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Fast woman going down hill - news at 11

 There are certain things people say, meaning them as a joke, that piss me off quite a lot.

My nurse practicioner, who writes me a scrip for my precious, precious painkillers (yes, I am dependent; why do you ask?) every couple of months, said "happy birthday; how old are you?", which, while mildly dumb (since my age is on my chart), didn't piss me off, but then she said "almost 40!  It's all downhill from here!".

Excuse me?  My life is less than half over (assuming I live until I'm 80), and "it's all downhill from here"?  

Words cannot express how much that sentiment pisses me off, based as it is on the assumption that once a woman hits menopause, she's a dried-up old hag, useless for anything, and may as well off herself, since nothing good is ever going to happen ever again.

We are a youth-obsessed culture, of that there is no doubt.  All one has to do is watch TV and movies.  In fact, you don't even need to do that - go outside and see what the average person is wearing, and see how many older women you can see wearing the latest teenage fashion, whether it suits them or not.  There's so much fear associated with growing older - beauty ads scream about looking younger, weight loss ads scream about looking younger, and health is all about looking younger.  We all apparently want to live forever, but not if it means being all gross and wrinkly.

If you want to stay young forever, kill yourself now and pickle your remains, but please, stop assuming everyone wants to be young forever.  Some of us are okay with growing older.  Age brings experience, skills, and the wisdom to stop repeating the mistakes one made as a callow youth.  My writing is better (less emo-centric), my painting is better, my freaking embroidery and costuming skills are better (as my hall of shame doth immortalize).  I plan to be doing all of these things for years to come, and getting better and better at it.  Downhill?  Only if I'm out for a day of skiing in Colorado, my friend.

Even physically, there is no reason why 40 is some terrible number where everything starts breaking down - heck, I blew out one knee in my twenties, and I've had arm problems since my early thirties.  But I'm thinner than I was at nineteen, and I think I'm more attractive now, since I am happier than I've ever been.  I wouldn't be twenty again for anything.

(Well, if I was given vast riches and Bob, I'd consider it.  But it would be a tough choice.)

Getting older is wonderful.  Life's experiences have made me rich.  I have everything I've ever really wanted out of the SCA (except maybe being Queen, but that's not under my control), I have an amazing, irreplaceable husband, fantastic friends, respect, admiration, even a following on line.  I'd be unspeakably selfish to dismiss all of this as being "all downhill from here".  

It seems silly to me to fear getting older; my lack of fertility isn't an issue in this day and age (especially since women can now have kids almost as ridiculously late as men, and there's no reason to assume science won't be able to get 70 year olds pregnant in 20 years, just like they can get 60 year olds to spawn now), so the main issue of my "usefulness" is now moot.  I don't have to fade into the background in shame at my lack of sexual relevance, I can go on creating things until the day I die.

...And I plan to - though my LJ might have a few more "I forgot what I was going to write about, so here's a kitteh macro" posts.

Life is not a bell curve; there is no peak that we do not create ourselves.  Some people peak early, some late, and some steadily climb throughout.  Our biology is the last thing that should govern our success.

Besides, I've been told throughout my life that "after *insert age*, it's all downhill".  When I did Jenny Craig, I was told that after 25, it's suddenly harder to lose weight.  I've been told that after 30, I'm no longer cute.  After 35, I can't have kids without them being horribly brain-damaged.  It's all bullshit scare tactics to manipulate people.  Death is the only real roadblock, and even that might not be the end.

I left the doctor's office in a bad mood - pain and stupidity will do that to me - so I turned on the radio.  On comes an ad for BG&E's fuel program, which ensures that needy people have heat and light throughout the winter months.  They suggested you put a small donation in with your power bill.  Then the gentle female voice said "It's not a handout, and it's not charity; it's empowerment".  I swear, that's the inflection she used.

I bet someone at BG&E is laughing themselves sick over that one.

Comments

( 50 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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fearga
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:23 pm (UTC)
Sing it! I *love* my wrinkles. They're my library of living! They show that I've smiled thousands of times, thought long and hard, and gotten out more than a few good guffaws. I always thought of "life going downhill" as that wild feeling of being on a bike with no brakes, totally free and completely alive. So when someone tells me it's all downhill from here? I get a big grin on my face, and agree with them completely. :D
ornerie
Dec. 4th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
yay Fifi!

I have to say that turning 40 kinda sucked (I wasnt where anyone told me I was supposed to be, blah blah blah) but being over 40? rocks.

I'm now old enough that I can be eccentric. and I have the autonomy to support that :).

I'm healthier than I've been for a long long time, not to mention fitter than I've been since I was 20. god knows I eat better, drink less and dont sweat the small stuff as much.

I own my own home, have an awesome career where I make a difference in the world, and a very very full social life (some days a bit too full, but that's ok :)). I have music and art in my life and find that physical challenges are more easily overcome as I've learned HOW to teach myself new movements, etc.

downhill? is the opposite of uphill. easy coasting, baby.

wheee!
patrikia
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)
I once had a resident (fertility) doc make a snarky comment about my age, at which point I let fly with a tirade of epic proportions.

So put that one on my resume, please - I made a young male doctor CRY. Dude, don't make the woman hyped up on your fancy hormones drugs pissed off, 'kay?

(PS - he TOTALLY deserved it! and he'll never pull that one on another patient, ever.)
firehauke
Dec. 5th, 2007 02:36 am (UTC)
I love you - this made me giggle much.
vom_schwarzwald
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
Speaking from the other side of 40...I too hate it when people say that to me. Frankly, at least from how *I* am doing, they are full of it. :-)
pirategirleee
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
Two words (just for one example)
Sophia Loren. Bull Hockey that older women can't be beautiful and have full and fulfilling lives!
spikywheel
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Two words (just for one example)
Judy Dench. (72)

Nichole Kidman (40)

Halle Berry (41)

Twiggy (58) http://twiggylawson.co.uk/

Shall I go on?
Re: Two words (just for one example) - vom_schwarzwald - Dec. 4th, 2007 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
hazebrouck
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
I think medical people make jokes like that to isolate themselves from getting too emotional about every problem they see. They just forget that we might not see the humor. I get tired of being told my run away arthritis is due to age or contact sports. This is dumb because 1) I'm not THAT old and 2) my mother and sister avoided all exercise and had very similar problems. I think the assumptions of doctors blind them to other possible solutions. They take the obvious and go on to the next examining room.
corbaegirl
Dec. 4th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
My mother's arthritis first showed up when she was 17. Mine started in my early 20s. My daughter was told for years that she was too young to have arthritis, even when she told the Dr. her family history. Luckily, she stopped going to that idiot and was diagnosed a few years ago at age 23.

My take on age? I almost died in a car accident at age 31. Even though physically I haven't been doing well since then, I take every year since as a bonus. I turn 50 this year, and I have to say that my 40's have been so much better than my 20's, even with the physical problems.
hugh_mannity
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
I don't believe a word of it. I'm having far more fun now, in my late 50s than I was 10 or 20 years ago.

I deal with the world better (generally that is, I still have difficulty putting up with idiots!) I know myself better (though there's still lots to discover).

There are times I'd like more energy and not to have to deal with my mild but annoying health issues, but meh -- it's mostly good and far from being downhill.
molly_world
Dec. 4th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
Giggle...it's just old age making you cranky, hahahah
(PS...please don't hunt me down & kill me, grin)
attack_laurel
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
Uh huh... what's your address again? I want to send you a... Christmas card. Yeah, that's it. :P
(no subject) - lorebubeck - Dec. 4th, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
cathgrace
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC)
My darling husband has a beautiful body and on an almost weekly basis for the last 5 years people have asked him how old he is, when they hear the answer they without fail will say, "Oh....Just wait till you turn 30, it's all down hill from there." I have never been sure why people feel the need to say this, does it make them feel better about themselves? So anyway by their estimation this Feb 20 (his 30th birthday) we will need to have a wider pair of trousers ready for when he wakes up in the morning, because he will wake up fat and short, his healthy eating habits and active lifestyle will clearly become mute at that point.

Oh, and you would be an awesome queen! That would be a reign I would lurve to see.
luscious_purple
Dec. 5th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)
LOL ... somehow I can't imagine either you or your hubby ever becoming fat, never mind short! :-)
isabelladangelo
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
I think it happens to guys to a certain degree as well. Think of all the hair products and anti-aging/anti-balding/anti-greying ads aimed at them. "If you don't use our product, people will loose confidence in you and think you are too old to do anything!"

As to why 40, the magical age of 40 goes back to a time when you were a mere few years away from retirement. Now, of course, most people don't even think of retirement until they are well into their 50's or early 60's. Despite that we live longer, healthy, better lives than we did even 20 years ago, the magical age of 40 has still retained some of his "OMG!". However, in a few places, such as the Hallmark store, that is changing. I threated to get my Dad the over the hill card/you're 50 a few years back. :-)

The striving for a "youthful" appearance has been tried since humans began to take notes. We've almost always had some form of make-up, or other anti-aging remedy. And who can forget the whole Elizabeth Bathroy take on "anti-aging"; just use a school girls blood and you'll get lovely skin! Or maybe Empress Sissy who refused to wear make-up but had more skin care products than most people could count. The idea of youth as beauty is nothing new and will continue long after everyone who reads this is good and dead.
(Deleted comment)
damedini
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
*cheers*
maricelt
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
I just hit 40 and my life is so much better now. There is not enough money or power in the world to make me go back to being a teen or my twenties. My thirties were the first decade I "lived" and I'm expecting more grand adventures in my 40s.
eleanors_closet
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
I'm much happier at 42 than I was at 22. Age brings you wisdom, skills, and experiences that make the new experiences yet to come more valuable. Personally, I admire hands that "show age" in wrinkles or large knuckles, I don't know why.
attack_laurel
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
Well, mine are frikkin' gorgeous, then. :)

(I've had my hands described as "bony witch fingers". In jest, but yes, they are.)
fabricdragon
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
as someone whose ability to carry a child to term sucks, blew out my knees in my 20s, has blood sugar issues my whole life, various and random health problems my whole life. what the heck is the magic with the number 40?

besides, if my family track record holds true, i wont hit menopause for 12 more years.
elzregina
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
I'm 47 and blessed with good genes. I'm often told I look younger...and I am sure that there are days when I look older. Do I embrace growing old? Yes, and no. Yes, because of the wisdom and experience that comes with it, the joy of watching my child grow (now a teen), the continuing discoveries of creativity and new experiences, etc. Just plain ol' the joy living, seeing a sunrise, a sunset, the scent of candles, the sound of rustling leaves, of waves lapping at the shoreline...there is so much to wake up and enjoy yet another day, with many more to come.

But then there is the no part. I will fight "old age" every step of the way with good nutrition, hydration, exercise. I will make sure I take care of my skin so that it shows less signs of aging. I am not looking forward to the physical changes of the body when the mind is yet young. I will fight it every step of the way, and go down screaming!!! Am I trying to look like a 19 year old, 20 or even 30 year old? Absolutely not. I would look frickin' ridiculous. But I will take care of myself...it's only to my benefit.

Downhill?? Bah...it's all about lifestyle choices.
attack_laurel
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
My mother is in her 80s, wrinkled, silver-haired... and beautiful. Beauty comes in different forms, and a face that speaks of experience and love is very beautiful to me.
damedini
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
I am 40 and finally coming into my own. From 23 to 30 (my marriage) were essentially wasted as I was "on hold" and not becoming or anything but enduring. Now? I am gleefully becoming the person I was always meant to be.
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