It’s been quite nice to turn on my computer and have the pleasure of not being bombarded with insults from men on Match.com. I shut down my membership a long time ago.
Honestly, other than having my Facebook thread invaded by trolls, I honestly didn’t realize how much annoyance Match.com had caused.
This morning after I did my dizzy camel act (which rates as an hour of kickboxing for the uninitiated) I wrote a passionate article about body image for athletes. In a society that has unfair standards for women, unrelenting expectations for the female form, I am increasingly angry when I read stories about elite female athletes who feel deeply ashamed that their physiques, honed to perfection for their sports, don’t fit perfectly into a size 2 in a boutique dressing room. For example, elite climbers are going to have powerful backs, wide lats, and intense guns. This is hard to fit into a gown, which is made for a scarecrow. She may have the hips, but her upper body is a size 10–12, and pure muscle. There is no call to be ashamed of this. But this is our society.
To be fair, it is just as high-pressured for men. Articles in Outside Magazine quote elite runners, men in their fifties, who are extraordinarily successful but hate their bodies. Their elite athlete bodies. This is our society.
Angry Oldie Arrows
The reason this brought up Match.com was that a while back one Angry Oldie fired a shot across my bow. He was in his late sixties, fat, a drinker, ultra conservative. An unfortunate stereotype, in other words. Loved sitting around watching TV shows, having a beer.
Among a number of other pointed, choice comments, he pointed out that I had wrinkles. This was his way of taking me down a peg. He didn’t appreciate that I wasn’t interested in his age group (it goes without saying we had nothing whatsoever in common).
He had intended to do the greatest possible harm by pointing out that I no longer had a young, perfect face.
OF COURSE I HAVE WRINKLES.
My somewhat sanitized response follows:
“Of course I have wrinkles, you moron.
“I’m sixty-four years old. My wrinkles are carved from climbing Kilimanjaro and the Everest Base Camp….. while you guzzled beer on a stool at the corner bar.
“My wrinkles were developed from squinting into sun-splashed waves on the icy waters of northern Iceland while kayaking the fjords….. while you jammed your hand into bags of greasy Doritos and watched reruns of Criminal Minds on Ion TV.
“My wrinkles were deepened screaming for joy while riding a wild black Arabian stallion through the dunes in Hurgadah, Egypt, while the sun painted purple on the distant mountains….while you snored into your four-day-old beard on the couch, your noggin nestled into a cushion scented with stale beer farts.
“These wrinkles were etched while exploring the deep, dense Amazon rainforests, staring back at the anteaters and sloths….while your face has become blotchy with beer and booze and bitterness.
“Of course I have wrinkles, you moron.”
You wonder why I am so glad to be off Match.com.
I love my wrinkles.
I love my wrinkles. I have earned my wrinkles. I have grown into my face and my being. Each year I etch a few more into my face- the price I pay for throwing myself out of airplanes, off bridges, scuba diving, paragliding, climbing huge mountains. Oh I dunno. What every other 65-year-old woman does with her life.
As Jim Rome says -with good reason- “Have a take but don’t suck.” Trolls suck. Largely because they seem to feel it appropriate to take out the anger they have about the failings of their own lives on others.
“You have wrinkles.” Oh, for crying out loud. Look in the mirror, Billy Bob.
God help me that I ever become so shallow that I care more about my wrinkles than the quality of my character.
Just to put it another way, would we attack the venerable, beautiful, remarkable Dr. Jane Goodall, 83, for having wrinkles?
And if not, then, how is it appropriate for us to go after anyone else for the crime of getting older, which is inevitable for every living being on the planet?
Shame on Our Shallowness
A society or any particular person who shames a woman for her wrinkles should be shamed right back for their shallowness.
Many years ago the international diamond company DeBeers ran an ad that implied that you were losing your feminine attractiveness the moment the first laugh lines appeared. A husband has bought his wife a diamond ring. However, the ad copy said, in effect, “I still love you even though you now have crow’s feet.” What an appalling, selfish, patronizing message.
So, what now? Should I have watched my ex-boyfriend, who was sixteen years younger, for signs of aging? Do I dump a guy the moment he sports deeper laugh lines? I start shaming him for closing in on fifty? How would men feel if this were the standard by which the women they loved gauged their value? Precisely.
Let’s Attack Ben Affleck for Having a Dad Bod
Here’s how that looks when a major media outlet goes after a very public male figure who is aging- apparently without our permission: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-appearances/the-great-sadness-of-ben-affleck. While the writer reflects on a number of facets of Affleck’s life, it seems she saved the greatest insult for his appearance. He’s fat. He’s gone to pot. He has to cover his belly with a towel at the beach. Implication: how dare you get older. Usually this kind of disapproval is reserved for aging women. It’s just as ugly and vicious and unfair.
Nobody criticizes the magnificent Morgan Freeman for his aging face. If anything, the older he gets, the more dignity he has. In fact, it is that very chiseling that speaks to how we have earned our place in the world. An unlined face is a face that hasn’t laughed enough. Lived enough. Suffered enough. Those are the prices we pay for a well-lived life.
Come on Down
Folks ought to come on one of my adventures sometime. They’ll come home with a new wrinkle or two. Chances are that they won’t care one whit about that. They’ll be far too busy telling everyone their epic stories.
My wrinkles tell my stories. I’d rather have that than the Botox-bloated, abnormally inexpressive faces of aging stars who don’t have the dignity to age like the rest of us. They look like the walking dead.
What a society we live in wherein too many of us care more about looking perfect than living a remarkable life.
In my vernacular, that’s called “prison.” It’s a great way to sell surgery, skin products, ab machines, diet products and false hope.
Or, you can head outside and have yourself a right marvelous adventure. But careful…hours of grinning broadly causes wrinkles.