Age is so relative. If it’s good furniture, old age is good. In fruit, young is usually pretty good. In some parts of the world people grow old very quickly. Bodies wear out due to hard work, frequent childbirth, harsh climate, poverty and the lack of meaningful work. In other parts of the world, people become old and decay due to overindulgence. Unhealthy and excessive food, lack of exercise and activity, drugs and the general neglect of one’s own body can lead to it growing old before its time.
On the other hand, some people see to stay young forever. This seems to be what we’re supposed to want. The cosmetics, exercise and lifestyle advice are so often geared towards helping people (and especially women) to stay looking young for as long as possible. Some even resort to cosmetic surgery, where the skin and sometimes underlying muscles and bone are manipulated to give the illusion of youthfulness. Or the skin is injected with fillers, intended to wind back the clock. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the people who do this, I’m just thinking that it’s not for me. No way.
Yesterday I spent some time with a wonderful group of ladies. They were radiant, funny and loving, and they all had wrinkles. I talked to them about some of my life experiences, and they shared some of theirs. It was an amazing life-affirming time for me, feeling the sisterhood and compassion that can flow between women who are strong and confident and who trust each other. I was so honoured to be included in their gathering, invited into their circle.
We talked about the Tyranny of Beauty, and about how we’re supposed to want to be in one way or anther. About the blogs that are unhealthy influences on young women, teaching superficial values and self-loathing. But there are alternatives. I told them about Cycle Harmony, about our supportive online community, and that there are others like it. Talking about this, I suggested, might be the best way to deal with unhealthy ideals. Let’s just not give them the energy, let’s focus on the good stuff that’s happening instead.
I walked away from out meeting, filled with enthusiasm and hope for our young sisters. There are mothers, grandmothers and other crones out there willing to give their love and compassion. There are great everyday examples of how to just be yourself, showing you how to not be swept away in the torrent of advertising and reality shows. The most profound impression that I took away with me was the sense of being included, accepted, embraced as a sister. For who I am and for who I will be.
So I’ve got some new role models. These women were vibrant, exuberant and finny. They were bawdy and clever, intellectual and practical, still looking to learn new things. Way to go, sisters! I’m looking forward to following in their footsteps and growing older, to living my life, to exploring all its facets and limits and being me. Age is a good thing.
Vild Prestegard is an anthropologist, holistic therapist, Reiki master and public speaker based in Norway. She is a regular blogger for Cycle Harmony. You’re welcome to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments.