Sunday, June 13, 2010

The ultimate losing battle

I've just spent a marvellous week reclining on the couch drinking lots of coffee, eating lots of biscuits, and researching (i.e. reading) background stuff about middle-age. Some of the books/articles/print-outs were thought-provoking, some were boring, and some were just hysterically funny. I am now a font of fascinating trivia, such as apparently a Saudi Arabian woman can get a divorce if her husband doesn't bring her coffee (sounds reasonable), or grapefruit scent can make an older woman appear six years younger to men (perhaps the smell makes them squint), or the fact that the world's strongest vagina belongs to middle-aged Tatiata Kozhevnikova, who uses hers to lift 14kilos of weight (and I seriously do not want to know the logistics of this remarkable feat). Plus I learnt several anti-ageing tips, such as one thing that instantly ages an older woman is to dress head to toe in the same designer (dang, there goes my wardrobe). Even apart from being very useful for my eventual book, I fully expect that my possession of all this assorted trivia will enhance my desirability as a dinner-party guest forthwith.
However something that did strike me about a lot of the material I devoured during the week was a tendency by several authors to treat ageing as some type of battle. And therefore, by the very nature of things (i.e. being alive), as an ongoing battle. Apparently one needs to fight, to attack, and to launch counter-offensives - which may be why last week we learnt a perfectly lovely looking 18yr old girl/woman was on her way overseas to have a tummy tuck, breast uplifts/implants, and a vaginal tightening. It seems she could barely look in the mirror (one assumes this was due to the first two issues and not the third). I dearly hope, for her sake, that these operations will be everything she wants and needs - but I highly doubt it. She's just started 'battling' a little early than most, that's all.
The problem, as I see it, is that this is a battle which simply cannot be won. No matter how vigilant you are. That's not to say we shouldn't aim to be the best possible version of ourselves at each life-phase, and exactly what that entails will vary from woman to woman. Speaking for myself I have no intention of ageing gracefully, I've never been renowned for my gracefulness so what the hell. But I do intend on maintaining a healthy relationship with my own ageing - sort of a 'you rub my back, I'll rub yours' type of thing. Where I look after myself, within limits, and I also have fun, within limits. Like any good relationship I'll probably push things a little too far at times, and there'll be some resentment, and regrets, but at the end of the day well, we're stuck with each other. And there's too much I still want to accomplish to waste time being my own worst enemy. Literally. So by all means lather on the moisturiser, enjoy the facials and manicures and pedicures, even go the botox or the plastic surgery if it makes you feel good - but don't visualise the whole thing as a battle. Because if you do then you're going to have to label yourself a loser. It's as simple as that.

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