I’m at an age where everything is going South – as my facial skin sags downwards my eyes have become more and more hooded, my high cheekbones are slowly dropping into jowl territory, and my chin is no longer truly single but carries an unbecoming echo in its repeating outline.
The delicate skin around my neck and chest now has the texture of dry crepe paper, and these days my always-substantial cleavage requires a serious level of upholstery to maintain any semblance of remaining on my chest wall rather than descending despondently onto my flabby midriff. Menopausal middle-aged spread pushes its frontline further and further outwards, invading my waistline and amply re-drawing its borders without mercy.
Varicose veins have doodled mindlessly down my legs, where cellulite gives my thighs the appearance of a well-worn mattress with dodgy spings. Even the skin on my hands and feet is becoming increasingly wrinkled, my knuckles thickening as my joints stiffen and ache. Like my steadily-greying hair being slowly sapped of pigment, I feel like I am losing my past vibrancy: my bodily tone is fading from sharp, bright primary colours to a more sombre and muted palette. I am undoubtedly growing old, becoming more and more invisible and unrecognisable to myself as the years pass.
It gets me down at times, I can’t pretend it doesn’t. But on the other hand, I wonder why I feel it is such a bad thing to look so lived-in? In one sense I’m lucky in that up until recently I’ve always looked relatively young for my age, but in another it makes these now-so-obvious signs of aging so much more difficult to deal with. I remind myself that I’m a fifty-something mother and a grandmother and I’ve worked hard all my life, struggling at times with both my physical and mental health, and the fact that my past can be so clearly traced on my naturally-ageing body is perhaps something to learn to be proud of rather than ashamed…