Aging and embodiment

I have been thinking lately about the physical aging process a body goes through. More specifically, how I will age.

I expect I will get spider veins. Wrinkles. My teeth will get more stained. (My dentist says it's the tea. Like I'm going to stop drinking tea! Good one!) I'll gain weight and my skin will get droopier. My hair will thin and its color fade to gray or white.

I've been wondering, how will I deal with that? Will it be difficult to reconcile with the way I think about myself? Will I feel less attractive? Will I feel like I should stop going bare-legged, and will that be boring? Will I feel less myself?

I do want to receive my years graciously.

My best hope, what I absolutely promise to myself, is that I will not stop feeling at home in my body. You can see the difference in the way people walk, if they feel ashamed or uncomfortable or uncertain in their body's capabilities. I think I can see it more because of my dance training. Dancers and (other) athletes inhabit their bodies like no others.

Even though at times I feel self-conscious walking around in a swimsuit, I always still feel like I belong in my body, in its motion and ease of expression. There's no awkwardness between me and my limbs, my hips. My feet have carried me over many, many miles; I can glide from one yoga pose to another as comfortably as I am typing these words; I have flown through a reel that would make feet tap all over the room. Happiness is not just being in the sun; it's the way I relax over my legs and walk my fingers across my ankles. I still belong in this body.

That's what I want to keep. That's what I will keep.

10 comments:

Leia 8/02/2010 4:08 AM  

This is a great post. I've been worrying about old age as well (even though I'm 21!!) - mostly in terms of wrinkles. I think that as long as you eat healthily, continue to exercise, and most importantly, feel happy and confident in your body, you'll be fine! You don't have to follow the convention 'rules' like covering up your legs. My mother is 54, and she still wears dresses and skirts and plunging necklines! She's definitely not age-appropriate, if there is such a thing, but she just does what she feels like, and everyone always tells her she looks great. You just have to be happy within yourself, and it will radiate outwards!

Leia

Beth Kephart 8/02/2010 6:20 AM  

Oh, Holly. Hold to this.

pinkapplecore 8/02/2010 7:47 AM  

I always hoped that when I got old I would have white hair like my Great Great Aunt Mary. and I already have spider veins in my legs so I don't worry about that. I guess what I worry about is my memories. I don't want to forgot important things.

geekspawn 8/02/2010 3:40 PM  

I agree with pinkapplecore on the white hair thing, and the not wanting to lose my memories. I especially don't want to be like my friend's grandma, who wears longsleeved turtlenecks all year (yes, including the summer) here in AZ so no one will see her wrinkles. I don't mind wrinkles; actually, I think they make people's faces interesting.
I do hope I keep liking my body. Right now, I love it. I love being able to stand in front of a mirror and like what I see and be most comfortable when I am just in my skin (no, I'm not a nudist, don't worry...) and am simply ME, imperfections and all. I don't want that to change.

Sarah Louise 8/02/2010 7:36 PM  

Heck I never thought this is what 38 would look like, but thanks to my oily skin as a teen, I still have no crows feet, wrinkles...the weight gain this year has made me more self conscious, not about how I look, per se, but about how I move. Stay you, my dear, inside. The outside will change. But the inside does radiate out.

(And not having any full length mirrors does help...)

xo,
SL

Holly 8/02/2010 11:49 PM  

Leia - AH, thank you so much! That actually is incredibly encouraging about your mother. I am going to remember her.

Beth - Shall, Beth.

pinkapplecore - I don't worry too much about memories because I journal/blog/photograph soo much. I find white hair truly lovely as well...if I end up with plain grey instead, I may well just dye it white! :P

geekspawn - Aw, that's kind of sad. No one should tyrannize themselves because of their appearance that way. As to that hope, I think if you determine to, you will. THAT makes me happy to hear. Exceptional girl. It is a pleasure, isn't it.

Sarah Louise - Oily skin could do that?! Crazy. And nice. I sympathize with that distinction (appearance versus the feeling of oneself in motion). And thank you. <3

Anonymous 8/03/2010 8:18 AM  

Wear sunscreen.

Holly 8/03/2010 5:13 PM  

Anonymous - Oh, Nikki! What a surprising suggestion!

marzipan 8/17/2010 8:34 PM  

Thanks so much for linking to this post. Aging is not a topic that I address too often (for fear that people will strike me down because I'm still young and couldn't POSSIBLY understand), but I think that it is SO interesting. I think that women are so beautiful as they get older. I love grey hair and wrinkles and people whose bodies have stories to tell. I think that aging is scary - but I can't imagine anything scarier than middle school, so I'm looking forward to gracefully becoming more and more comfortable in my skin as I get older. SUCH a lovely and thoughtful post. Thank you. xoxo.

Holly 8/25/2010 9:38 PM  

marzipan - Thank you, Mara. I agree, I think old bodies could be more beautiful, with their visible stories. If we thought differently. Which we could.

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