Old and ugly

Something has been percolating in my brain for a while, but I couldn’t find the words to talk about it on a public forum until today. Perhaps I will find the words if I simply type them into the keyboard.

It began with a syndicated episode of The Big Bang Theory. I see the scene in front of me but I can’t find it when I google it. It’s not so much the scene that made an impression anyway, it’s the phrase.

This is how I remember it (paraphrased):

Penny is sitting on Sheldon and Leonard’s couch with some or all friends nearby. She makes a comment referencing something to do with beauty, passion or sex. She said:

We have to do this now, before we’re old and ugly.

I was bothered by this comment at the time, but only peripherally. Like the studio audience, I too chuckled because it’s such a mainstream thing to say out loud, isn’t it? Society attaches so much clout to youth as a way to measure beauty and sexual vitality.

The comment tugged at something within me but not so prominently that I reacted passionately toward it, at least not immediately. It’s just a sitcom, after all, and they write the lines to appease their target audience.

But here’s the thing:

They, the writers and creators of the show, think, believe even, that beauty is manifested in youth.

And, that youthful beauty, especially in women, is sexually attractive to (heterosexual) men of all ages.

And, that all women (should) attempt to attain – prolong – youthful-looking beauty at all cost no matter what.

When Penny made that comment, she blew a raspberry immediately after saying it. She dismissed the idea that older people could still be considered beautiful, and (gasp!) have sex. She implied old meant ugly, and who wants to have sex with someone who is ugly?

You see where this is going, right?

Like many women, I go through periods of low self-esteem. The body image, the weight fluctuations, the skin blemishes or wrinkles, the saggy skin with age, the lack of tone that we all had when we were 20…it’s part of what the beauty industry picks on.

We women, especially the over 50 crowd, seem to constantly want to fix some part of us.

Off to the beauty salon we go to colour our hair, or burn away the scars, or puff up the lips and breasts. On the way home, we stop at the drug store to pick up concealer, hair spray, lotions and a million other items to help us feel beautiful.

Back to Penny’s remark.

Whatever the context was in that episode, it drew home the point that in general, the public is still obsessed with youth and its relative implied beauty. It’s what we see, and what we want to see, is the message.

Is it?

Let’s turn this around for a moment.

While blogging over the years, I’ve never paid much attention to the demographics of who is following me, and more importantly, who is interacting with me and us here in the comments section. I seem to have attracted a diverse group of bloggers if all ages and cultures – I didn’t analyze the stats by gender or age.

But I did notice an influx of the over 50 crowd of women who blog. There are two types of 50+ women:

  • those who are (mostly) happily divorced/separated/single/dating
  • those who are (still)(mostly)(happily) married

These women are blogging about everything under the sun and it’s fabulous! I follow many of them, have mentioned some here, and you can see for yourself in some of my more actively commented posts who they are.

They have cool blog names too. 😍

One thing that seems to bind us together is the fierce support system that exists on our respective blogs. We talk about all the things that affect women today, including the “are we still beautiful and sexually desirable at our age” comment that jump-started this blog post. It’s no secret, to any of us and to the men who share our lives, that we constantly struggle: with body image, with weight fluctuations, with hair and skin dilemmas, with hormonal irritations…

And yes, we sometimes pick on the men, too…💙 😛

As you can see, the comment made by Penny hit a nerve, but didn’t really transform into all of these words until recently which is why I hurled ithem out into the blogsphere today. (Sorry-not-sorry) I must have picked up on it peripherally and stored in some deeply recessed cavity in my brain and let it fester…

But now it’s out.

And I’m ready to think about it more, with your input. Those of you who have read me for the past few years know I struggled with esteem issues as well. I’m better now than I was in my 40s. Honestly, I am enjoying my 50s way more than my 40s (reference point: I was still in the toddler trenches in my early 40s and then perimenopause hit and ugh…)

At the time, while chasing diapered humans, I felt old, probably also ugly, but I didn’t give a shit. I was too exhausted, struggling with house and relationship inadequacies to worry about beauty regimes. I think that was the time I became more of an introvert than I already was…

Now though, in my early 50s I take time to dress up at times, colour and style my hair, apply a bit of makeup… which then gets hidden behind a mask 🙄. I also lust over shoes and boots, wear jewelry, streak my hair…

Who am I doing this for?

It’s a tricky questions. Mostly I do it for me. But I admit it doesn’t bother me when I attract people’s attention as I walk by and I get a look or a smile, or an acknowledgement… It’s nice, you know?

Here’s the shift in perspective though:

It is obvious I’m not young.

Which is why Penny’s comment is so irksome.

Yes, people may look at young people for their obviously displayed youth as an attractive feature, but women in advanced years, they exude something beyond, in addition to, physical beauty: self-confidence, grace, wisdom, and often (not always) a “don’t give a fuck” attitude about trivial things.

They (we) exude life experience. 🎉 And that, my friends, is nothing to shake a (hockey) stick at. 🇨🇦🏒🇨🇦😉

And if they are bothered by trivial things? Well, some of them (me) go home and rant about it on their blog. 😂

So what do you think? Do you pick up comments like this and nitpick them to death like I do? Does this topic make you think, want to explore, or run off to the next beauty salon for a hair and facial treatment? Or do you just not care?

See you in the comments.

52 thoughts on “Old and ugly

  1. I always assumed that women enjoyed going through the hairdresser once or twice a month, that having a collection of nail paintings and color for their blinkers made them feel happy.
    Well, it seems like not all of them enjoy it.
    I am interested in reading your post, I learn a lot and it allows me to think again about some things.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just marked 37 years on this planet, and though I’ve been feeling old having two teens, I have the opposite issue of looking young for my age. People have always told me it’s advantageous, and I know it’s because of the whole unrealistic societal expectation for women to “keep themselves up”…I’d rather look my age so that people take me seriously at first glance, as opposed to assuming I’ve barely gotten off the bottle. I can tell how people’s attitudes change towards me INSTANTLY when I hint towards my age. Having two nearly adult children always throws people off and when I comment on certain pop cultural references during and before my time.

    I always wondered when I was being approached by men that showed interest in me if they were doing so because they assumed I was fresh out of college because I look it; mind you, these men were in my age range or older, so it also made me question if they intentionally set their sights on younger women…that’s a whole other blog post 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Two things: (1) I’m working on something about aging, and I will be sure to link to this article; (2) This is one reason I started the photos of women 35+ on Navigating the Change. I really want to reverse the myth that comes with aging.

    Maybe 3 things…I’m not 50 yet lol but I seem to also attract lots of 50+ women, including your fabulous self 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just don’t care. I am who I am, regardless of how society thinks I look. One of my favorite blog taglines from long ago was: Over 50 and Botox-free. That woman’s point of view has been my North Star.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ok. Sometimes trivial things really irk me. That’s why I have a blog…so I can dissect them ad infinitum….and you know how I feel about the old isn’t beautiful montage that we are constantly bombarded with

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Really enjoyed reading your blog post & also the wonderful comments. I was single again at 50 and experienced the invisibility many mention. One amusing example occurred when I was using a message forum attached to a dating site. I noticed that any time I expressed an opinion, a certain man shot me down, but when my younger friend expressed the same opinion, he was quick to agree with her. She tried an experiment using the exact same words as I had done, and still he repeated his behaviour. Simple reason – he wanted (to use a British phrase) to get into her knickers, but not into mine. He didn’t succeed, precisely for being so transparent 🙂

    I’m well into my 60s now & enjoying my life with Himself, my younger partner. I was never much bothered about age & looks when dating – it was always the brain & personality which mattered to me, as it was for him.

    Like

  7. First of all, I love Big Bang, however, Penny was saying this because she is young and has no perspective of aging. Meh, who cares? I am 57 and feel healthier mentally now more than any other time of my life. When I first became single and was very nervous about dating (I.e. sex), my therapist said that men could care less what I looked like (I was nervous about my weight). She said that they would be thrilled to have a nekkid, willing woman. She was right. I say live for you. I don’t paint my toes anymore. I went from pedicures every two weeks to nothing. I think they look better natural. I am thinking about going back to my natural color and see how much gray pops up. I can always color it again if I don’t like it. All this to say that we become more fabulous as we age and learn to stop worrying about others. Hooray! BTW, thanks for all the kind words about fellow bloggers. It warmed my tender heart. 😍🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I guarantee you that by the time you’re in your early sixties you will be so over all that. I have found over the years that women are the biggest critics of other women. I studied fashion design years ago and it was a known fact that most women buy clothes, shoes,purses, get their hair styled, paint their nails, wear jewelry, etc to impress other women. It is a competition at times. I learned a long time ago not to let the shallowness of other women, or other people for that matter, get in my head. Based on all the males I know, most men don’t get as hung up on aging the way women do. As far as comedy remarks go, I just laugh because I also laugh at all the crazy things my body has done to me over the years. That’s life.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Love this, and the train of thought. I do have things to add, but I think I’m going to marinate on the points you brought up instead. Really glad you explored the topic…I don’t think aging has ever gotten a fair rap in television/movies/media, with maybe the exception of the Golden Girls…lol

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Good post Writer of Words, A joke comes to mind and I don’t know who first said it, but something like “Youth is wasted on the young”. I think this is very true. The young do not know how to appreciate their youth and beauty and take it for granted that they will always have it.
    Granted I do not like the numbers in my birth age, but old and ugly I refuse to be. 😍❤

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Weighing as the guy not within the realm of the norm, when hormones hit me..I found myself attracted older teachers, movie stars and friends Mom’s more so than peers. When I was younger I dated girls a few years older, in my 30’s I dated women 10-15-20 years older. Yet despite my love for the aging woman, I married a woman 12 years my junior. She sought me out and we clicked, as she ages she gets even sexier to me ❤🤗😁

    Liked by 4 people

  12. The only appearance/body thing I don’t like about getting older, is how my body has changed. I don’t mind the wrinkles from decades of smiling, or the saggy boobs that fed two children… I don’t like the flat butt cuz it hurts to sit, my body just looks different than what I was used to.

    I stopped caring about how I look when Disability started in my early 30s. I did the cougar thing after my ex left, and it was fun, but I got bored with it.

    Physical attraction is important but I find I’m more attracted by self-confidence than exterior stuff. And if I ever DO date again, I’d want to date people with wisdom, and confidence… people like me.

    Let the youth-obsessed people have their thing, and I’ll just watch. And wait for a like-minded person to recognize the better quality of my experience, confidence, knowledge and silly zest for life.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Ageism in combination with sexism is such an overt thing in my opinion, once you really tune into it. I don’t have a firm hold on how much of a f**k I still give. Some things are immaterial to me anymore like the “grandma tummy” I’ve been rocking for some years now. I eat healthy, walk lots, but without targeted, intense work on that area it’s just who and what I am now and that’s okay. I feel better emotionally if I continue to cover my gray hair, but how much longer that will happen…who knows. I hate that we cannot feel good about ourselves as we age and are not respected enough by society and the values that push us to be more.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I focus on me mostly, too when it comes to things like covering the grey in my hair. No one ever told me I should colour it… But there is that implied nudge, I guess, from society, to continue to colour. I don’t know. I’m learning to let some of these things so and look up to all of you who are either also going through similar, or have already and can share your perspectives.

      Appreciate the feedback as usual, Deb.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. There’s an old song – “Keep young and beautiful” which includes the lines

    “Keep young and beautiful
    It’s your duty to be beautiful
    Keep young and beautiful
    If you want to be loved”

    Annie Lennox did a cover of it on her album Diva but from what I understand she did it in an ironic way as a kind of protest against the cult of youth and beauty. The song is clearly speaking to women.

    By the by, I looked up the album Diva and suddenly realized it’s nearly 30 years old – jeez, where did the time go?

    Liked by 4 people

  15. We are a youth dominated/oriented/targeted society for sure. This never bothers us when we’re young of course, the world is our oyster…. but when things start to sag/ grey/ spread? (Thanks menopause, you suck) The bag boys at the supermarket call you ma’am and ask if you need help out to your car. I don’t always recognize the 57 year old woman in the mirror, but I know she’s wiser and more fulfilled than her slimmer/tighter/perkier 20 year old self…. and you know what? That’s okay.
    👍

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes, agreed. The ma’am thing happens here in Canada too but I think to a lesser degree. But when someone calls me ma’am I stop for a minute and look around. Did they mean me? I’m old now?

      lol

      But I too want nothing to do with my former youth self. No thanks. I may still have some issues now but I’m much better equipped to handle them on my terms now than I was when I was young.

      Thank you for your comment! This is going to be a great thread, from the looks of it.

      Liked by 3 people

  16. I think it’s interesting how our idea of what constitutes old changes throughout life. I’m sure when I was 20 I thought being 40+ was old (and quite possible ugly). Now that I’m in my 40s, I’m wiser (?) and realize that old won’t be until my 60s, at which point old probably won’t be 80+. And unless we’re going cougar style and sleeping with youngins, chances are that whoever we hop into bed with will have a notion of what’s old that is in the same ballpark as our own.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s interesting you say this, because living with teenagers makes you feel your age even more. I mean, when I was a teen I thought 50 was old but really, when I interact with my teens now I think, um, I’m still relatively young because I learn along side with them at times. They teach me things I didn’t know or see when I was their age.

      I also noticed the 60+ crowd who is out there blogging their lives is living every moment fully. It’s almost like they’re freer now because the nest is empty(er) and they’re grabbing back their freedom they remember from youth but without the angst of youth. You know what I mean? There is no pressure to worry about biological clocks or all the other social pressures because we learned a few things since we were young(er) and inexperienced. And we live life on our terms (finally).

      As always nice to hear from you Ashley. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Age is indeed relative. I remember when I was 26 and divorced from my first husband. I was fixed up by a friend and insulted that she fixed me up with a guy who was 40. I considered him way too old! Now I have a son in his 40’s! Lol
      In college anyone over 30 was old. How shallow! Other cultures value older people. We have experience and wisdom. Age is just a number. And we are vital at any age. Beauty is dictated by youth. I’d rather see someone my age with lines than someone younger with a bad face lift. It’s natural to grow old. I pray I’m given that opportunity. And by the way, 60 is NOT old.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Great blog! I totally get how you feel. My 50’s were the most challenging decade ever. I felt invisible! Obviously, I wasn’t, but society made me feel that way. As a woman who spent the majority of my early life being noticed because I was considered somewhat attractive, I suddenly was made to feel irrelevant after 50. People had always wanted my opinion on all sorts of things. I assumed it was because I was intelligent and interesting. What I realized as an observer when I was in my 50’s, was that in a group setting, everyone now paid attention to those who were decades younger because they were more youthfully vibrant. It hit me then that society was telling women over 50 they were passé. My generation fought back, however. We learned that we were wiser, more confident and more experienced. And we were used to fighting for equality so we weren’t going to stay under the radar. But, physically I did feel=somewhat insecure. I kept comparing myself physically to women in their 20’s and 30’s, which was ridiculous. I liked myself. But I was hard on myself for aging naturally. And I looked pretty good for my age. So, By the time I hit 60 I realized that I looked pretty darn good, I felt great, and I was emotionally and intellectually the best I had ever been. And then I stopped comparing myself to young people.. They were the inadequate ones compared to women over 50. Not enough wisdom behind their ears. A perfect body doesn’t mean a thing if it houses an ignorant brain. Your 60’s will be even better. When I hit 70 I again worried about getting old. And then I got cancer. Now I just fight to live. And cherish every day. DONT WASTE VALUABLE TIME WORRYING ABOUT GROWING OLDER. cherish the gift of aging. So many Young people are shallow. Embrace yourself at every age. Women grow more independent, more open minded and more creative the older they get. Aren’t we lucky?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. So on point. Thank you Lesley for these words. We have to keep hammering this message out there, don’t we! And, more importantly, accept ourselves no matter what!

      This blog has done wonders for my self-esteem and my social life. 😛 And it’s comments like this that help validate the way I think and feel and write for the CORRECT reasons (not the superficial ones).

      Thank you for commenting, and reading, as always. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Wow, well-written and well-said! I’m a mix because I chose to become a single parent at age 46 and again at age 50 so I’m in the toddler trenches as you so aptly put it, in my 50’s. But your writing has caused me to name a fear that’s been percolating for a while – what if I tried to be attractive and no one noticed? And even worse, what if I tried and someone noticed and thought, “oh, she’s trying to look good but she’s old?”

    And you are also right, the fierce support system in this blogosphere and our age group should hopefully help us face those fears and be fiercely self-compassionate as we walk into the sexiness of our full power. Because now that I’ve gotten to this age, I understand that I shouldn’t have to play small to be in a relationship. Mind you, I haven’t actualized that yet but at least I’m starting to understand it… 🙂

    You go girl!! Thanks for helping us name this and being bold in your words and power as you find your way through!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh wow, thank you so much for saying these words. I wrote about this before and I will go back and pull this link for you in a bit, so check back here before (it was a different tone, but touching a bi ton this ‘am I invisible, am I attractive, am I still desirable’…

      And just so you know, I’m quite insecure. I may not sound that way with words, because I recognize that I write way better than I talk, but in real life, I tell you… it’s tough to be out there and confident all the time, Especially as I get older and my tolerance level for stupidity reduces significantly. 🙂

      You hang in there with your kidlets! I would have handled things differently now than I did 16 years ago but hindsight is a beautiful thing, right?

      Let me go check out your blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for such a lovely reply! I’d love to see that old blog as I’ve only been following you for a couple of months. I understand writing better than talking. But isn’t there an element of “fake it until we make it” that we can apply? The beauty of this long life is that we keep on getting to practice and somewhere along the line we will use that hindsight and realize how far we’ve come! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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