June 10, 2010

Old Man Cactus

Every five weeks or so I go see a nice woman who cuts my hair. When it's all over I look down at the pile of gray hair and get a little depressed. Every five weeks I comment about this and every five weeks I get placated by but gray hair on men looks distinguished. And I agree. What I really want to say is bullshit, it looks old. But that would be rude.

In a prime example of just how old I'm getting, I actually had to ask Beth the other day if I was 36 or 37. Turns out I'm 37 and my 37 year-old memory sucks. Like my math skills.

Turn on any TV and it's immediately obvious that what we idealize are women with massive, perky boobs, nice asses, long legs and very little waist connecting the bits. And while a lot of very valid attention is paid to female stereotypes and the resulting body image issues, it's no less difficult for men. While we're assaulted with Victoria Secret women, we're also force-fed images of men who can bench-press small cars with their giant pecs or men who are strangely handsome despite the fact that they appear to be devoid of any sense of personal hygiene.

When I was a kid, I was skinny. I'm pretty sure that the you should eat a burger line didn't originate with anorexically-thin waif-like girls but teenage boys who were expected to be football players but had little interest. I got fucking tired of hearing that. And truth be told, my body hasn't really changed all that much in the last 20 years. If I gain a little weight - something that's easier for me to do now than it was in high school - I always get oh, you look good with a little weight on you which I find obnoxious.

So, long story short, body image issues aren't unique to women. And now, along with the gray hair, I'm starting to notice the toll age (and gravity) has taken on me. I seem to be developing a case of arthritis, the lines on my face are getting deeper and - I could just be imagining this but I don't think so - my stomach seems to be undergoing something of a growth spurt.

The differences are subtle but I'm an older looking and feeling person than I was when I started this site nearly seven years ago. But then that's how life goes and it's certainly better than the alternative.

How have you noticed age affecting you?

Posted by Chris at June 10, 2010 7:14 AM

Two words...Sean fucking Connery. Want more than that? Harrison Ford...*swoon*

Personally, I'm a huge fan of my skinny husband. Okay, yes, he's younger than me, but he's skinny and has hands the same size as mine. When he's home, I have no doubt about his ability to save the day if it were asked of him. He'd lift a small car - not because he's built like a brick shithouse, but because he loves his family.

Think about it. :)

Posted by: Holly Reynolds at June 10, 2010 7:42 AM

Gravity? Is totally kicking my ass.

Also, word on Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Seriously.

Posted by: Fraulein N at June 10, 2010 8:41 AM

I'm 41 with kids around the age of your kids. What I've noticed...

1) grey hair
2) taking longer to remember stuff
3) can no longer eat whatever I want

basically, the same stuff as you. Oh, and the cut-off age for which I find "kids" annoying has risen... it is somewhere around 27 or so now...

Posted by: Kaz at June 10, 2010 8:43 AM

I'm only 32 and it still surprises me whenever I do the math to figure out how old I am.

The women in my mother's family start to go grey in a very specific way.... they get a distinct area of grey on either the front left or front right of their hair. I'm starting to see that spot forming.

Posted by: Jaime at June 10, 2010 9:42 AM

Yep. We're the same age. Things hurt. I still go to the gym and run, but things pop and there's soreness for longer and nothing's as easy as it used to be. My hair is both going gray and falling out in trickles. I'd rather eat glass than try that Rogaine crap. I've done the research and it's primarily a product that appeals to men desperately trying to hang onto their vanity. The science is flimsy, at best, and the results are even flimsier. I'm willing to settle for whatever happens. It seems like the best course of action. Time is a fickle bitch and there's no use in fighting her.

On the other hand, I think I've actually improved in the looks department over time, so there's that.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 10, 2010 9:44 AM

Really? "it's no less difficult for men" I think it's less difficult for men. Sure there is societal pressure on both genders to be skinny, attractive, and young. But it's worse for women in our society.

And yes, I know this isn't the point of your post. But it struck me.

Posted by: Rachel at June 10, 2010 9:50 AM

It creeps up. My hair went from very blond to pure white without my noticing. I've shrunk to the point that I can't reach the top shelf at the supermarket and all those extra inches settled around my middle. And the energy usually has to be forced. I have a grandchild almost your age and a great-granddaughter starting her senior year of high school.

On the other hand I'm alive, reasonably sane as I've ever been, and I can still laugh at the idea of 30+ feeling old. I must have felt that way too I suppose.

Oh, and here I sit at a computer typing away. I'm a dinosaur but I do try to keep up somewhat.

Gray hair is distinguished, older men have cornered the market on sex appeal, and Mr. Universe is highly overrated.

Posted by: Ann Adams at June 10, 2010 10:17 AM

I turned 40 this year. I have no gray hair..no wrinkles. (Thank you genetics and old school pink oil of olay...and grandma for the o.o.o. tip.)

I'm always tired. I walk into rooms for a reason...get there and lose my reason for arriving.

But I did these things at age 22 too. The only real change...oddly my hands ache every morning when I wake up...too much keyboarding/texting I believe...but perhaps my hands are just getting *gasp* OLD??? The other change...I no longer have a toddler...I now am the mother of a 17 yr old son. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??????? OMG I'm old enough????

Posted by: Kristy at June 10, 2010 10:35 AM

Is it Body Image Thursday? ;)

Yes, I notice it. At 35, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in but no amount of running or lunges gets rid of my "laugh lines". Sigh.

Posted by: Angella at June 10, 2010 10:38 AM

I feel it. My feet ache every day. I am sure it has something to do with RA, but I am not sure. :)

Also, there is a lot of grey hair popping up.

I haven't really found but a couple of wrinkles thank God for small favors.

I, do have really poor body image. I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I am a err ahem "large woman". Nope, not at all. Has to do with all those skinny little models. Pathetic waifs.

Posted by: debb at June 10, 2010 10:49 AM

43 here. What I'm noticing is that I can take my body for granted anymore. Everything seems to be hitting my hips and middle.

My flat stomach that I took for granted all these years is gone. The physical changes I expected at some point, but mentally I wasn't prepared as I haven't handled it like I expected I would.

Since I'm such a relaxed gal and not a girly gal, I thought I would take this all in stride. I find that is far from the case. I feel like it is an assault on who I am and I am fighting it all.

My knees aren't holding up as well as I expected. All that wear and tear seems to be here.

My two cents is color your hair if and when it bothers you. I go every 4-5 weeks. But, I can see myself with white hair like Emmylou Harris someday.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at June 10, 2010 11:38 AM

I just turned 37 last week. I have noticed over the last year or so that I have zero flexibility. This leaves me feeling stiff and achy a lot. I am not as active as I used to be.

The grays have overtaken me, and apparently I have a flock of crows that stomp on my face while I sleep.


So, I have decided to color the grays. I do daily stretching exercises, and I am going for long walks almost daily. My first 5k is tomorrow. I will walk more than I will run, but it is a start.

I have cut out anything with HFCS in it, and I have cut back on meat consumption (something you do not need to worry about. Lucky!)and I am really amping up my veggie intake. I try not to eat anything from a can or a box.

I have a lot of weight to lose, and now is the time to do it, not when I am 60. Which, if the last 37 years are any indication, will be here before I know it.


Posted by: Jen at June 10, 2010 11:44 AM

Gray hair is incredibly sex on men! Some fine examples are the men above, but the best thing about Anderson Cooper is his hair.

I'm twenty six so I still haven't noticed much aging, but I did start finding gray hairs when I was still a teenager. Now they're starting to cover my head...

Posted by: Holly at June 10, 2010 12:18 PM

Complicated. I love me more now than I ever did in my 20's. But, here's the deal....I am walking around like I am still in my early 30's (mentally) but when I look in the mirror it never fails to shock me at what I see....a 46 year old me. I ran my first half marathon this year and 4 or 5 smaller races so I know I am physically stronger than I ever was but when I see the tissue paper skin and neck, crows feet, I just shudder....that isn't me!

Posted by: Debbie at June 10, 2010 12:29 PM

If you're feeling that much different with grey hair, get a temporary hair coloring kit and see if that perks you up. That's my secret. ;)

Posted by: Lisa at June 10, 2010 12:34 PM

I see it first with the deep lines on my face. I try to assure myself they are from smiling - they are in exactly the places that are affected by my smile - so, if anything, I say, welllllll... at least I'm smiling.

I stopped touching up the grays in my hair - but will likely start soon. That's the hardest thing for me. Gray hair.

And my metabolism is slowing down which means I have to work harder. And I was already working hard.

ANd now I'm bummed and want a cookie. Gee, thanks Chris. ;)

Posted by: sarah at June 10, 2010 1:14 PM

I've noticed a big difference in my ability to recall vocabulary and phrases. Not sure if it's age or the fact that a lot of my day is spent conversing with a 4 year old and a 2 year old. But I notice that I have a harder time writing blog entries that sound the way I want them to. I was a much better writer at 25 than I am at 30.
On the other hand, I'm a better photographer at 30 than I was at 25, so I compensate by filling my blog with pictures instead of words :)

Posted by: Amy at June 10, 2010 1:15 PM

I used to be able to out-eat anyone and gain zero ounce. Now, I might still be able to out-eat you but there are 5 lbs. coming to my ass. LOL.

Us Asians have extended warranty, first of all. LOL. Secondly, I've come to terms with my gray hair a long time ago as it's our family traits to gray early. However, we're blessed with good skin and therefore we age beautifully. Finally, I'm still 12 in my head. Does it matter how old your body get? :-D

Posted by: oakley at June 10, 2010 1:41 PM

A lot of the same... except I'm pretty fit. It just takes more effort to stay that way.

I think the most disheartening for me is the aging face. I don't like the deeper lines, the new skin tag here or there, or the way my eyes show my real age.

I do like it that my wife likes grey hair though. I'm headed that way for certain.

Posted by: Brad at June 10, 2010 2:51 PM

I found my first gray hair last week. I pulled it, not because it bothered me, but I wanted to make sure I knew what I was looking at. It wasn't a trick of the light or a little sun bleaching, it was the real deal. The exciting thing, to me, was that it appeared to have a bit of a curl. I have had perfectly straight hair all my life that has resisted perms, hot rollers, curling irons and Aqua Net. If my gray wants to come in and add a little body to this joint, I'm a-OK with that.

Otherwise, I don't think I look as old as I am and neither do my parents (thanks DNA!). I am 37 but people often guess me between 25-30. I'm sure the immaturity helps.

Posted by: Melissa at June 10, 2010 3:21 PM

Definitely with you on the aging thing. I've got a beard that is getting quite gray, and because of the amount of younger people in IT I'm seriously considering dying it to not look quite so "seasoned".

An interesting read is Erikson's stages of psychological development, which talks about the different stages adults go through; I'm finding a lot of truth in it, you may as well:

Posted by: metawizard at June 10, 2010 3:32 PM

I turn 35 next month. I have not been looking forward to 35 at all. I have felt so damn tired lately and if it is only going to get worse from here, I don't think I want to be a part of this whole getting old thing. I actually used the term "whippersnapper" in its appropriate context the other day, so it is official, I am farting dust.

Posted by: Jen at June 10, 2010 3:43 PM

I'm 36 and feel your pain. Just this past week, I had a few people ask me "Are you going to color your hair?" so it's clear that others are noticing the gray hairs that started to take over the underside of my hair a few years ago and are now quite visible. (My answer is no, by the way.) I also notice that my brother, who is just three years older, looks much older in the face than he did a couple of years ago (deep lines). That makes me almost feel older than my own aging because we've always looked so much alike that people think we're twins.

I also just got an e-mail from a dating site with the subject line "Dating in midlife." Am I really in midlife? Should I be having a midlife crisis?

Sigh. We're old. :-(

Posted by: Sandy at June 10, 2010 6:09 PM

Nothing turns me on more than when my husband, who has grey hair, slides his bifocals down on his nose. Your gray hair is probably getting more women hot than you can imagine. A 50% divorce rate - how many of us have daddy issues, do you think?

I'm 47, and while my body is the worst it has ever been, my body image is the best. Age has many advantages.

Posted by: TheQueen at June 10, 2010 6:11 PM

You know... I guess I've had a baby. I really big baby. Those abs can be flat sure, but they'll be covered in stretched out skin.

I feel old when I watch TV and realize I could have mothered some of those young people... amazing really.

Gray hair... I dye.

Posted by: Nat at June 10, 2010 6:31 PM

I'm 26 now, and one thing I have noticed is that my metabolism is starting to slow down. This girl can't live on McDonalds anymore, whereas when I was 18, I could eat whatever I wanted. I've gained like 30 pounds in the past year and while I look okay, I'd really like that to go away, and it's much harder to lose it now than it was before. I'm also sprouting a few gray hairs, but that started when I was 22. Then there are the lines starting to crop up around my eyes. Sigh.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 10, 2010 8:30 PM

Um, age is really affecting me psychologically - tomorrow is my 40th birthday and I really just want to ignore it.

Posted by: Heather at June 10, 2010 10:27 PM

I've dated dudes who were 6'4" and 135 lbs. I've dated guys who were on the football team. I think guys look the way they do, and each is interesting to look at. You and Beth are disgustingly good looking. Proof? Your disgustingly beautiful children.

I hate that I need two kinds of glasses. Thinking Lasik to halve the issue.

Posted by: alektra at June 11, 2010 12:19 AM

2 kids down and i feel like a tired old hag! and i used to be pretty darn cute if i can say so myself... those cute little parasites sucked everything i had apparently!

Posted by: kati at June 11, 2010 12:22 AM

I've been cutting my husband's hair since we've been together....20 years...yikes! His hair (and mine) sure have gotten the gray's, but....I don't have the heart to tell him that I'm seeing alot more "flesh" nowadays too! So gray is good....pink is not so good.

I'm 43 (with the brain of a 29 year old)....I still gasp when I look in the mirror and see an "older" person staring back at me! "Where the hell did she come from?"

Life is good.

Posted by: Lujza at June 11, 2010 12:42 AM

Ah, yeah! Like yesterday I woke up with Shrek Feet! (See today's blog entry!) I also noticed that while I shopped for flat sandals to put my feet into yesterday, there was a German TV show on for young woman to learn how to walk in super high heel shoes. Now there is just something wrong about that!
Fly home tomorrow and my commenting will get back to normal. Hi to Beth and the kids!

Posted by: Maribeth at June 11, 2010 1:51 AM

Grey hair on guys is so distinguished and sexy, so don't even give it a second thought!

And if it makes you feel any better regarding remembering what age you are; I can't remember how old I am either. I can remember how old my husband is, but if someone asks me how old I am, I actually have to mentally subtract 3 years from hubbys age to get my age. In fact, the only reason I know I have a milestone birthday next year is because my friends keep reminding me.

I don't have any wrinkles yet (blessed by good genetics). I started noticing grey hairs when I was 21. Actually, snow white to almost see-through is more accurate. Considering I have very dark hair, they stand out like sparkling beacons. My mom was completely grey by the time she was 37 so, um, yeah, really hoping that that will not be the case with me (hubby teases me constantly about it)!!!

I have a lot of old injuries that ache like a b*tch when it is cold, so I end up hobbling around like an old woman sometimes (and feeling it too!). I remember last winter I even struggled to walk up the stairs at work, while people 10 or more years older than me were jogging up - now that made me feel old!

Despite how my body feels at times though, in my head I am still 21, and probably will be for some time ;-)

Posted by: Delia at June 11, 2010 3:20 AM

I'm turning 40 this year. Do I need to say more?

Gray hair- I love it on guys. And as my husband says, "Gray is fine. Hair loss is not." Although, I think bald is sexy too. As for me turning gray, genetics. I has good ones in that regard.

The weight is a problem. The stiffness is rampant. And I can no longer tuck a leg under me when sitting because then I can barely walk.

Posted by: heidi at June 11, 2010 9:05 AM

Working on a bum knee. Noticing signs of too much sun in years past. Just had my gray covered for the first time yesterday...

Aging sucks.

On the other hand, it beats hell out of the alternative.

Posted by: K at June 11, 2010 11:22 AM

Age is affecting me by making my knees ache more and more each day (track injuries), wrinkles around my eye, my hands are looking older, it's getting harder to get weight off and a whole slew of other things. I'm only 31. My boyfriend is almost 33 and he gets more and more gray hair by the day along with wrinkles around the eyes. He hates it, I love it in a big way. I find it incredibly sexy and a turn on. Unfair. While men & women both have body issues, and issues with aging, men age much better.

Posted by: js at June 11, 2010 4:22 PM

There was an article in the NY Times last week about the topic of age and happiness. One study has determined that true happiness really pops up in life at age 50. I'm 35 - only 15 years left, baby! Not that I'm terribly unhappy now, but there is a heaping buttload of responsibilities I didn't have in my 20's - husband, kids, mortgage, unemployment/seeking job, home repairs, aging parents, etc. That's how I notice my age the most - the massive amounts of increased stress which triggers nightly teeth grinding (with the approximate force a starving alligator uses on a fat deer). Well, that and I found my very first gray hair. No one in my family goes gray - I took it as a very bad sign. The extra girth and junk in my trunk I don't attribute to age as much as my refusal to silence my sweet tooth. :)

Posted by: HollyB at June 11, 2010 5:03 PM

cant believe you posted about this today. i just had the same conversation with a friend. this morning while brushing my hair I found my first gray hair. im almost in my mid 30's and have never had a gray before. i realize it isnt a big deal but it kind of bothered me. all day. i thought if i made it this far maybe i would be one of the lucky ones who dont get gray. guess again. i def feel like im older. its harder for me to stay up late any more! i see pics of me from HS and now even i think i look like a baby. i feel like HS wasnt that long ago that but it was! i wish my current self could go back and educate my HS self on a lot of stuff! then maybe id feel better now! hahaha

Posted by: madmom at June 11, 2010 7:07 PM

One thing that is nice about turning 40 is you can actually remember how old you are. 36, 37, 38 - I had no frickin idea.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at June 11, 2010 11:44 PM

So I'm getting closer and closer to 40 - and aside from the tired eyes, pretty sure I'm looking better than I have for years. Got myself a kick-ass blonde haircut, lost 14kg in the last year (about 30lbs, I think?) and thanks to the years of breastfeeding, I finally have something to show off in a low-cut blouse.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed my first grey hair, but I just pulled that sucker out and pretended it never happened.

I reckon it's all about attitude. Decide what you can do with what you have, and go for it. My pretty-much-bald husband would love to have your head of hair, but he's always the funniest, most charming guy in the room, so no-one seems to notice :)

Posted by: Jo MacD at June 12, 2010 12:00 AM

People who tell you that gray hair on a man looks distinguished have it a little off. They should tell you that gray hair on a man is HOT HOT HOT!!

Age is catching up to me. I never used to ache when I was on the motorcycle all day. Now 400 miles and my legs are sore for days! Ugh!

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at June 13, 2010 1:20 AM

I would like to propose not to wait until you earn big sum of cash to order all you need! You can just get the mortgage loans or just financial loan and feel comfortable

Posted by: TateEthel30 at August 11, 2011 7:31 AM