There are many reasons why I love Twitter (the Awesome Women count alone is stupendous), but the ability to ‘over-hear’ conversations is right up there. Every now and again, you gain a glimpse into what folks really feel about themselves; sometimes directly, and sometimes it’s just seeping out, unspoken, from between those scant 140 characters.
It’s there where I overheard two extremely attractive (and I sensed a fair bit younger) ladies lamenting that their most ‘attractive’ years were drawing to a close; those good looks and damn fine bodies were starting to soften and, without a romantic partner in their lives, those attractions were ‘going to waste’.
I intervened, of course: these women are, if anything, at their peak of desirability, surely? The body still toned, the face still firm, but with the gilding of experience and confidence to make them women and not mere little girls.
And doesn’t a real man want a woman, not a little girl? They are still gorgeous; desirable. They and those fabulous bodies have had, are still having, fun. They could have ‘wasted’ those years in a crap relationship, with someone who didn’t appreciate them for who they really are; that would have been worse, no?
Still, I understand where they’re coming from. I read this on the Guardian’s Invisible Woman fashion blog;
“It’s a bit of a no-brainer really, isn’t it? Look around yourself on the train, in the coffee shop or canteen and count how many “celebrity magazines” you see – all peddling the impossible myth of eternally youthful chemically enhanced “beauty”. Look at almost any red carpet event and the subsequent reporting about who looks “tired”, who’s “struggling to contain her curves” and whose décolletage is not quite as perky as “they” think it should be. You wear gloves (Madonna) – it’s because your hands “give you away”. You wear a scarf (sensible in January) – it’s because your neck is “crepey”. No perma-tan? Then you’re emotionally and physically exhausted and your relationship is probably on the rocks as well.”
I’m watching the years make their steady progress across my face and my body, like everyone else. Sometimes I’m not sure if it has an additional level of mental discomfort for me; perhaps I am too vain, too subconsciously accustomed to and dependent upon the generosity of new folks who claim surprise at the advancement of my years. I am, however, much luckier than many, many others; I have a large LTR behind me, I do not hear a biological ticking clock, I have no-one who enquires with kindly yet perceptible impatience, “so, when are you going to settle down, then?”.
Despite this good fortune, I am still teetering on the edge of many a grey area; do I dress the age I sort-of look, or the age I genuinely am? Does my face ‘match’ my body? Is it a lie? Should I care?
I feel I can claim some triumphs with age, though. For one; with greater confidence, my posture is better. My body has changed, improved; a regaining of post-break-up weight, a tapering of my ribs, a clearer shoulder-line and waist; basically, more curves. My face has slimmed a little and, despite the many faults I could list, the wrinkles at least are still pretty fine. I still smile. I smile a lot.
Is this last blooming, this last fragile beauty of my late summer, being wasted through having no one to share it with, no-one to appreciate it, enjoy it, love it?
I could see it that way. I know I have spent a lot of time in the not-so distant past doing just such a thing.
But it ignores one crucial element. There IS someone here to appreciate it.
It’s even more important that I appreciate myself as, quite frankly, no-one else is here to do so.
I have very few folks to bear witness to my (in real) life, stuck here as I am, mostly house-bound through chronic ill health. Very few visiting friends (perhaps once every 3-6 months), no colleagues, no dates (that’s a long story, next time, my amigo), no family, just the occasional lunch with a female friend. I talk via Skype to a couple of friends but it tends to be via audio only; and I know for a fact that neither of them are invested in how attractive they find me…
So. Here’s the point.
If I do not think I am beautiful, and funny, and special, then who will?
If I do not look in the mirror, see beyond the faults, see the good heart shining through despite them all; who will?
If I do not love myself: who will?
And this is why I think I am grateful for the toll the years have taken upon me.
My attitude, my outlook, my attempts to grow and develop any compassion and kindness within me (I say attempts; I’m not so vain as to believe that I succeed!) means my ‘beauty’ (such as it is or was), while still perhaps remaining an acquired taste, is far deeper than it ever was. It grows day by day, as I try to be a better person.
And this is the gift, the blessing given in exchange for my youth: I am a more ‘beautiful’ person to be around. A calmer, wiser, more secure soul.
(Generally: you know, I’m not a freakin’ saint, right??)
Just because I cannot pass for 20 doesn’t mean I’m no longer ‘beautiful’; it has merely changed, grown, evolved into something more. Something different. A different kind of beauty, I hope.
Of course, I am sitting atop a high-horse on all this; as I say, I’m extremely lucky. I’ve read the OKCupid statistics on how men my age will still look at and message girls half ‘our’ age more than they will their own contemporaries and, while I can ‘go cougar’ to obtain short-term sexual thrills (and yeah, I’ve had offers), that’s not quite what I’m after.
(Sidebar: up to 9 years younger than me, then hell yeah. If an impossibly kind, intelligent and beautiful young man wants to persuade me, hot damn, then go ahead, sport )
But yeah. Even if no-one can see you nor hear you, nor validate nor endorse you: fuck it. Appreciate how rocking your body is, how your own eyes glitter in the sun and the snow, how much you love those who do come across your path, and just how bloody hilarious you damn well are. I do. I have to.
It’s not a waste if someone appreciates it. Why not make that lucky person be you?
Thimbelina blogs here (where this post first appeared) – a site which was conceived to house her occasional thoughts about sewing and CFS/ME, but which has subsequently collapsed into the incoherent chaos about life, love and relationships that it is today. She also hands out hugs and cups of tea to complete strangers via Twitter here, as restraining orders have yet to be invented for the Virtual World she almost entirely inhabits.