PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Stark truth on age-old problem

Peace Arch News columnist April Lewis discusses the joys - and pitfalls – of aging gracefully.

I can’t fake it any longer. Nor can I rationalize or pretend.

The truth is… I am no longer young.

I must face the fact that I am now three score and holding. That’s six decades to those of you who are counting.

Forgive me if I sound a little sensitive. I am still getting used to the reality of having turned the big six-oh last week.

Speaking of a milestone birthday, you might have seen the recent issue of Zoomer magazine featuring the resplendent Canadian songbird Jann Arden who has just turned 50. To celebrate a half century on this earth, she has bared it all. Lying prone in all her glory. In the buff. Yup, stark naked!

Voluptuousness is back in vogue. Excess body fat notwithstanding, Arden is proud of her body as her pulchritudinous plumpness defies the mere five-foot frame which supports it.

Frustrated by the way women’s body image is portrayed in the media, she wishes to make a point. She is giving the proverbial finger to those who would dare to criticize a body which looks, quite frankly, normal.

Normal women are marginalized, and Arden’s message is clear – love the body you’re in.

Easier said than done, Jann.

As social justice activist Judy Rebick laments, “Aging in a youth-obsessed society is a complicated matter.”

The reality is that women “of a certain age” become invisible. In a society that is youth-obsessed, we are inundated with solutions for staying forever young.

We are not allowed to get old.

The fountain of youth awaits us on monthly payments. Some plastic surgery, a poke of Botox or a shot of collagen, and we’re good to go.

We are not supposed to have wrinkles. A tummy tuck and breast implants will be the panacea for our fading beauty.

We are not given permission to age gracefully.

Did I mention there are 14.5 million Canadians over the age of 45? We now outnumber the youth.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled to be turning 60 and even more elated by the fact I can stand upright without a cane and can breathe without a mechanical aid.

I still have my own teeth and I have never had a hot flash. I can usually remember where I have mislaid my car keys and I can count backwards from 100.

I remember the names of my children, as well.

I enjoy good health, have family and friends who care about me and I  have financial security.

What more could I ask for? Well, perhaps an occasional wolf whistle would be nice. Or even a second glance. There was a time in my nubile youth when I couldn’t venture out on the streets of Europe without being regaled with a “Bella” or “Rubia.” Some would call that sexual harassment.

I call it a pleasant memory.

And if Zoomer magazine wants me for their next centerfold, I won’t be worried about my sagging skin and double chins or concerned about the crow’s feet around my eyes.

I shall bear… or should I say, bare… my age with pride.

After all, turning 60 beats the alternative.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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