When I was pregnant with each of my sons, now 33 and 35, it seemed like everyone was pregnant. Everywhere I went women were waddling around and it seemed like the whole world was having a baby. Every magazine I picked up had an article telling me the best way to get through my pregnancy and all kinds of advice about how to raise these children when they arrived. There was advice for everything: breast feed don’t breast feed, stay home with your babies until they’re adults, send them to daycare on day 3. It was confusing and maddening and I finally realized that every pregnancy is different and we raise our children as best we can. We make lots of mistakes and hopefully, they grow up to be happy, thriving, independent adults. Now, I’m about to turn 70 and it seems like everyone is writing about turning 70. The articles are, again, telling those of us approaching this milestone how we should now live. Have a second career, retire, look like a million bucks, don’t give a sweet shit how you look. Once again, I will approach this decade as I have all the others, with lots of irreverence and gratitude and face it head on with an unbridled enthusiasm regardless of what the articles may say.
Recently, I saw an advertisement that said “Look younger longer.” Just how young and for how long would this look last? That ship has sailed. When I look in the mirror, I see a woman who has aged, a person with lots of wrinkles, and hair that has not been colored for close to 10 years. I still wear it long and as wild as I can. I start my day by putting all kinds of moisturizers on my face and my body, I put a small amount of makeup on every morning-no more eye makeup since it usually ends up on my cheeks after inadvertently rubbing my eyes. I always wear lipstick. In fact, I don’t go anywhere without it. My dear friend, Carlene, and I, decided years ago that it’s all in the lipstick. Somehow we believed if we were wearing lipstick, often bright red for me, we looked better and felt better and our confidence was a bit higher. Recently, when in an Uber, with a woman driver, I hopped in front and we chatted all the way to my destination. As I was getting out of the car, she said to me, “I love your lipstick. It’s so bold of you to wear red lipstick, maybe I’ll try that.” I skipped through my day.
Helen Mirren,73, when accepting an award in front of a group of women said, “Your 40’s are good. Your 50’s are great. Your 60’s are fabulous. And your 70’s are fucking awesome.” I am embracing who I am: wrinkles, grey hair and a body that I’m comfortable with. I have pride in the fact that I earned every wrinkle on my face, that I still jog, swim, bike and walk everywhere.
Gloria Steinem coined the phrase, “This is what 40 looks like.” She went on to repeat it every decade. I turn 70 in June and this is what 70 looks like. It’s not 60 or 50 or any other age than what it is. When I was 50, people often told me that I didn’t look 50. It even happened occasionally when I turned 60. These days, when someone asks me my age and I say 69, they simply say, “That’s nice.” I don’t need any more articles telling me what’s in store for me. I won’t look younger again, and yet I’m ready for whatever is in store for me this decade. and I look forward to the ride, red lipstick and all.
Stay in touch and I will too.
With love and gratitude