Wrinkle, Schminkle: The Upside To Aging
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to get older? Whether it was a driver’s license, an ID that let you drink legally, or your own grown-up apartment, being older just seemed so much more glamorous. So mature.
Then at some point all the good parts about aging start to fall to the wayside. Instead of reaching maturity, you find yourself reaching for a box of Feria to cover the gray hair you just discovered. That ID you were once so happy to flash becomes a source of embarrassment as you realize the doorman is giving you the “this bitch is bringing down our cool-factor” face. The worst part—people no longer look surprised when you tell them your age.
Gulp. OK, so obviously, this column was sponsored by the partnership of Looming Birthday & PMS (the only part of youth I won’t miss).
In an attempt to make myself feel better about being another year closer to death, I assembled an all-ages panel of women to e-discuss the myriad merits of aging. And, you know, we came up with some really good points!
You’re no longer crazy—you’re eccentric!
Youngsters can get away with wearing anything. When I was 20, I had a foot-high mohawk and used a tartan scarf wrapped around my butt as a skirt. But you hit 30 and it’s expected that you’ll quit shopping at thrift stores and start dropping coin at tasteful joints like J.Crew. What I’m excited about is getting to the age where I can embrace my inner Mrs. Roper (Google her, whippersnappers!) and start rockin’ muumuus and Crazy Colors once again.
You don’t sweat the small —or small-minded — stuff!
“You’re no longer rebelling against your parents or trying to escape the family you were born into,” says Sherrill Tippins, author of February House and an upcoming history of the Chelsea Hotel. She adds, “And you no longer waste time hanging out with people you don’t like.”
Who cares about cool?
Let’s face it, once you’re past 30, you’re technically uncool anyway, but at a certain age, you quit caring about it. Does it really matter that you’ve never heard of three-quarters of the bands playing SXSW? Nope. Plus, as writer Virginia Vitzthum points out, “If you are sort of cool then you get to be the ambassador of aging—we can be the example that you don’t have to stay home and watch ‘Murder She Wrote’ reruns!” As long as no one tries to take away my “Golden Girls.”
People give you money!
Comedian/professional smarty-pants Jen Dziura started her first company when she was just twenty. Starting that young, she said, “It’s pretty hard to convince people to trust you with large sums of money. But in your thirties, it’s much easier.” Sherrill agrees that making money gets easier. “You have a pretty good idea of what your time/skills/experience are worth. So you’re better able to turn down jobs that don’t pay well enough.” While nobody has entrusted me with large—or even medium—sums of money, I am getting paid to do something I love, which is more than I can say for most of my twenties.
Your feet quit hurting!
Publicist-turned-poet Yvonne Garrett attests, “sensible shoes no longer bum me out.” I hear you, sister! I have about ten pairs of stilettos in my closet. The last time I wore a pair was four years ago and I had to go home early because my feet hurt so bad. I’m not a Crocs-wearer now (NEVER!), but these days, my shoes have to feel as sassy as they look.
There’s always someone hotter, thinner and younger—yawn.
Painter Tracey St. Peter says one of the benefits of aging is that “you don’t have to give a crap about competing with other girls. It is so liberating and saves so much stress and time.” I agree. Liberating is a great word for it. That’s no reason to give up and swaddle yourself in novelty sweats and mom jeans, but learning to work with what you’ve got is certainly healthier than bogus “cleanses” and frantic trips to the dermatologist every time you spot a line.
Sex gets better—no, really!
One randy broad I spoke with informed me that “orgasms were always were great but got SO much better once I hit my thirties.” Maybe it’s because we know what works, maybe because we’re less afraid of putting a guy off by asking for it … who really cares why? I’m not going to look a gift orgasm in the mouth. Also, if you’ve had babies and experienced subsequent parental bed death, you can look forward to an empty nest, full of unspoiled surfaces once they leave. As Sherrill points out, “Sex is much better after the kids are out of the house.” (Flashback to hearing my parents doing it—eww!)
So while I’m still not thrilled to be turning mumblemumble, I’m not dreading it like I was. The fact that I’ll be poolside in Puerto Rico also makes it a lot less painful.