Privileges of Aging–Part One–Adjustments to Body Image

imageAdmittedly there was a time in my life when the poster that inspired this exploration of the privileges of aging with the photograph of an obviously older alibet beautiful, graceful, limber female would unleash an avalanche of not so positive reactions.  Not the least of these feelings would be envy–translation: my basest self wanting to snatch her bald headed, followed swiftly by denial–translation: it’s lighting, Photo Shop, ‘no way is this woman real!’.  And then because of all the insecurities from awkward teenager till now, I would have slid into despair.  Comparison to another always leaves one feeling lacking or God help me superior.  Yes, she is beautiful, elegant, and limber, but I am not her, nor is she me.  If I had focused on her elegance in comparison to my clumsiness, I WOULD HAVE MISSED THE WHOLE POINT!  To be alive, to be aging is a privilege.  For me as a Christian, it means God hasn’t finished with me yet.  There is still his plan for my life, his vision, and my opportunity to discover it and live it out….until, this is an almost 100% certainty, I die.

One privilege of still having time, however long, here on earth is that body image changes.  Oh, it isn’t for most of us…speaking for females here…that we stop caring how we look, we just come to terms with it.  I weighed 100 lbs when I got married 50 years ago.  I weigh about 150 lbs today…a pound for every year of marriage.  I am trying to hold it there, but truth is I do not fret much about it.  When Terry had cancer, he lost almost 50 lbs during treatment and the aftermath of treatment.  A few pounds helps if you get sick.

We were out with friends a while back..and he said he noticed his hair was thinning slightly in the front and he once was 2 inches taller…his concern about this escalated until he confessed it to his wife, “I am turning into a bald dwarf!”  She said, “If you think that’s bad, you should see your butt.”  We may be growing older, but we still check ourselves out in the mirror.  Our spouses and friends check us out, but truth is the general public pays little attention.

If I take my physical body’s appearance too seriously I might become one of those folks doing botox, face lifts, liposuction, and whatever new cosmetic surgery that comes on the horizon. Most of us still try to put our best foot, face forward, suck in the belly before we strike out for any place public.  Personally, I try to get a good haircut, have my eyebrows shaped and my face waxed, but take my word on this…NOT getting waxed anyplace else.  We choose different ways to express our aging process physically, but I have decided the best cosmetic surgery, body sculpting, clothes do little if my attitude is sour….a smile does wonders even on the wrinkliest face and a frown adds years.

Grumpy and Grinny

Grumpy and Grinny

Want to know the body part I worry the most about…MY EARS…People often refer to aging folks as getting long in the tooth, but I am most concerned about my ears…WHY?  Back in the day when Two and a Half Men was still funny on occasion, there was an episode in Season 5 where Alan tried to get Charlie to consider dating more age appropriate women and Charlie went off on AGING EARS:

Alan:  We have a wonderful time because we have so much in common.
We can talk, we can share, we can laugh.
Charlie:  Talking, sharing and laughing is fine but what about her ears?.
Alan:  What about them?.
Charlie: Ears never stop growing, Alan.
And I like a nice, taut lobe.
Alan:  This conversation is over.
I will see you later.
Charlie: Why do you think old ladies wear big earrings?.
To make their ears look smaller.

imageSince that time I regularly check my ears and I am sure Charlie is right, my earlobes are lengthening, but  I have not seen many folks with lobes bouncing on their shoulders so since My EARRINGS STILL FIT big or small, I can live with being Long in the Lobe.

imageOne of the privileges of aging is coming to terms with who I am physically.  My boobs may be sagging, my thighs may meet as I walk, but I AM BLESSED to be married to a man who still finds me attractive with whom I can laugh as we cope together with our aging bodies.  I feel freer to be who I am, who God made me to be than I ever did when I weighed 100 lbs and looked not too bad in a bikini.  So what if I wear full coverage swimwear now, I still put it on. I am freer to dress like I want even outlandishly if I choose, because folks will just say, ” look at that crazy old woman.”  and if I can bring a smile to someone’s face, I help them age gracefully.

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