The myth of a middle aged white woman

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 15, 2017 8:52 PM

I am a middle-aged white woman. There, I said it. I have hair that needs colored, and lines around my eyes and mouth; my neck is starting to get that weird crepey thing as women’s necks do. I don’t feel old though I fear I’m starting to look it. I don’t care that much; truly. But you can’t work in the beauty industry as long as I did and not notice these things, and feel just a hint of self-consciousness, a twinge, like when you get up after sitting too long and your knees aren’t happy. Like when you stub your toe and you have a moment, a short lag time between “this is going to hurt” to “Jesus Christ that hurts!” 

I get my hair cut and colored every five weeks. I’m not as gray as a lot of my friends, or so my hairdresser tells me. I can’t really see it because the lighting in our bathroom isn’t great for seeing gray hair, and neither are my eyes. I try to exercise, I attempt to eat somewhat healthily, though I could be better at both. I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that I just don’t care that much anymore. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. Just a thing I guess. 

It’s Friday afternoon, and as I so often am at this time of the day, I’m sitting at my desk. The sun has started its descent into the western sky so it’s bathing my desk. It’s hot but not unbearable. Kevin is out running errands. Up until a few minutes ago, I was working but it’s after 5 now. All of my clients have left for the weekend. Right now it’s just me and Riley, awaiting the return of the husband/dad unit so that our weekend can begin as well. 

This week, I spent three days in Sacramento, at a training with one of my clients. The interesting thing about my job is how many clients I have that I’ve never met. I talk to people on the phone; I text and email. We work together for years and there’s really no need to get together. But this weekend required face time, and I did wonder if some would find me too old. I needn’t have worried. Nobody seemed to care, and there were many my age. I boarded a plane on Monday, flew first to Phoenix (a whopping 22-minute flight) and then connected to Sacramento. I flew home Wednesday night, getting in at 10:45. Yesterday was a little blurry – two days of 8 am to 5 pm meetings are a bit exhausting – but today has been better. Yesterday, my eyes were glassy, my skin felt thick. Even my hair was tired. Today was better. Today I felt more human.

I got up a little later than normal but the day was cooler than it has been. I slipped into shorts and a tee, laced up my new white and gray Adidas shoes and with husband in tow, off we went to walk the dog. It was breezy, only mid 70s. We saw no one and encountered no creatures. Back at home, we made coffee, Kevin cleaned up last night’s dishes and I watered the plants on the deck. I went to work and spent the day happily ensconced there, at my desk, surveying the desert, watching the wind blow the trees, marveling that my new sneakers are so comfortable I hardly know I’m wearing shoes. Even by sneaker standards, these are more like slippers.

What does it mean to be a middle-aged white woman? I honestly don’t know. I suppose it means acceptance of certain things, of not apologizing for the way you are. It means not really caring that you have a few gray hairs or lines around your eyes. After all, having those things means you’ve lived long and hopefully well. It means it’s all good, and if you have a view and really comfortable sneakers, it’s better than that. It’s living it out loud.

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live out loud

Comments (3) -

9/16/2017 7:46:51 AM #

For those I encounter who worry about aging and growing old, not that you're one of them, I always ask them to consider the alternative. Speaking of which - Hitchens' quote on how to live life, from his book "Letters to a Young Contrarian", resonates here for me:

“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”

The grave will supply plenty of time for silence? All of a sudden, I don't mind growing old!

Fred Marcin United States

9/16/2017 8:49:59 AM #

Lorin, this all resonates with me. I only care that I am healthy and of sound mind...screw what I look like. Oh, and comfort...please tell me what sneakers are that comfortable!

Larissa Tepper United States

9/20/2017 10:56:16 PM #

Larissa, the sneakers are Adidas NMD R2. They were a little more money than I usually spend for sneakers, and when I ordered them, I sort of chastised myself for spending what I did (about $130). But they are the most amazingly comfortable sneakers/shoes I've ever owned. Highly worth it!

admin United States

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