I turned 47 last month, which would have seemed far more difficult to believe if I wasn’t faced with so much evidence of aging on the reg these days: more and more grey hairs but less hair volume overall, an increasingly blurry jawline, that helpless little umff noise I seem to make now whenever I haul myself out of a chair, the growing feeling of disconnect with pretty much every fashion trend that emerges (paperbag-waist pants can go fuck themselves in particular, followed closely by mom jeans).

It’s not easy to feel total acceptance about getting older. I mean, is there anything graceful about seeing your neck transform into a pile of wadded-up crepe paper? How about those aforementioned grey hairs and the way they’re so incredibly wiry, as though calcifying from the inside out? Or when you accidentally open the front-facing camera on your phone when you’re at a not-great angle and it’s like my GOD, I’m just straight-up melting like those Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Well. Aside from the whole Observing Your Own Rapid Decay side of things, there are upsides to being of a certain vintage. For instance, I don’t even have to endure the humiliation of trying those weird bag-waist pants: I can tell from wayyyyyy over here they’re not for me. I feel far more settled in who I am and what I care about, and there is a real element of peace to that.

It’s like I’ve spent much of my life trying to form myself into different shapes, and I am finally losing the desire to keep doing so. Middle age feels like a lot of things, but perhaps most of all it feels far more authentic.


19 Responses to “My own shape”

  1. Pete on March 7th, 2021 11:51 am

    Authentic? That’s one way to describe it. I prefer acceptance.

  2. Anonymous on March 7th, 2021 12:14 pm

    I just googled paper bag pants and literally burst out in laughter.

  3. Kate on March 7th, 2021 4:36 pm

    I’m turning 46 next month. I frequently hear your voice in my head from one of your after-40 posts: “Pants can basically go fuck themselves.”

  4. Anonymous on March 7th, 2021 5:57 pm

    When I started reading your blog I was in my early forties, and now I’m in my sixties. I have enjoyed your wry and perceptive comments along the way, but I feel that I am now at risk of sounding like those REALLY annoying people who tell you to ‘enjoy it while it lasts’ as you wrangle your screaming baby. So I’m definitely NOT saying: in twenty years time you’ll look back at photos of your hyper-critical self and realise that actually you look great.

  5. TinaNZ on March 7th, 2021 5:58 pm

    Accidentally Anonymous; that was from me.

  6. JennB on March 8th, 2021 6:44 am

    Late 40s plus a pandemic means I have literally stopped caring.I am more comfortable in my body, despite the aches and pains I encounter on a daily basis. I am trying some healthier eating, I am trying to do daily walks, it’s been cold as hell in the Northeast, so mostly I sleep.
    Hey, at least I’m not eating.
    And I drink a ton of water.
    Accepted. Physical body, fine.
    Mental health, though. That shit is slipping daily.

  7. Barbara on March 8th, 2021 9:12 am

    Late 40s here and you nailed it. My thing is must every meeting now be a video call? Not that I enjoy the phone, but at least then I wasn’t shocked by the video preview that pops up right before the meeting starts.

  8. Megan on March 8th, 2021 11:23 am

    Turning 48 in June myself and let me tell you that I was SHOCKED at what is going on with my neck. I feel like one day it was totally normal, and then I woke up to find it slowly sliding in ruffles down to my boobs. So that’s fun. But I completely agree about feeling more settled. I am who I am, and I am ok with that. And paper bag pants? Giant NO THANK YOU.

  9. Shawna on March 8th, 2021 1:13 pm

    I too googled “paperbag-waist pants”, but they look like they are slightly baggy and have elastic at the top, and the description says they’re stretchy and have pockets, so I’m all over that!

    Mom jeans, however, can definitely go fuck themselves.

  10. Shawna on March 9th, 2021 7:10 am

    Also, the neck wattle is the WORST! I lost 35 lbs last year and my skin has apparently lost the ability to bounce back. I can put up with anything else more gracefully than that!

  11. Archer's Mom on March 9th, 2021 8:46 am

    Read I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron.

  12. Martha Pepek on March 9th, 2021 9:31 am

    I relate to your post and these comments. I will say, the advantage to being fat is no crepe-y neck. Of course, when, and if, I lose the weight, all bets are off. I’ve been posting pictures of me from decades ago, lately, and all I can say is, “Man, I had no idea I was actually cute”. This, of course emphasizes the comments earlier in this thread…enjoy the stage you are at – before you know it, you will be older. And keep up the good self care. Say no to crappy fashion choices!

  13. Sarah on March 9th, 2021 11:59 am

    I was bemoaning middle age and then I thought about it and there are SO many positives
    – My kids are old enough that they are still at home, yet more independent.
    -my parents are still alive and healthy
    -I have friendships that are now decades old and with people I really enjoy (I have now weeded out the toxic friends).
    – I am physically able to do most things
    -I KNOW things – how to cook(I rarely have to call my mom), how I things set up in the house, yardwork, technology etc.
    -I can pick my own style without having to worry I don’t look cool enough. (I am continuing to part my hair on the side even though it has been pointed out that it makes me old)
    I really think this is the best place to be. I’m trying my best to enjoy it as much as possible.

  14. Jill M Hughes on March 10th, 2021 6:19 am

    I am turning 50 (!!) at the end of the month. Even though that is hard for me to wrap my head around, I really like this stage of life. I know what is truly important to me and I really don’t care what people think of my hair, makeup or fashion choices.(I think those paper bag jeans look ridiculous on pretty much everyone) It’s nice to finally, truly feel comfortable in my own skin

  15. Meg on March 10th, 2021 4:04 pm

    Oh gosh I hear you. It took me years to realise that it’s not “being old” that’s the problem. I’ve met people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s who look great (I’m mid 40s).

    It’s “getting older” that’s the problem.

    But I hear you about self-confidence and no longer giving a shit about some things. Those parts are great.

    (Also, while I very much miss some parts of having small children – the cuddles, the closeness, the cuteness – I fucking LOVE that everyone can get themselves into the car in the morning and buckle up their own seatbelts. Youngest even remembers her shoes every morning without me prompting.)

  16. gurgaon on March 10th, 2021 4:50 pm


    All & Sundry

  17. Mackenna on March 13th, 2021 4:52 pm

    Personally contemplating a face lift now but realize this needs to include the neck and what about the hands! God! I’ve surrendered to grey hair (thanks COVID, for giving me the privacy to endure that transition) and it’s not so bad since platinum silver is somewhat fashionable and hairdressers and work wonders with lowlights.

    I now regret hating myself in my 30s, 40s, and early 50s…looking at photos and thinking…you look good but I didn’t think so at the time.

  18. Mackenna on March 13th, 2021 4:54 pm

    Postscript: The one bonus of aging for women is NO MORE PERIODS. This cannot be understated.

  19. Robin Danely on March 18th, 2021 5:39 am

    Amen to this!

    I once joked with a friend that the thing that sucks about getting older is that it happens to you when you’re still young.

    I find myself ragefully resentful of all the products and procedures aimed at erasing the signs of aging, but still inextricably caught between wanting to stop caring about how I look and wanting to still be SEEN.

    And mom jeans can absolutely go fuck themselves.

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