I came across this personal account of aging while browsing the internet. It struck me as so lovely and positive and apropos of yesterday’s post, that I wanted to share it. Here is Margaret Morganroth Gullette speaking from the Our Bodies Ourselves website:
[I]n the shower one morning I made a discovery. As I was twisting to look back down my side, the curves of hip, buttock, thigh, calf, and ankle came into view — startlingly elegant, powerful, and voluptuous…
When friends complain about their bodily “aging,” offering a sorry list of what they don’t like about their skin, their weight, their hair color, or their muscle tone, my new insight suggests not falling into masochistic empathy. Rather than say, “Yes, I hate mine too,” we need to ask, “Isn’t that product placement speaking?” or “If the perfection industries didn’t make billions on constructing our misery, would we be worrying so much about our hair, our abs, our waists?” Why reinforce women’s supposed ugliness in the guise of friendship? Why provide personalized commercials for the commerce in aging?
Sarah Haskins explains it with humour:
And Margaret’s advice:
Focusing instead on what we learn to find lovely, in time we could praise the whole body-mind — its spirit, character, charm, responsiveness. What a taunt to the relentless American cult of youth. It feels good.
When I was 17, I read Our Bodies Ourselves for the first time, gripped and enlightened by the kind but explicit language and diagrams. I was young then, but I felt old, having lived too much, and felt ugly, having been told lies. A minicomputer cost about $40,000 and there was no internet.
Now I’m rather older and here we are online, talking to each other around the world. I don’t much feel my age–whatever it ought to mean to feel it. Instead, I feel a bit like Mork and Mindy’s offspring who was aging backward. I like my body a lot more than I did at 17. To be honest I’m rather fond of it, and hope to hang onto it in good condition as long as possible. So I think I’ll take Margaret’s advice and have an appreciative look at it in the shower, for, like flowers, bodies respond to some attention and gentle praise.