Am I ageing wrong? I contemplated this as I sat alone at a restaurant waiting for four of my close friends. (I was 10 minutes late, but they were even later. Middle-aged women are less punctual than teens.) I flicked through my phone looking at pictures of “our Nic” canoodling up to her spunky husband at some Hollywood function. Th ere she was, all plump lips and smooth forehead and perfectly toned arms. And here I was, with my frown lines and reading glasses, with no one but a spunky waiter to keep me company.
I’m the same age as Nic, yet we look like we were born on different planets some 20 years apart. She’s taut and porcelain, and I’m lived-in and crumply, with creases in surprising places. (Seriously, my décolletage is developing wrinkles these days. And it’s not like I frown with my chest!).
There has always been pressure on young women to look a certain way, but now there’s also a “right” way to be old. And as I sat there, scrolling through photos of 50-something celebrities with their unlined faces and rock-hard abs, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.
Then my friends arrived in a rush of noise and apologies, and I forgot to feel anything but pleasure. We talked about our kids (fabulous/problematic/crazy), our men (annoying/non-existent/crazy) and our work (busy/slow/crazy), then the conversation turned to health.
My friends and I are healthy but we’re also middle-aged, so we have our aches and pains. A couple of us have gut problems, a couple of us have arthritis, and a couple of us are moving towards the dreaded menopause. And then, of course, there are the ubiquitous back problems. You don’t give birth to three kids and live nearly 50 years without doing yourself an injury at some point along the line.
As we ate and swapped names of masseurs and doctors, I imagined one of the celebrities joining us at the table….