Content Warning: In this post I talk about aging and body image. I want to start by acknowledging my immense privilege as a young, white, thin female who has faced minimal stigma in my life. I know this is not the case for everyone and if for any reason you feel this subject may que something for you and it will be safer for you to not read, please take care of yourself and do that.
Tomorrow I turn 26 years old. To be honest I've never really enjoyed birthdays all that much, mostly because I'm an introvert and birthdays called for (in my opinion) unnecessary attention. I mean, they announced it at school, they sing happy birthday in restaurants, everyone makes a big stink about it and I just wasn't into it.
Last year turning 25, I couldn't help but think "oh god, the dreaded terrible 26, I'll officially be closer to my thirties than I am to my teens." (because it's such a bad thing to put more distance between me and my teen years). Watching as others hit this marker before me, I have observed that this is, unfortunately, completely normal. According to the "powers that be", I feel like 25 is the last age deemed appropriate for most women to celebrate with enjoyment and glee, before 30 we should just stop sharing our age or choose the age we're going to use when we lie, at 40 we definitely aren't "allowed" to wear anything we want because there are some made up ridiculous rules about that too, and at 50 we're definitely not considered older and wiser, but just the little lady who probably needs aid crossing the street and is offered help for her grocery bags carried out to the car because we haven't managed for the first 50 years of our lives.
These last few months I've thought about ageism in our society today. I've thought about how it's ingrained in us, as women, to dread getting older. That we are told to fear aging, not necessarily because it means we're closer to death, but because with wrinkles and cellulite and stretch marks and sun spots and crows feet and graying hair and every thing else that shows that we've lived a full and meaningful life, that we won't fit our societies ideal of beauty. We're fed information and sold products and procedures. These products and procedures, of course, are only a temporary solution-because in spite of all the efforts in the world you'll continue aging, but society will keep on saying, young is beautiful and it's bullshit, because we're all screwed as it is an inevitable part of life.
So in my thoughts and angry rage towards these unrealistic standards I've decided to say (pardon my French) f*ck that sh!t.
This year, I'm embracing my birthday. I'm embracing becoming older. I'm embracing the lived experience, which in my opinion, is so much better than youth. I'm embracing my cellulite. I'm embracing the inevitable crows feet and graying hair and wrinkles and sun spots that say I've lived and laughed and smiled and some days I forgot to reapply sunscreen because I was so immersed in the living (whoops).
If my tattoos begin to fade or distort with time, if I choose to have children and develop stretch marks, if I have injuries that leave me with scars, if I have experiences (even if that experience is simply having the opportunity to grow older) that alters my appearance-I want to be able to welcome it and be grateful for this life.
I know this will not be easy. I know I'm going against a culture that does not agree. I know everything we are taught, nearly everything we see will say that this is the wrong approach. But in the end, I don't want to waste my life wasting time trying to regain something I can't get back.
The question is, are you ready to rebel? Will you join me?