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Act Your Age: Growing Old with Grace

Act Your Age: Growing Old with Grace
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BY MYRA FAYE TURNER

We live in a youth-obsessed culture. Women are particularly ridiculed for aging naturally. You might recall the hoopla after the release of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens when some trolls decided to trash Carrie Fisher’s looks.  Fisher, 59, had to actually take to social media and defend herself against a bunch of idiots who felt she looked “old”. Mind you, these same trolls probably hadn’t even been born when Fisher first appeared on the screen and they probably think anyone over the age of 30 is old. I think she looks pretty damn good.

In midlife, you naturally start thinking about what you’ve accomplished and what things you’ve missed out on. You might have a crisis and feel restless— feel like you need to do something with your life. This may manifest in reckless or foolish behavior. A man might buy a sports car or get a young trophy wife. Women may think of getting a nip here and a tuck there.

I partially blame the media for the negative way we view aging. How many midlife models do you see in ad campaigns? Not many. How many ads do you see touting age-defying cures that go against natural aging? Too many to count. What about you, are you acting your age? Let’s look at four areas some mid-lifers often try to stop the aging clock.

Make-Up

I’ve never worn makeup. Oh, I’ve worn the occasional lipstick and eye shadow but I’ve never worn foundation, eyeliner, etc. and I’m not about to start now. Women (and men) wear makeup to hide their perceived flaws and imperfections and when you get older these flaws tend to magnify— even if only in your mind. If you enjoy wearing makeup, by all means go right ahead, just make sure you don’t overdo it and make common mistakes. Some tend to pile it on a little too thick and end up looking like a walking corpse. Many women also never really learned how to apply their makeup correctly. So if you’re going to wear makeup, make sure you’re doing it right.

Dress Appropriately

Pssst… ladies just because they make a mini skirt in your size, does not mean you have to wear one. I don’t care how nice a body you have. And trust me, no one wants to see your “tramp stamp” tattoo peeking from your low rise jeans or your thong straps.

Men, you don’t get off easy either. Don’t wear your jeans sagging— we don’t want to see your tidy whities either and y’all should know this particular fashion faux pas started in the prison system. Stop dressing like you’re twenty. And speaking of sagging, stay away from those pants that look like you’ve taken a dump. Ditto for urban wear or anything from Kanye West. You’re not Hakeem from Empire, so stop trying to dress like him. Keep it classy fellows.

True, you don’t have to dress frumpy in mom jeans or wear your moth-riddled leisure suit from the 70s. You simply need to dress appropriate for your age. Otherwise, you’re gonna look a hot mess. Mind you, at any age you need to dress for your age and body type, it simply looks worse when an older person is obviously trying to look younger.

For both sexes, wear clothes that are form fitting but not tight. You should also avoid clothes that don’t flatter your current body type. I recall the days when I wore a size 0. Well, those days are long gone and I’m okay with that. I’m not going to try to stuff by not-size 0 into a size 0 outfit. And neither should you. You can still dress fashionably in midlife and not look like you raided some teenager’s closet—even curvy girls like myself.

Play With Kids Your Own Age

If you married young and spent years raising a family, you may think you missed out on doing fun things and now you want to hang with a young crowd so that you too will feel young. Your party animal days are probably long behind you. My only child was born when I was 36 so I had many years to run the streets, sleep late on weekends and do whatever I wanted to do without having to worry about another human being. So I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. But some may feel differently and try to recapture their fleeting youth by hanging with the youngsters and/or acting hip. Don’t do it. You will end up looking like— as my mom would say— “a plum fool”.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to socialize with younger people. When I was younger, I tended to spend more time with people outside my age group. I always said it was because I was a late-in-life baby and my siblings were older and also I spent a lot of time in the company of my mom and her friends. As an adult, I naturally gravitated toward a slightly older crowd. But the difference is their behavior. I would never have wanted to spend time with a person who was trying to act younger, even now. It’s okay to go out once in a while with younger co-workers or to have younger friends, as long as you’re not trying to regain your youth or live vicariously through them.

Also stop trying to sound young and hip. Stop LOL-ing and ROTFLMAO-ing in your text messages. Same for the latest slang words and phrases. Okay, sometimes just for fun I will annoy my son by dropping a phrase into conversation to show him how cool I am. Right now it’s “low key”. When I do, he looks at me, rolls his eyes and tells me to please stop. But I would never try to appear cool to other young people during a conversation. Last time I tried to do that, maybe 8 years or so ago, I inadvertently jumbled up Myspace with Facebook and called it MyFace.

It’s okay to remain young at heart. I often say that having a baby late in life has, in some ways kept me feeling younger. But you don’t have to have young kids to feel young. Get up out of your rocker but don’t head to the clubs. Just like appropriate clothes and make up, look for age appropriate activities to do with other mid-lifers. Today’s older adults aren’t sitting around playing Bingo, Mahjong and Shuffleboard. There are many active midlife adults you can have fun with, people closer to your own age. 

Just Say No to Unnecessary Cosmetic Surgery

Celebrities with their Botox injections, personal trainers and chefs, etc., set unrealistic expectations for the rest of us. As a result, it seems like people are having procedures at a younger age but many mid-lifers also use surgery as a way to try and fool their body into thinking it’s not getting older. Write this down: You cannot reverse aging, no matter how much surgery you have or despite the claims you see online or in magazines.

Now, of course if you follow a beauty regimen when you’re younger, you’ll age better than someone who doesn’t. Of course, some people also have good genes and never seem to age at all with no intervention on their part. I low key (see what I did there?) hate those people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m for people doing whatever makes them feel good and unfortunately, some people can’t feel good on the inside unless they look perfect on the outside. I am against unnecessary and frequent medical procedures aimed at stopping the aging process, which we know can’t be done. Even if you have the body and face of a 30-year-old, inside, you’ll still have the organs of an 80-year-old.

There are many non-invasive procedures and natural options you should investigate before deciding on potentially dangerous procedures. Just remember that if you choose to go under the knife and end up with a face as smooth as a baby’s ass and a neck as wrinkled as a prune— you’re going to look foolish.

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