Yesterday morning I read an article by one of my Medium peeps about how there is nothing that says you’re old like a grey pube.
When I was able to get my laughter under control I tagged it, knowing I’d come back to it later.
Let me put this in perspective: this person is about seventeen years younger than I am. I’m nearly 67.
Tomorrow I head out to Ethiopia for three weeks. I’ll be hiking, riding horses, exploring Coptic Churches, and in all ways pushing my boundaries.
Most of the pubes I have are grey. In fact, it’s full-time Christmas season down there. Some folks get them young, which is one way to claim you have distinguished genitals, but I digress.
I’m not making fun of her. This is what we do.
I could give less of a flying shit about grey pubic hair.
It’s a lost cause.
Don’t like ‘em? Pluck ’em. Until that becomes so painful you have only two other choices:
- Brown Betty.
- Get over it already.
Because, and here’s The Great Big Secret to Aging:
The one thing guaranteed to age you faster than any other thing in the world is
OBSESSING ABOUT AGING.
OMG I have a grey pube. OMG I have a wrinkle. OMG…well you get the picture.
In this article from The Washington Post, writer Danielle Paquette interviews women who are well past the point where a single grey pubic hair is likely to incite riot.
From her article:
For the December issue of Vanity Fair, the British author Zadie Smith completed a Proust Questionnaire, which asked: What do you dislike most about your appearance?
“I like it all,” replied Smith, 41. “Self-hatred is for younger, prettier women.”
I can only speak from my own perspective, but this has the ring of authenticity. While I most certainly understand, and have been through those very phases myself, the fact is that the farther I inch into my later years, the less of a flying fuck I give about the signs that I am aging.
They are in every way gifts. Gifts that prove that have I survived some pretty shitty events in life which are, unfortunately, one of the prices girls, especially pretty ones, pay for being female and attractive. They are also proof that I have earned a certain amount of knowledge by virtue of having been around a while.
Now whether that knowledge ripens into wisdom is another thing entirely. Because as I constantly see on websites for which I write and which are focused on aging women past fifty and sixty, women still obsess about their looks, their hair, their bodies.
Wasting precious life worrying over the inevitable, while precious life and time speed through their fingers like so much water.
The Medium writer in question wrote about how when she steps out of the shower she sees her sun-damaged skin, saggy boobs and grey pubes.
Well, yeah. Most of us as we approach fifty do indeed see these things. What ages us is hating ourselves for them. As if there were another route, another option whereby we could avoid such things.
This isn’t criticism. We all do it (my hand is way up, well, halfway, largely because I had rotator cuff surgery on my shoulder, from riding horses in Kazakhstan, which is what I choose to do rather than obsess about my age).
I have the utmost empathy for this writer, for she bemoans the loss of her lovely young skin (don’t we all, including men?) and the fact that as a young woman she drew plenty of appreciative attention. Not always wanted, but that’s the price youth/beauty pays for youth/beauty.
Sometimes it’s very steep. I’ve paid that price myself.
Obsessing about the inevitable signs of aging virtually guarantees bitterness, resentment, self-hate and revulsion.
And lots more grey pubes, far more worry lines as well as no peace of mind whatsoever.
Now then. That’s a nice basket to carry into your later years. Being pissed off about the inevitable, when life as a young (er) person invites you in every direction to do what only young people can do, which is enjoy their perfect skin, smooth thighs and natural hair color. But we don’t do that. Starting young, now at around our late teens, we in America obsess about our age. If that isn’t a thief of youth I have a hard time figuring out what is.
The potential, but not-so-guaranteed transition from having knowledge to having wisdom in part has to do with simply letting go of that which must pass us into our later years. Being deeply grateful that we’ve even made it this far. That we are (largely) intact, and that nearly all research shows that changing bad habits (to which a admits) can reverse many of those trends.
Not age itself but many of its effects. That’s in our hands, when we can let go of our gorilla grip of griping about signs of aging.
It isn’t just that we live in a youth-obsessed society, which we do. That billions upon billions of corporate dollars and jobs depend upon our obsession with youth is only part of the problem. It’s also a rite of passage. Most younger people, men included, worry about losing vigor, beauty and their relative attractiveness.
A few years back, the then-BF said precisely the same thing.
OMG I found a grey pube!
You’d think the man had just been diagnosed with cancer of the scrotum. This is a guy whose near-perfect skin belies his age (he’s 50), but that doesn’t stop him from dying his hair (so do I, this isn’t a slam) or lying about his age on Match.com (I don’t; this IS a slam). He could pass for 38, which was his age when I met him. Instead, he lies, and he obsesses about something that is monumentally trivial. And posts photos that are at least twelve years old.
That particular BF had no life. All he did was work and work out. On occasion, perhaps go out for dinner. Beyond that, in all the years I knew him, all he did was work. That’ll age you fast, too. He was so addicted to work he hardly had time to take care of his beloved bulldog, whose nails grew so long she couldn’t walk.
That’s not living. That’s slavery.
Just as obsessing about youth is a form a slavery. Because as long as we worry- particularly about what we can’t control (age), we are in prison.
It’s part of why we say that youth is wasted on the young.
Because by the time we realize what we’ve lost, it’s gone, and at that point, a kind of quiet calm sets in about what we have left. Much less time, during which it might make a lot of sense to be concerned about filling that time with something worthwhile.
As in, not being so damned concerned about the appearances of age.
There are indeed many things which are negotiable. Those demand that we eat well, move a lot, find ways to love who and what we are, and to find a purpose that isn’t primarily rooted in our looks and longing for what will never be ours again.
That’s freedom. Many women past fifty embrace this like a long-lost friend. Because it is. It’s always been available, but we don’t happen to seek her out when we are consumed by our looks, our physicality and whether or not we can garner glances of appreciation.
This isn’t a slam. Not at all. I’ve been there too, and wasted far too much time. Part of me is well aware that there is nothing I can say which is going to assuage the terrible fears that single grey pube can garner.
Kindly, they’ll have lots of company soon enough.
Might as well make it a party.