A couple of months ago I had my 70th birthday. I’m now the same age as Helen Mirren, that perennial example of “ageless beauty.” It took me a few months to decide to write about being 70—not because I keep my age a secret (who can do that with all Google’s data, anyway?) but because it sounds so old.
Much has been written about the effects of aging on women: marginalization, loss of sex appeal and just plain dottiness. Sometimes I wonder if I’m headed in that direction. For example, I love my cats more than may be appropriate. I notice that occasionally I chat up the supermarket checker a bit too long. I over-explain, forgetting that no one needs (or cares) to know all those details. Stereotypes aside, it is harder to find age-appropriate clothing. There must be something fashionable between outfits designed for Taylor Swift and ensembles frumpy enough for Queen Elizabeth.
Nevertheless, there is a big upside to aging: I’m still around to age! It’s hard to beat that. Yes, there are irritating physical limitations, but they’re no worse than other age-related ailments like acne or menstruation. And when I refer to menstruation, I no longer care how many people think, “Ewwww.” Not caring so much about what others think is a big plus. It takes most of us decades to learn that others aren’t thinking about us anyway; they’re thinking about themselves and what we think of them. Getting older can bring with it the satisfaction of digging down to whom we truly are. It’s too bad that it takes a long time for many of us but time and experience may be the key ingredients. Being 70 doesn’t feel different from other ages except for a greater sense that if you want to know yourself and be yourself, you’d better get on with it.
Which brings me back to the secret of Helen Mirren’s timeless beauty. Here’s what she had to say on her 70th birthday: “You can’t control how other people see you or think of you. But you have to be comfortable with that….Being me right now is sort of amazing.”
You go, girl!