The Everyday Reminders of Our Age
When I last went to the dentist, he suggested I had a set of X-Rays. As he moved the machine towards my head, I asked whether he was going to check if I might be pregnant first. He sighed and said, ‘If it will make you feel better.’
His presumption that my fertility is a distant memory is one example of the little things regularly reminding me of my age. Admittedly, it’s not as bad as the time I was wolf-whistled from behind and the miscreant looked back, saw my face and apologised.
From conversations with my friends, I’ve realised that women are constantly being reminded of how old they are. It’s almost as if the world is conspiring to destabilise us, to keep us in our place. Here’s how some of the worst offenders try to take us down:
I can’t escape the raised eyebrow of my teen as I float into the room in my new ‘fashionable’ outfit. I was led to believe that when I was the mother of a teenage girl, I would be the one saying, ‘You’re not going out in that!’ Not so. That’s her line.
When I’m trying to work out a function on my technological device one of my children will take it from my hands, unbidden, to do it for me, as though I’m an imbecile. (I’m ignoring memories of watching my mum try to work VCR here — that doesn’t help my cause)
People in the Service Industry
The bright young thing at the cosmetics counter is my enemy. You know the one, with foundation thicker than pan stick and lashes that could cause a Tsunami. She smiles as I tell her which moisturiser I’d like, only for her to suggest another because it’s more ‘intensive’.
I can’t even get an audience with the model/actress on the Mac counter. Apparently, I am not worthy.
Is it me, or does my yoga teacher look directly at me every time she says, ‘Those at level one, stay in this position.’?
I once queued with two friends outside a newly opened club and, in a moment of insecurity, asked the doorman if we were twenty years older than everyone in there, then watched him purse his lips and nod (this was two years ago and I’m still smarting).
Social Media Advertising
Bladder proof underwear, anyone? Night clothes which stave off hot flushes? It seems even Cookies and algorithms have a cruel streak programmed in.
If the adverts on my Social Media feeds aren’t bad enough, the catalogues coming through the post make me reach for my Zimmer frame. Thank you, but no, I am not in the demographic for nylon A-line skirts, Aztec print shawls or fur lined slippers. (Hold on, let me have another look at those slippers).
Mammograms, smears, gall stones, gynaecological malfunctions, the menopause — All the province of the 45+ woman.
Whilst I don’t understand why a woman would ever miss a medical screening, I totally get why one would balk at the indignity of it all. We are squashed, squeezed, probed and delved into, and none of it is pretty.
It seems to me that a reminder for some medical examination comes through weekly, reminding me that my body needs as much servicing as an old banger.
Places we go
Do you remember wanting to go to the hot new places in town (when hot wasn’t just a word that came before flush)? These days, whenever I step into a new venue, the lighting is so dim I read the cocktail menu by the light of my iPhone …at arm’s length, over the top of my pince-nez. And there’s never anywhere to sit down.
The toilets used to be somewhere to go out of necessity or for a gossip. At a chic place in 2019 it seems the lavs are now the perfect place for a selfie. In order to wash our hands, we have to fight for space with a crowd of girls in their scanties pouting at the mirror, phones aloft. What’s that all about?
Our Own Treacherous Bodies
When exactly did I lose the ability to get out of a chair without grunting, or sit without expelling a lungful of air?
Heels are no longer on the sartorial menu. Just as my thickening legs would benefit from elongating, my arthritic big toe refuses to bend. FFS.
I’ve started to fancy Captain Birdseye. How did that happen?
The tan I spent every youthful summer gaining is coming back to bite me on the arse. I may not have a melanoma yet, but the permanent brown stains on my cheeks and are more liver spot than St Tropez.
The menopause. I’ll just leave that there.
But then again….
Whilst discussing these daily reminders with friends, one voice was louder than the others. She said that she is in her prime. She is self-assured, experienced, independent, financially stable, and a magnet for those who want advice and reassurance. She finds all this much more fulfilling than having a firm arse and 20:20 vision.
And, of course, she’s right. These tiny knives, which serve as age-reminders, can only cut us if we have fragile skin, and many of us have suffered enough blows to have toughened up by this age. It would be a kinder world if experience and wisdom were valued as much as youth, but since, in our culture, they’re not, we simply have to be sage enough to know our own worth and that of our glorious peers.