Is it a Southern thing that women pick each other apart? Or is it one of those things that is inherent to females, regardless of their age, culture or position in society?
I remember growing up hearing women talk about how other women weren’t “acting their age” and were wearing their hair “way too young.”
Doesn’t she know she is too old to wear that outfit? Doesn’t she know she is too old to fix her hair like that? Doesn’t she know she needs to act her age? Oh my!
“Oh my” indeed! But not, “Oh my! That woman needs to figure a few things out.” More like, “Oh my! Why are we so hard on each other?!”
Now, we have “cougars” who are over the age of 35 and on the prowl for young men on which to prey. Who are these self-assured, glamour girls who obviously never heard the same preachings I heard? They are out sporting their low-rise jeans, diva heels, fake eyelashes/boobs/lips, Botox injections and more in the pursuit of attention and fun at an age when they are in the range of being that woman who “should know better.”
Perhaps the same rules don’t apply anymore. Maybe we have reached an age where the nursing homes are going to be filled with tattooed, Botoxed, former cougars who are tearing each other apart for not trying to look younger rather than the other way around.
*Sigh.* I think I’ve reached a crossroads.
I’m not a cougar, although at 36 years old and as someone who has a love of younger men, I certainly qualify. However, I’m happily married and not interested in prowling the social scene.
I’m not one of the young crowd who runs the roads freely, spends money like there is no tomorrow and wants a furiously fast car. I have a job, two kids, a budget and a Suburban.
And I love those things.
But I still also love going out, getting tattoos, having offbeat highlights in my hair, laughing with my girlfriends and using the V8 and the lead foot I have been cursedly blessed with to leave the younguns sitting at the redlight wondering how the tubby mama in the land ark beat them.
I’m not really in that older group just yet, but I’m right there on the edge looking back at the younger crowd and ahead at the older crowd and wondering where I fit in.
Do I hold to the old ideas I grew up with that say at a certain age you cut your hair shorter and stop worrying about makeup every day? Do I hold onto that younger me who loves high heels, lipstick and funky highlights?
I can’t decide.
Last weekend I had extensions put in my hair for a wedding I was in, and I felt so ridiculous about the whole thing. When I looked in the mirror, I loved what I saw. I felt younger, happier and smilier. I felt energized, and I liked it.
So why did I feel so stupid? Because all those voices from my childhood were ringing in the back of my head saying, “Does she think we don’t know those are extensions? Is she trying to look younger? What must her husband think? How embarassing for her!”
Ultimately, I ignored the voices and traipsed proudly down that aisle with my fake hair blowing in the wind.
It was fabulous.
I was proud of the way I looked. If I could get my hair to look like that on its own, I would do it in a heartbeat and ignore all the voices telling me it’s time for shorter, Mommyish hair.
As I stand at my crossroads, I have to make a choice about which path I will take. Will I be one of those people who clings to youth like a life jacket and refuses to “act my age” or will I be the person who lets the gray shine through and ages gracefully?
For now, my choice is to go off the beaten path and do whatever I want. There will be times when those voices will undoubtedly echo in my head with the message that I look like a fool, but I’m going to try to ignore them. I can’t guarantee I’ll always succeed, but I’m going to try.
I’m 36. I’m not dead.
I suppose my compromise is that I’m not planning any lifts, tucks or injections (at least for now). I want to hold onto youth, not become a plastic, shellacked version of myself. I’m going to let my hair grow long again, and, yes, I have said to myself I want to let it grow long again “before I’m too old to wear it this way,” but I’m trying to get those words out of my vocabularly. I’m going to invest in supercharged wrinkle cream. I’m going to keep getting my signature highlights and trying to lose weight so I can fit into cuter clothes and wear heels without feeling like I’m trying to balance an elephant on a toothpick.
I’m going to keep liking things that others say are too young for me, and the haters can just keep hating. If you’re going to tear me apart, do it because I need to lose weight, my car needs to be washed or my house isn’t as clean as it could/should be.
So to all those women out there who want to pick each other apart, I say, “Go ahead.” If your dissatisfaction with your own life makes you feel you have to pick others apart to make yourself feel better, then feel free to start with me.
I plan to give you plenty to talk about.