Reason number MCMLXXVIII (whatever that is) why it’s not so bad being not-so-young:
You can let yourself go a little in the looks department.
In fact, if you make too much of a fuss about your looks you’ll just make a joke of yourself and look like you’re trying too hard.
That’s not to say you should throw out all your mirrors, let those mole hairs grow in, unhook that tired old bra, and dig your dirty-fingernailed paw into a bag of pork rinds (unless you really, really love pork rinds, but not every day–come on, now). You can, though, stop worrying about whether your skin is firm and tanned enough, whether your hair is thick and shiny enough, or whether you have enough spackle on your face to hide all those blemishes and wrinkles you’ve earned. (Men, substitute your own chosen concerns.)
In short, you can ease up on yourself a little and relax. Especially if you’re solidly paired up. GASP! I know–that is the opposite of what all the women’s mags tell us. And we’ve all heard about someone who has “really let herself go” since marriage, family, and middle age took hold, and it’s always said with a mixture of pity and contempt, as if the accused has committed a public offense as well as a private one to her partner. But I’m not talking about giving up completely and schlumping around looking like crap warmed over all the time. I’m just talking about acknowledging that fact that the people who love you have already seen you looking your crappiest, and somehow they still see the beauty in you.
This is coming from a girly-girl. I will never stop loving nice clothes and shoes and lipstick and sparkly jewelry (even if I work at home and spend most of my time in jeans and t-shirts and bare feet–always with toenail polish, mind you). I enjoy trying to look good, because it makes me feel good and stand up straight and smile more. Still, no matter how much time and effort I spend getting fixed up, you’re still going to be able to see me getting older, so why should I try to deny that?
Before I try too hard to dress like a twentysomething, wear my hair like a twentysomething, have the complexion of a something, and stay as skinny as a twentysomething, I only need to watch an episode of Real Housewives of Anywhere (but especially Beverly Hills) to see that I’m just going to end up looking like a really weird-looking, somewhat pathetic fortysomething who needs approval really badly.
Today I have neither anywhere to go nor any desire to work too hard, so I’ve chosen to spend the day in yoga pants and a t-shirt (granted, it’s a really cute t-shirt), with no makeup on and barely-brushed hair. You can see every damned broken capillary on my slightly rosacea-tinted face. And yet neither my husband, nor my stepdaughter, nor my mother-in-law had even a hint of disgust on their faces when we saw each other this morning. I’d like them all to know I really appreciate that, and they are welcome to enter my field of vision looking every bit as unkempt as I do right now, any time they wish.
Age is the real beauty. Sure, you might be thinking, easy to say now that you’re getting a little age on you! But it’s true. I really regret that my grandmother, mother, and I never took a picture of our hands together, because we used to put them all next to each other and compare occasionally. My grandmother would always laugh at her old hands next to our progressively smoother, younger ones, but I always thought they were beautiful, telling a story of experience and wisdom. They were hands to be proud of. I hope to be around long enough to have such well-worn hands, and lots more laugh lines, too.
But I will always paint my toes! I mean, why not?