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Listener Mail: How Do I Age Gracefully?

Erin: Welcome to Hotter Than Ever Listener Mail. I'm your host, Erin Keating. And in these new short weekly episodes, I give you my opinionated and not at all officially qualified feedback about the questions, problems, quandaries, and dilemmas that you have posed to me about love, sex, relationships, career, aging, ambition, divorce, and anything else that is on your mind.

Today, I have a question about beauty and aging Rose age 51 writes in:

"I'm wondering how you balance the process of aging gracefully. How much energy do you put into the physical aspects of maintaining a youthful appearance versus stepping into the grace of elderhood and being a model of wisdom and dignity for paramenopausal and menopausal women?"

Rose, I think we're all thinking about this. I think we're all thinking about this. We're looking at our [00:01:00] faces. We're looking at our bodies. We're looking at the society we live in and the social expectations around beauty and appearance for women. And we're going, how do I manage this? How do I manage aging?

And my question is: what is important to you, what makes you feel the best version of yourself? I think that's where we have to come from in this. I think your question poses something as a dichotomy that is actually not a dichotomy. I don't think it's contradictory. To put energy and focus into paying attention to your appearance in such a way that indicates that you have made an effort, versus stepping into the grace of elderhood and being a model of wisdom and dignity.

I do not think those things are contradictory and I think that is an outdated notion [00:02:00] of elderhood. So what I recommend people ask themselves is what makes you feel like the best version of you? If you can live out what you believe the best version of you is, that is stepping into the grace of elderhood.

I don't think you need to have long gray hair and flowing scarves. Whatever this like image of a maternal village elder, who's wise and worldly, I think we need to revise our imagery of what elderhood looks like to include a wider range of models. Because I think it can be wise and have dignity and be a model of those things for paramenopausal and menopausal women. You can make yourself any version of a menopausal or perimenopausal woman that [00:03:00] feels right to you.

So for me, I do a lot of maintenance. I do my hair color. I get Botox. Sometimes I get filler to mixed effects. I do Pilates twice a week. I get my nails done. I dress really cute. What I think is cute. I present myself to the degree that I can afford these services at any given time. I present myself in a way that makes me feel attractive, that makes me feel like I'm putting the best version of myself out there into the world.

If the best version of you. Has grown out gray hair and Merrill sneakers and a Patagonia vest, like the fully empowered and self embracing women I've seen in Berkeley and in Portland, fucking a be that person own that. If that [00:04:00] is the best version of you for your forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, then you do that version of you.

I think the thing that models elderhood is women pleasing themselves. And also asking ourselves questions about if we are maintaining ourselves physically in a certain way for social acceptability, do you care about being acceptable to the people whose codes you are following?

So, do you think you won't be able to date iff you don't maintain yourself in a certain way? Do you think you won't be hired if you don't maintain yourself in a certain way? Do you think you will not be accepted? Do you think you'll be ignored? Do you think you'll be invisible if you stop dyeing your hair? I think you probably won't be. I think it's all an inside job. I think it's about how you feel about the [00:05:00] image that you are putting out into the world.

That seems to be the most important thing. And obviously, different corners of the culture are amenable to different choices. So if you are a woman working in marketing for a huge multinational corporation that is all about slick imagery and the visuals, then you are going to strive to make a certain visual impact, potentially. Right? You will be invested in mapping your appearance to your career.

Maybe, maybe, maybe not. Maybe that's not your game. Maybe you'll be like, I'm the woman with the natural gray hair and the no makeup and I'm such an incredible marketer that I'm going to show up looking fully myself. And this is my brand. And this is what I'm putting out into the world.

You know, it's also possible to change your mind [00:06:00] about these things, right? When I was young, I was like, I would never get plastic surgery. I would never do Botox. I would never, you know. As I have aged, my perception of that has changed. My perception is I'm going to do as much as I feel comfortable with that helps me present myself in a way that makes me feel vital and attractive to myself.

I want to feel sexy and attractive. I want to be sparkly. I'm the girl who wears animal prints. It's taken me a long fucking time to own that. I don't want to be that cheesy girl. Guess what? I am. That's who I am. I'm also five foot 10 and I wear platform shoes. I just want to enjoy my appearance and I want to enjoy presenting myself in a certain way and I like attention. There's nothing wrong with any of this.

I've often made the joke that if you're wearing Eileen Fisher, you've decided you're unfuckable. I don't know that that's true. [00:07:00] She does have some cute things. But that to me is like, I want to dress in such a way that makes me feel attractive. And now Eileen Fisher fans, please don't, don't come after me. Wouldn't that be so funny? There's like an army of Eileen Fisher fans who were like, well, I think she's very practical. Of course, she's a very practical choice.

This is maybe a good segue into the second question that was sent in on this topic by anonymous. Anonymous asks:

"I'm curious what gals our age are feeling about Botox and plastic surgery, like Do I want Botox and a boob lift? I do. But then again, I'm into aging naturally. Also, what about letting my hair go gray? Why do I have such an issue with this? Age is all over me. My body is telling. What am I holding on to? And why can't I embrace it?"

What are you holding on to? [00:08:00] We are all aging. We are all headed in one direction. The question is How are you going to be okay with you in this given moment? Now, I know people who have a full head of gray hair and they have to dye it if they want to keep it dark and they don't want to show the gray, they have to dye it every four weeks, every three weeks to not have the white roots show.

That's a lot of work. That's a lot of money. That's a lot of dedication. And I have seen people decide after many, many, many years of doing that maintenance to opt out of that and to own their gray. And I think those are the women who have the most fabulous gray hair. Honestly, if you have so much gray or it's white, fucking try it, try it. I bet you look hotter than ever. [00:09:00] I really do.

One woman that I know fully silver hair. It's funny she used to have brown hair when she was young. Now I'm like, cannot stop looking at her on social media because her sex appeal is so amplified by the silver hair. Now, if you think that I'm just saying that because I'm a woman and I'm interested in celebrating other women, that may be partially true. But the way she owns it, the way she puts it out there, you could tell her energy and vitality. It's like, Oh yeah, this is just the magical hair that I have. I don't give a fuck what you think. I like it.

The gray is a challenge. The gray is a challenge. I fight the gray and I probably will fight the gray until the day I die. That is what the women in my family do. We never give up on being blonde. And sometimes blonde is a good [00:10:00] smokescreen for gray. As far as Botox and plastic surgery go. I think you got to look at it to the degree that it is going to make a meaningful impact in your life and how you feel when you look in the mirror.

Everything's an option. Everything's on the table. If you can afford it and you find somebody good, fantastic. If you can't imagine putting needles in your face in order to get rid of wrinkles, then don't do it. Don't do it. I personally have never had plastic surgery, but it's not off the table. It's not, everything is on the table because I change. And so do you, you evolve, you grow, you change your perception. You may be someone who had plastic surgery when you were young and you would never do it again. I don't know. I think at the end of the day, it's about what makes you feel like the [00:11:00] most you. What makes you feel like the version of you that you want to put out into the world?

I think you look hot either way. What I see when you sparkle is your self love and your self care and you're making your own decisions for yourself about how this half of your life is gonna go and that my friends hot.

Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever Listener Mail. How can you ask a question? I'm so glad you asked! DM us @hotterthaneverpod on Instagram or leave me a voicemail or text the Hotter Than Ever Hottie Hotline at 323-844-2303. That number again is 323-844-2303. I have gotten texts and voicemails from you guys. I am so grateful to hear from you. It's so exciting. Every time another [00:12:00] question comes in, keep them coming.

Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Gerard and podcast productions. Our associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating Isa Fernandez.

This has been Listener Mail.


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