A friend of mine messaged me this morning with a tearful note saying she was feeling really down because not only was it cold and wet outside, but she was also getting old, fat and ugly.
I pictured her exactly how I remembered her, or at least what her latest facebook photos looked like, I then looked at myself in the mirror and there was no getting away from it, slowly but surely we were both getting old, fat and ugly. I then thought of my other vintage friends, and they too fell into the progressively old, fat and ugly category. All except one, of course, there is always one, isn’t there, the skinny bitch who has kept the same dress size since her own graduation to her kids’ one. Still, karma has burrowed itself deeply into her face of late, so all is good.
I surprise myself to discover that I think of all of them with nothing but fondness and and odd sense of collective womanly pride. I have never been very sisterhood-inclined in my younger days. When the majority of these women first became part of my life, cold war was still very much on, and Thriller was still to be released. Over the years I watched these women achieve amazing personal, professional and creative goals. I watched them, from a safe distance, give birth to an impressive number of children, I watched them as they travelled the world, swam in oceans, climbed mountains and cycled in a desert. They delivered babies, and they pronounced people dead for a living, they wrote books and rode horses. Watching them do all this made me feel inadequate, insignificant and not measuring up. I came very close to feeling a fat old ugly failure long before my time.
Fortunately, I had a young family to look after, eight loads of washing a week to do, a 7.46 to catch every morning, an Easter bonnet to decorate by Friday and a summer holiday to book, all of which did not leave me too much time for existential crisis.
I know now that my self-doubt was not only premature, it was also laughable. Now that middle age is firmly established, my family no longer so young as to need my constant attention, I could quite easily squeeze in a wobble, and stress about my fat old and ugly self. Except, I really cannot be bothered any more. I never thought the moment will come, but it has, I really don’t care. Instead I am beginning to see myself and all my friends born in the third quarter of the twentieth century as increasingly powerful and beautiful, strengthened by decades of looking after their families and building their careers, more invincible with every passing year, capable of anything, awesome.
Certain things always improve with age, at least as far as women go, please do not get me started on old men, I want to keep this upbeat. Older women often develop an amazing sense of humour, their wit sharpens, Alzheimer’s permitting, and they open themselves up to the idea of making peace with themselves, with each other, with most of the universe, with the exception of, let’s keep this real, their next door neighbour.
By their fifth decade majority of women are finally ready to talk about their, dwindling by now, periods with other women without inhibition. Masks begin to drop, or are left forgotten on bedside tables next to false teeth. Ha! Tricked you, we are still a decade away from false teeth, it’s still fake lashes for now.
Dear friend who messaged me this morning, look what you have done. You got me into one of my rants, which cannot be good for my blood pressure. I hope you feel better now, because you are gorgeously strong and totally beautiful. As well as old fat and ugly.