Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ageing Gracefully.

How does one age gracefully? Especially women! I’m sure a large percent of the women population of today, who are in my stage of life are being bogged down with this very question.

Born of an age when industrialization and automation were catching up, when people were realizing the cons of population explosion, especially in third world countries, people had understood the positives of  “Hum Do Hamaare Do” through family planning so they have a better life style and raise better kids,  when women were increasingly becoming part of the Indian work force (my mom being one who made a career in the aeronautical industry), when a girl child was no longer being considered a liability ( although, this still holds true in some areas), I feel nice to be born to parents whose priorities were to raise an independent girl child with self esteem, who would be able to stand on her own feet, and make her own decisions. 

That’s a big percentage of the women population that I’m talking about, and for most of, the biggest question they are dealing today, is, how to age gracefully. Their bodies are already getting there but mentally, they haven’t aged a bit. They have been so busy with making a home that when they paused to take a breath, they realized, they aren’t among the youth anymore! This is something we all women will face eventually,

The days when we felt invincible and immortal in terms of our beauty, seems a thing of the past. The days, we gave a damn about the sun or dust to protect our beauty, a thing of the past. The days, when we could hog on fried stuff and still manage to burn the extra calories thanks to the magical  metabolism we possessed, seem lost. The days, when our bodies would automatically want to bounce around, disappeared. When we could take care of the extra cholesterol and saturated fats in a jiffy, gone! The days when retaining muscle, with just a little effort, evaporated!

Now getting a mammogram has taken priority, not that I’ve got one.  Currently, doctors prescribe that every women past 35 needs to get one done. Which means I need to get it soon. Physicals every year have become essential too. Cannot afford to ignore!  Dental check ups for our tooth, that once helped me effortlessly chew off sugar cane..have become I can preserve my jaw line longer..right!  My worst night mare is to be wearing dentures and they fall off at the oddest moment!

The need to provide my skin with extra moisturizer has become crucial. Creams that promise a skin that is 10 years younger, on the very first application, if I am ready to shell out ugly amounts of dollars…have become compelling to consider. Crows feet,puffy eyes, wrinkles are some vocabulary that’s becoming a part of our lives now. The very looks that made us feel good of ourselves once, has began to taunt us. Words like Botox and Botulism…are getting familiar. Personally, I would prefer to show those fine lines I’ve earned over the years, than to go through this, nevertheless, the knowledge has been gained. Fillers and concealments  would work just as fine!!

Most of us are also battling the after effects of child birth. We are dealing with that ugly waistline which once was beautiful enough to be displayed, now, being concealed so we can share those zebra marks of childbirth just between the mirror and us..Basically, our bodies that used to make us feel good about ourselves once upon a time, has become the very tool to bring us to depression. It have become something that is  “for our eyes only”. Not even the Hubby gets a peek at it. 

How can I forget to mention the graying hair. Once upon a time…I, used to apply henna to condition my hair,  when I felt like.  Today, its become a fundamental part of my grooming, so, I can hide the gray in my hair. How about the part where its getting more difficult to sneak in time to apply it, with the growing needs of family life taking over? Growing old for a women is not as simple as in the case of men.

I see how proudly my husband displays his salt and pepper pass of a look that is considered “distinguished” compared to the look of a “new boy on the street”…To him, its not something he needs to color. And many of us are also dealing with an impending menopause and its symptoms. Growing old is much more complicated and cruel on a woman than a man. 

Even as I deal with all these, I realize that we have now entered an era where the 40’s are being considered as the new 30’s..and the kids, on the other hand, are attaining puberty as early as 7-9 years.  (Puberty..being another issue for me to deal with in another blog).

So, isn’t..age, just a state of mind? Just a number to most of us? A number that doesn’t match up with the mind. ((Yeh..sure, I feel so young in my mind, when my back is taking a break from the pain and my ears go deaf to the sound of my creaking knees!!  Even the  joints in the body come together in this effort, to let me know..WE EXIST and WE HURT and WE GET STIFF  too!!)) 

Physical ageing is just one facet of this whole process..something that we cannot escape but ..accept. This is where the Emotional ageing comes into picture.. This is that ONE saving grace of this whole process. It is this facet of ageing that brings back the beauty that in the physical sense is considered, getting lost.

Its this emotional wisdom, of the women, that makes her accept her age in her mind.  In my GNO blog, I had mentioned that we girls always celebrate sweet 16’s..but, if I were to choose an age that I wouldn’t want to age after...I would prefer to remain 30 all my life. There is a beauty in a women of 30 that one doesn’t achieve at 16 or even the early 20s,..that’s the emotional beauty. 

To me, a women’s beauty peaks when she hits her early 30’s.  Its around this time, that she is concentrating on the beauty of her mind too.  She’s getting emotionally mature and has come a long way from the impulsive behavior she used to exhibit in her younger years.  Now she’s able to understand the wisdom of this !

Calvin: Sometimes when I’m talking, my words can’t keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we think faster than we can speak.
Hobbes: Probably so we can think twice.

This wisdom along with her physical beauty makes her glow.  She looks much more beautiful than, when she was younger. Even her body slows down, unlike its peppy self of her teens and 20s adding grace to her as she walks.  This dignity accentuates her sex appeal. I’ve seen young girls wearing saris, usually very fidgety with their jewelry and their pallu. Lacking confidence. But see the same on a 30+ year old women, who has maintained herself well..there is a charm on the older women. There is nothing more alluring than an older woman who embraces her sexuality, while still remaining dignified.

Its by this age, that most women are married, some already with kids..They’ve experienced womanhood from all sides,  since, most of our biological clocks are ticking, right?!!! (although I wonder if that statement from “My Cousin Vinny” holds true nowadays as most successful women are having their babies in their late thirties  and even early forties).

They’ve been loved, most have experienced motherhood..some of them have lost one or both their parents. They’ve known hurt, they’ve worked at creating a home..raising children..Most of them are juggling between work and family. All this experience and knowledge shows on her face through their confidence, through her gait, in her stride. All the love from her kids, her husband, her extended family..makes her forget and look away from her despairing physical self. 

She is careful in making frivolous statements..such as I just want to experience love, travel and see the world..then, I can die”. Now, she might be a mother, a wife, she understands her responsibility, so, she doesn’t engage in such flit talk. She’s spent years in adjusting with her hubby’s family and learnt the positives of, and knacks of adjusting and accepting the differences among people.

So sure,  maybe I’ll have to deal with my hair or my bad back, or my stiff joints, much more than I did earlier, much more than my husband needs to, maybe, I’m not the type who is ready for a short hair help me cut years from my face, but my emotional maturity and the love of my family along with good diet and exercise, (which is better said than done),  is going to be my recipe of embracing aging that’s actually going to keep me young forever!!

What do you see as your recipe to embrace aging with dignity and grace?!


Venky (வெங்கி) said...

Ageless body and boundless mind is the ultimate one can aim for. No specific recipe other than eat, talk, play and sleep.

Rachna said...

My recipe is act your age -- in thoughts and deeds. The more we run after something, which can not be held back, the more stressed we are. Wear what you can carry off, eat what your system supports and keeps you healthy, and most importantly do what you want and not what anyone else expects from you. After the philosophy bit :), you are right about the angst of ageing hitting women more than men. Women are seen as more the more beautiful sex, so that is natural. Plus, the movies, models, magazines heap unrealistic expectations on us. Try to remember what our moms looked like at our age, and you'd see that we are much more conscious and better maintained :).