of a parent-teacher conference, not when you’re makin a major purchase, and not even when you’re sure cancer knows you’re 38 and the doctor thinks you’re 25.
Even now, I get carded by younger waitstaff, I am stopped to be told there is no way these two girls are mine, Why, I could be their sister! I am constantly asked my age.
A few months ago, a woman told me to enjoy my youth.
All this emphasis on youth and beauty really isn’t good for anyone who isn’t profiting from it.
— Like the people who made this software program! So your friend can put your photo into it, and then erase your wrinkles, freckles, and pimples, airbrush you to shiny perfection, add make-up, extend your lashes, whiten your teeth, highlight your hair, shape and fill your brows, and even take the little yellow dots outta yer eyes, until you’re like, “Well she’s pretty, but I don’t even know who she is…” worse than that time you got a makeover at the Lancôme counter.
The people who created this app are surely rollin around naked in a pile of one hundred dollar bills, and most likely, for two 45-minute intervals a day.