This has not been the best week.
I passed out at home on Monday morning. I woke up enough when my face hit the floor to call B, my husband. The ER staff informed us my fainting and discomfort were due to having passed a kidney stone the size of a lemon pit. I know this because I peed it out while still at the hospital and got to take it home.
The fun continued on Tuesday. My doctor determined the cause of my chills, fever, nausea, and headache was a bladder infection. I returned and remained home, foggy-brained and bedridden for days.
The week’s low point came Friday afternoon. I felt well enough to shower, put on clean clothes, even take the elevator to my building’s main floor to check the mail. There was a white envelope, stamped “Card enclosed. Do not bend.” I hadn’t received any notice from my bank or credit card company. I saw it wasn’t that kind of card when I arrived back to my unit and opened the envelope. The card was an invitation to Join Now! and Get a FREE gift — a weekend tote! It had been sent by AARP.
That’s right. The American Association of Retired Persons. The organization that’s for people aged 50 and over. Fifty-years-old. Five zero. At 44, I’m still more pulling forty than pushing fifty. I was pissed. Halle Berry is 49 — pushing fifty! — and I bet she hasn’t been invited. People think of Halle and they think “hot” not “old”. Even JLo is older (46) and … hotter than me. That’s when things got complicated.
I had welcomed forty as the chance to start getting over never having been the “hot” girl. I was always (always) the smart girl; as a kid that marked me with a big ol’ loser “L” on my forehead and bull’s eye on my back. I was the funny girl, the nice girl, quiet, responsible, nervous, creative, artistic, resourceful, relentless. The list goes on and when I turned forty, I valued those qualities more. Who needed to be the hot girl? That invitation was a reminder that the answer was me.
I have achieved so much because I am smart, funny, responsible, creative, relentless. Those successes and my personal qualities are most valuable and won’t fade like “hotness”. And I know, I know, the people who can’t appreciate my inner amazingness are not worth my time. Who cares, right? That’s the thing: I realized I still do. Old = not hot = not relevant. That card from AARP was an invitation to be retired, decommissioned, taken out of the equation.
I didn’t realize what a complicated, knotty mess I’d find once I started exploring why I was so angry. It makes me angry that as women, even with all our fabulousness, there’s still the message that “not hot = not relevant”. It makes me mad that we women are always aware of how people see us and how that sometimes counts more than what’s inside. It makes me mad that all this junk still takes up space in my brain and makes me feel shallow and vain.
Here’s an invite from me to you, dear reader: Does old = not hot = not relevant? How does this equation affect you men out there? As always, comment (really), share, and thanks for reading.
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