Losing My Touch
Yes, That's Me at JWIBLOG.ORG

On Being 48

For a long time I would be content at looking at my face and noting that I don’t look my age and then getting on with my day without mulling over the passage of time and its impact on my physical appearance. And since people would always tell me that as well, I succumbed to that illusion for quite a while. But lately I have been noticing how my skin is different than it used to be. I have a few brown spots on my hands, certainly not like anything those my Aunt Helen had that used to make me fear “old,” rather they make me realize that change has come. The skin of my hands looks like ripples on a lake on a fall morning rather than that same lake on a placid summer afternoon.

I look used.

Now that I’m not living in a little room with no shades and therefore changing quickly in the bathroom, I have a bit more time to contemplate the bigger developments that have occurred. While I was never thin, I was never flabby; since my pregnancies I have held my stomach in (supposedly strengthening the stomach muscles) which seemed to work well for quite a long time. But now there’s more stomach and there’s sag. When I put on a sweater for the first time in a long time the other day I noticed that I’m starting to look like those women who have lost their waists—I have become barrelish—and I don’t like it.

I bought a book recommended by a friend, Strong Women Stay Young, and I will start doing the exercises, so I have no intention of going silently into the night but it has certainly been an awakening, this whole body change thing.

Unlike quite a few friends, I have not yet been touched by menopause; on that account I am still young. But I wouldn’t mind the cessation in monthly action, I mean really, I’m not going to discover a need for a baby at 48 so the whole enterprise can just stop. And it’s not as if I need to make sure that I’m not pregnant, because, you know, I know how the baby-making enterprise happens and there’s no fear of a scare or need for a stick to pee on.

And my thighs, my my, I didn’t know that they could get softer than they had been. They have become real has-beens. Yes, all of me looks used.

Other than the body stuff, the word “retirement” has entered my mindset, as in this thought: I have to work at least another twenty years before I can retire. What’s more, the illusions of my twenties and thirties, and even my earlier forties have been exchanged for a look into the interior mirror. Not that that’s bad because as part of the process I have decided that realistic hopefulness is better for me than vague expectations. Maybe I will finally become the woman of action that I never became with those hopes of being discovered merely because of my being here or at least being supported by an accommodating man.

I’m not quite sure why I’m supposed to pretend that this process has not been noticed and try to make it go away, what could possibly be wrong with continuing a process? Maybe it is fall and the beauty of aging leaves captivates me. The budding leaves of spring and the fullness of summer leaves are surely things of beauty, but who would forfeit the confetti of autumn?



I don't feel like the middle-aged person that I am, but the other day I was shopping with my son and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and hardly recognized that woman I saw in the mirror. (I think it was a bad, lying mirror.) This subject resonates with me right now. For some reason, since my last birthday, I've been acutely aware of the fact that I'm not as young as I used to be.

One thing I know is that we're improving with age. We don't need plastic surgery, and we won't shrink away. Our voices will continue to be heard.


When I reached 50 and realized I no longer looked young, it was a bit disturbing. I had put on weight and also developed that belly sag. I've dieted to no avail - so I've finally decided to just buy comfortable clothes, drink lots of water, take care of my skin and then do pretty much whatever the hell I want.
Being 50 is liberating in some ways. I've past the point where I worry about either "fitting in" or "being normal". I do what I feel like doing; my front porch and even a few trees out front have a number of wind chimes in different sizes with different tones, just because I like to hear them when the wind blows. I hang little sparkling jewelry bags from my curtains because I like the way the light plays off them. I sing (softly) was I'm shopping much to my husband's discomfort. I smile at everyone, even the grumpy guy in line at the store. And I try to lift someone else up by word or deed every day, even if it's just thanking a customer service person on the phone and wishing them a good day. It is amazing to hear the change in their tone and how chatty they get.
So find a long comfortable shirt, throw a belt around your waist and then do what pleases you. Go to the gym, diet and exercise, but only if it makes you happy - not because that's what you should do. I think the next twenty years of your life are going to be astounding!


It's odd that I just had these same general sort of thoughts about a month ago - not about you, of course; I was reasonably new to your blog then and only have a mental image of you based on your writing so it would be wildly inappropriate of me to ever discuss your thighs.
My choice, not because I'm staring at 48 in two months but because I was tired of comments about my weight, was to buy a bike. I don't feel at all as though I look my age and would like to keep it that way. I like it when people are surprised when they find out how old I am and would like to continue surprising people well into my retirement.
And though there's nothing wrong with process, it certainly doesn't hurt to manipulate and tweak it here and there when you can...


I don't recall my mother ever bemoaning the signs of aging. I blame our youth oriented culture for my own critical (and often surprised) observation of my body's decline. Nine times out of ten I regard it as natural and liberating - it's that 10th time that gets me...
Remaining fit is good. Humour is also a wonderful antidote. Have you read Nora Ephron's book I Feel Bad About My Neck? A wonderful, liberating read.


I like your thoughts on aging and the fall season. It sounds so much nicer, and natural that way. It should be of course. But I find it difficult to have these accepting type of thoughts surrounded by photos of nipped and tucked celebrities on every grocery aisle.

I did have to laugh at your thigh description. Because that is how I feel about parts of my body. And it's so much better to think it and laugh.

I hope you had/or have a wonderful birthday.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

JC, maybe as we age we just focus more on who we are and not how we look--or should. It's been so long since I was 16, you'd think I would have changed my internal picture by now.

rockync, I also need to not compare myself to my friends who have always been slim and continue to be so. We are each a chime with a different tone.

Geo, people were always stunned to learn that I have an 18-year-old. But things are definitely changing; on the line to go to a town hall meeting in August a woman asked if I had a daughter who had been at law school with her. I couldn't even chastise her in my mind by saying that she's on the wrong side on all things because she was avidly for reform and the public option. Oh, and no one but me is allowed to discuss what I used to refer to as my Polish thighs.

Beth, I loved that book--I aspire to write a book as funny and insightful as that. Perhaps because our mothers (mine, at least) were not so out there in their careers and single-ness they didn't need to contemplate their looks so much.

Christine, I have months to go before my next birthday. I've just been seeing myself differently lately. Perhaps, too, because of my age I don't compare myself to any of the stars, young or older, because, well, I won't be one of them, so I might as well be me.


I turned 52 in September and, yes, it is an eye-opening experience. I have never been one to focus on outward appearances, especially my own, but somehow that changes as you get older. My Mom, who is almost 80, still continues to diet and worries about fitting into her jeans. I always thought that once you got to be that age, who cares! I was planning on eating ice cream at every meal. So what happened? Why are these changes so disturbing?


Wait until you hit your 50's. I'm 52 and really noticing the signs of gravity. I hate that flubber round my middle - and I'm thin. Me as a person though, I'm quite happy with. I love the woman I've become. There are a couple of things I don't like about myself, but hey, I have to have something to work on over the next lot of years!

The confetti of autumn. Very apt. Love it.


I have spent the past 15 years or so working emotionally, physically and spiritually, NOT to be like my mother. My mother was and still is at 68, a stunning....and I mean...stunning woman. Even with advancing age I cannot go anywhere without hearing...."your mother looks amazing." Yet, my mother is the most unhappy person I know. So much value was put on her exterior that she totally cannot handle losing her beauty to age. I never hear a positive word from her (despite the fact that she STILL fits into her clothes from 20 years ago. Her favorite statement is "getting old ain't for sissies." As much as I agree with her, I just refuse to watch my life tick away because I am not as youthful as I used to be. I look in the mirror and despite the fact that I have gained weight, I still see a pretty woman who just happens to be in her late 40's. I would like to lose weight,,continue trying , cut don't obsess on it. I work out, because it makes me feel good and look better. Talk to me 20 years ago, and any physical beauty I had was accompanied with poor self -esteem, smoking and never feeling good enough. I like myself better now.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Jan, we've been indoctrinated into thinking that thin is good for so long, that even us renegades have a heard time.

Brigit, I'm working on being okay with my body--but I'm still going to do the weight training. And I need not to read any more men's ads about women needing to be slender--and no soft spots--to even date them.

Gwen, I'd far rather sit with you at a diner in Queens--or Virginia--any day than your mother, of that I am sure. But, you know, you have been a great friend through all of your phases.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)