Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Crone

Once upon a time, I was young, and met many of our culture's criteria for prettiness. I was slender, my face was more or less symmetrical, I had a clear complexion, I was short, and I had discernible breasts.

I received a good bit of attention for this, not all of it pleasant. A pervert flashed his member while I walked past on my way home from high school. ["Flashed" makes it sound like I could've missed it if I'd blinked; let me assure you, I would have to have taken a nap to have missed it.]

A health-club sales prospect once pressed his full body up against my back as I showed him the squash courts. [Oh! Now I get it: the SQUASH courts! Hah! I did not find it funny. I was afraid he was going to push me right over into the court many feet below.]

But most of the attention was innocuous: doors held open, smiles. Inclusion.

Then I gained weight. And then I aged. And gradually, I have become almost invisible. You may doubt me, but it's true. I recently stood patiently waiting for a fitting room for at least 10 minutes before the pretty, young attendant even acknowledged me and directed me to a room that had been vacant the entire time. (No one had left in the previous ten minutes, so I know it hadn't been recently vacated.)

I remember also one colleague who virtually stopped communicating with me when I gained weight, only to "rediscover" me when I lost 25 pounds. Even Jennifer Hudson, who lost 80 pounds, agrees.
People are friendlier; there are more opportunities, more flexibility in so many different ways. I think it’s messed up that people are so image-driven and your appearance affects the way people treat you,” she added. “It’s crazy and it may be something we do subconsciously, but there it is.
Frankly, I've reached a point where, even if I could exercise and diet my way back into a size 6, my skin, age spots, under-eye circles, and boob-saggage would clearly mark me as non-sexual and therefore invisible (except to a certain significant other). I have not inherited good genes in that department.

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Source
Why are there sequins on her face? Are they covering moles?
I can see how women once idolized for their beauty - like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard -- make youth their obsession.

I'm not quite ready to embrace the role of Crone, nor am I bitter or disgruntled about fading to the periphery (though rudeness, as displayed by the fitting room attendant, is not okay). I'm just reflecting on what it is to be me, overweight, approaching 50, and entering menopause. It is an entirely new stage of life. And unlike the other stages (childhood, adolescence, womanhood, motherhood ...), I think I would like to navigate this one, rather than just ride the currents.

Incidentally, all of this meandering was triggered by this hysterically funny video. Enjoy!
"All the things I have to look forward to, now that my womb is ... old." ~ Shannon Bradley-Colleary, the Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful.

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