I was talking to an acquaintance today and she mentioned that her sweetie of fifteen years had gone to the Burning Man event in Nevada. She said she reacted strongly when he called and casually mentioned the nudity and shenanigans that are part of the Burning Man environment.
At first I wasn’t sure what she meant by “reacted strongly,” so I asked for clarification. Her response, “Well, at my age it’s hard to compete with firm bodied twenty four year old women traipsing around naked. I felt threatened.”
I stared at her for a moment trying to comprehend her insecurity. This woman is a head-turner. She has glowing skin, an enviable figure, classic good looks, and lives a holistic centered life. I arched an eyebrow and told her I was surprised by her feelings given her obvious physical and spiritual attributes. She nodded with a frown. “I believe I am beautiful. Yet there’s something about knowing I’m perceived to be less than I was when younger that makes me feel anxious.”
It’s hard to argue with those feelings. I distinctly remember the day when men started flicking their eyes past me and focusing on my daughter. Somehow, in the time it takes a hummingbird to flutter, she had gone from being my little girl to a sexual object in men’s eyes. It was jarring. My daughter didn’t welcome the attention then, nor does she now, but her youth and beauty became magnets for men of all ages. Meanwhile I began to become more and more invisible. I’m like clothes walking around with no person inside because I’m over fifty and a woman.
While I’m in a fairly good place about my status as a culturally fading flower, I’m still shocked when I hear other older women tell me they no longer feel attractive. In my view the years have added exquisite layers to their once upon a time, youthful-but-blank, base. Older women have stories to tell and feel-them-to-your-soul hugs to give. Their faces and bodies have laughed, nurtured, and grieved. You know, actually lived life? Youth is great, but aging is precious. I believe time is the gift and not the enemy of true beauty. Why are we so insecure when we’ve been given so much?