Aging Gracefully

I've always said that I would fight my white hair. After all, I do love dying my hair. Quite frankly, I don't really dye it for vanity's sake, but because hair grows back, and I can play with it. It's like doing art on my body that, unlike a tattoo, can be done away with when I get tired of it.

 A few moths ago, I looked at my white hair and made peace with it. I am 36 years old, and I have white hair. Oh, not all of it is white. In fact, most of it is still dark brown. The white is getting more prolific, though, and it's a different texture than the rest of my hair.

But we don't like to see women aging. In fact, most people in America can't guess a woman's age accurately because we don't know what a 50 year old woman looks like naturally. Imagine! Wrinkles around your eyes! Wrinkles around your mouth. Wrinkles on your forehead!! We have an entire industry built on the premise of helping keep us from getting wrinkles, reducing wrinkles, and hiding them when we finally succumb to the inevitable. Women are not allowed to have wrinkles! *Just when I was free tagging this post, eight different tags came up about preventing wrinkles.

A friend recently posted a link to this article. It shows pictures before and after they've been Photoshopped. Take a minute and go look at those pictures. Do we really want to forget what it looks like to age? Do we really want to forget what age brings our society?

In 2007, Rush Limbaugh jumped right off the cliff, as he so often does, of political correctness when he said we wouldn't want to watch Hillary Clinton age in the presidential office. But he was right. The fact that this picture of Hillary was being described as "unflattering" tells the entire story. We don't like to see women with wrinkles.

It use to be that this picture would have brought to mind a woman who had lived a long life, one who was wise and had much to share with society. Now, this picture just engenders disgust and a fear of growing old.

When did we stop allowing our women to age? Perhaps it is a biological thing. After all, post-menopausal women are no longer able to bear children, that thing we were created for. Perhaps biology is what causes men to appreciate younger women, and women to appreciate older men. Older men signify stability, while younger women signify progeny.

But older women use to have a place in our society. I think that when women stopped being grandmothers, we decided that we couldn't age. We have to compete with younger women for our jobs, and that vitality that we see in younger women makes us feel the need to change the way we look. I wish that our society would recognize the wealth of knowledge and wisdom the older generation can give us, and start looking at those wrinkles as badges of lives well lived. It would do much for our society to recognize that age comes before we retire, and letting our wrinkles happen is not giving up, but accepting who we are. And who we are is something to be admired, appreciated, and emulated.

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