Who’s to say who is pretty, ugly, fat, thin, rich, poor, smart, stupid, good, evil, crazy, not-so-crazy? Few things in life are concrete dividers as to what you are. But we women are handed a fairly distinct marker that tells us we are no longer young, and I don’t mean that moment when most policemen look like boys. Unlike men, who seem to tell themselves they’re young way, waaay after the point they should, women go through a palpable physical change. This change, cannily referred to as “the change”, denotes a transition from Spice Girl to Old Spice Lady. Don’t get me wrong, we can still dress like Spice Girls (though I wouldn’t recommend “Baby Spice”) but we are demonstrably no longer girls. Our ovaries see to that.
All women go through menopause, this thing that usually lasts 7 years but can stick around for up to 14. Menopause is accompanied by a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that vary from woman to woman. Still, though it happens to effing HALF of the entire effing population, you never hear about it. Even the phrase “the change” is whispered as an oblique way to refer to a variety of indicators that totally rock the world of – did I mention this already? – half of society. Menopause needs to come out of the closet, step into the spotlight and get its due. We women (did I mention we make up half of the freaking population?) need to take up space, demand information and care, and everyone needs to stop acting like this isn’t happening. But I’m not just talking about the pain-in-the-ass symptoms: hot flashes, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, moodiness, irritability, pain during sex, depression.
I’m talking about the fact that our bodies tell us that we are no longer young any more. Look, I am NOT saying we’re not cool, stylin’, smart, fierce, sexy and sassy. No angry emails, please. I am not saying we aren’t young at heart, but there’s no denying it, we are just not young at uterus. Yell at Mother Nature, not me. I don’t like the hot flashes, mood swings, and sleepless nights. And I hate the fact my metabolism has seemingly ground to a halt. I never thought I’d see the day when I missed having my period, but I do. It really helped me keep track of time. “Oh, has it been a month already? Wow, that went by fast.” To be honest, I really miss being young. My young ovaries, and especially my young metabolism, knees, back and eyes.
And since we’re being honest, let’s face facts: that ship has sailed. That estrogen has sailed. As the saying goes, “We’re not getting any younger.” We’re just not. No amount of Retinol, Juvederm, or hormone injections can change that. No duck lips, no crepe-y Real Housewives cleavage can get our 20s mojo back. So, while we’re facing this fact, let’s face another fact: It sucks. I had to leave my 20s mojo behind, and all those other decades’ mojos, to see how great they were. I didn’t fully appreciate them until they were gone. But they are gone. I need to own that and I need to mourn. I want to own that so I can mourn that, because I want to move forward.
All my ladies, it’s time to work that menopausal mojo. There’s plenty of us, and there’s plenty of it. Every time I refer to myself as old, I get the same ole, “You’re not old, you’re…” Well, like I said, I don’t menstruate any more. That is some empirical not-young evidence right there. My life is likely at least two-thirds over, there’s some more. So, I think it’s perfectly fair and proper to call myself I’m old. In my opinion, the problem isn’t that I call myself old, the problem is why won’t people let me? What’s wrong with old?
Aging happens to all of us, and it’s not a death sentence. OK, it is a death sentence, but again, it happens to all of us so stop being babies and let’s start being old ladies. But not your mother’s old ladies, our brand of old ladies. Women who do what they want, say what they want, dress how they want, live how they want. When I refer to myself as old, I’m not putting myself down. I’m stating and embracing an empirical truth, one I’m ready and eager to explore and celebrate.
Life (my ovaries, hips and passport) have told me I’m no longer a young woman. But I’m still a woman, and I refuse to pretend, hide or apologize. I’m here, I’m old, get used to it. I have to, so you should too.
This article also appears on the site Jumble & Flow.