Wednesday at the Tuesday Prude: Grandma Bodies


grandmother-4576437_1920I want to talk about the war on women. Women of a certain age. Women of a certain age’s bodies, to be specific.

The Super Bowl halftime show got me thinking about this socially-acceptable war. Incidentally, I’m not here to complain about the—um—energetic gyrations of the dancers. Or the mouthwatering sum of money the women performers must have paid for their wedgie-generating outfits that I could fold up and fit in an Altoids tin.

Here’s my main issue with that performance. One of the lead women performers is 50. FIFTY. She is old enough to qualify for an AARP card, people! Before she knows it she’ll be looking up directions to the Social Security office. She is half a century old.

Bully for her. My problem comes with the adulation thrown at her half-century feet, the cries of “Women of a certain age can look that good!” and “She’s in better shape than women in their teens!” and “Why can’t all AARP card-carrying women dance on a pole?”

Will it never end? How old do I have to be before I can say “I WANT TO LOOK MY AGE!”

The pressure to be buff and fit and fabulous and unwrinkled and alluring and slinky should be in my past, shouldn’t it? I look at photos of my grandmothers when they were in their fifties and sixties. Gray hair, support hose, Dr. Scholls footwear, work-reddened hands. They didn’t have time to worry about how their backside would look in high-cut garments. (Which existed in those days. They were undies whose elastic had given out.)

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It’s not that my grandmas didn’t care what they looked like. They wanted to look their best. Which, as their bodies aged and settled and became cushioned, meant being neat and clean. They had a few “good” dresses and necklaces and brooches for Sunday and weddings. Work dresses and aprons for almost everything else. Their primary attire was their labor and their love.

At what age do I get to decide what looks “good for my age?” How many fitness classes and wrinkle creams and plastic surgeries do I need so people admire my advanced state of preservation? When can I make peace with gravity? Stop insisting that the miles and years don’t exist and haven’t taken their toll?

I’m plenty vain. I don’t want to be dowdy. I wouldn’t mind if occasionally someone underestimated my age. But not to the extent that I want to be mistaken for my grandchildren’s mother.

It’s time to fight back against this war on grandma bodies. I’m going to look the best I can, take care of myself, and be at peace with my grandma shape. Wear the miles with pride. Clothe myself with labor and love. Which are guaranteed to never give me a wedgie.

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13 thoughts on “Wednesday at the Tuesday Prude: Grandma Bodies

  1. Is it appropriate to say . . . You look marvelous! Love the “grandma” picture of you and hubby. I always say, “I’ve earned every bit of gray hair I have.” There’s a wisdom that comes only with age and life experience.

    I love your phrase “clothed with labor and love.” That describes my own grandparents, for sure. I hope my future grandchildren can say that about me.

  2. Amen! Rampant narcissism is eroding our minds, our wallets, and our bodies one sculpted centimeter at a time. Makes me froth at the mouth. It’s called healthy, but in fact it’s incredibly unhealthy at a core emotional, personality level.

  3. David says you won’t have to worry when you actually realize your husband still finds you beautiful and alluring and everyone else doesn’t matter.

  4. Oh, Anita, I’m alternately laughing like a loon (…fit up and fold into an Altoids tin!!!) and shouting, “AMEN!” I’m about to hit that big half century mark myself and have been asking many of the same questions….when can I just settle into a state of being comfortable with my aging body? Soon, I hope. But then I watch J-Lo on the stripper pole…. Ugh! Thanks for voicing what we’re all thinking!

    • You are so welcome. I confess the performance didn’t just frustrate me because of the whole comfortable-in-50+year-old-skin thing. It’s the backlash against anyone who questioned the taste or wisdom or decency—especially when children are watching and learning. I’m thinking of starting a “PRUDE AND PROUD” movement. Are you with me? 🙂

  5. As a mom of young kids about to hit 40 this post speaks to me! I’m just beginning to lament the loss of firm skin and perfect vision. Having kids has brought me into a place where accepting less than a perfect body is a real thing already but aging…it mystifies me how I will accept it. We are bombarded daily by images and words about how we ought to look and those things stick more than we want them to. Your words make me feel so encouraged that we CAN let go of our fixation on image! And we SHOULD and we GET TO! I look forward to getting there. Thanks for your thoughts 💕

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