Aging in the Fat Lane
I must confess that I am typically a little squeamish when it comes to “ism” words. Too often, I feel that they are thrown around simply because of difference of opinion rather than any real ism involved.
Recently, a good friend of mine asked me if I felt that there was ageism in the plus-size world. It isn’t something that I’d given a whole lot of thought. But I did start taking a look back over my life with the thought of aging in mind.
Often when I tell people my age (I’m 51 for the record), I am told that I don’t look my age. I’m pretty sure I don’t act my age and I KNOW that I don’t dress my age. But aside from those things that come along with age (menopause anyone?), I don’t really think about it all that much.
Here’s a confession. I like old movies (yeah, not the big scandal I sort of led you to believe). The Dane usually finds something of interest and it draws me right in.
My favorite screen actress is Helen Mirren. Recently, I read an article on her related to age (incidentally, she’s 70).
The article made me consider the decades of my life, not a whole lot, but some. Here are some of my thoughts…
I’ll start with my teen years as those are the years that begin to build your self-esteem. Mine sucked. Starting around age 9, I started growing breasts. This was way sooner than the other girls in my class. And while I was still somewhat thin, I wore poncho type tops to hide so that I wouldn’t get noticed by my classmates. By age 14, it was very obvious that I was going to be that girl with the big boobs. After a while, I got used to it and it didn’t bother me as much, but the self-esteem issue didn’t change.
I had a couple of really good girlfriends from high school. Two of them are still in my life to this day. I should also mention that I have a large group of female cousins – four of them are like sisters to me (plus I have an actual sister) and I have kept them close through the years. I also have a very good relationship with my mother and did with my grandmother.
College was about the same as high school. My first trip to college (I have a BS in Political Science) was fun. I had a lot of friends and stayed very active despite working three jobs and going to school full-time. Though I dated some, I was still very awkward and unsure of myself. I thought that I was getting pretty long in the tooth and headed toward old maid hood when I started dating my first husband.
Of note…toward the end of college, I had a very bad experience with one group of my girlfriends. Inner circle type friends. It was an eye-opening experience and it left me pretty scarred. For a long time, I kept women friends at bay. I had girlfriends that I sort of hung around with, but they never knew my innermost secrets.
I wish that I could say that being married changed everything for the better. It didn’t, though it should have. If anything, my twenties were the worst.
In my early twenties, I had no real close girlfriends and kept it that way for a long time. By the end of the decade, I had two girlfriends (aside from my family and high school friends) that I trusted and started to let in.
In my thirties, I came to life. Chicka was born and that changed everything. She gave me focus for my future because I wanted to be a good role model for her. I continued to work three jobs, which I juggled when going to school (finished my LPN and ADN degrees). My home life was small, aside from my immediate family, I had off/on roommates, a variety of cats and my step-daughers when I could get them. During this decade, I had three semi-serious relationships interspersed with a smattering of dating during the single portions. Looking back, I’m surprised I survived. It seems like I never slept.
Of my three long-term relationship during this time in my life, two of them asked me to marry them. I was the one that said no. Back then, the thought of being tied down and “truly” committed scared me more than a little. By the late-middle of the decade, I’d taken a travel job just so I didn’t have to deal with anyone thinking I was going to settle down again.
Around the time I started traveling, I started building real positive relationships with women. I had a very strong group of friends that I trusted (still do). Interestingly, I think that having this group of friends was probably one of the main reasons that I gained more confidence.
This decade took me by surprise. I had way more confidence than I ever had. My relationships with my girlfriend circle was solid (still is) and I began to want to settle down again. I ended my thirties single. I’d had an on again off again relationship that seemed never-ending. Most of me knew that somehow “the right time” for the relationship had passed and it was time to move on. Things were a little uncertain for me. I knew that I was beginning to feel the tug toward a long-term stable relationship, but I felt exhausted by the thought of it.
I started to “find” myself and I liked me. I’d completed my career goals (so I thought, I ended up going back and getting my BSN) and it was time to work on myself spiritually. I changed my focus and became more grounded. Gone were the late night decisions to fly off to Louisiana (Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee) on a whim just because I had a break from school. Gone were the late nights watching the sun come up. Suddenly, I began to notice things like birds and flowers again. Then I met The Dane. At first, all I wanted was a very good friend. He fit that bill. We took our time getting to know each other just as friends, though in reality we were always together.
I discovered that having a man as a best friend was actually pretty cool. Before I even knew it, our relationship had developed into something heartfelt and honest. That’s when I knew that I never wanted there to be a day that went by without him and I knew that I was in the deepest kind of love there is.
My forties were awesome!
Helen Mirren says that your 40s are good and your 50s are great. I’m looking forward to every minute of it.
Aging has been a gift and I hope I get to see a lot more decades to come. A few things I know for sure, I’m never going to act my age and I’m damn sure not going to “dress” my age.
To celebrate aging, I thought I’d share a few blogs from others that are aging gracefully:
Until next time, have a great weekend!