I think I have Oldorexia
You’re probably scratching your head wondering what in the heck is Oldorexia. Well it’s a new word I have coined and it’s trademarked. It’s similar to anorexia, wherein an individual has a distorted view of their body shape and size. However, Oldorexia means you have a distorted view about how old you appear. For example, a fifty-year old woman is often told she looks like she’s in her forties, but in her mind she thinks she looks like she’s in her sixties. I’m on this topic because I recently turned another year older and I, like many Baby Boomers, am trying to adjust to my new look, if you will.
What’s my new look? It’s a mature look. It’s a look that says I’m a middle-aged woman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be alive, but in my head, I’m still in my thirties, and sometimes in my twenties. But when I see photos of myself, I get a rude awakening. The tight skinned, bright eyed young woman in my head looks nothing like the woman staring up at me with her droopy lids and sagging chin. Who is this woman? When I express my feelings about getting older, people are quick to say, “You look good.” “You’re not old.” “You’re beautiful.” So what are they seeing that I’m not? That’s why I say I have Oldorexia! My perception is distorted. Those wrinkles under my eyes when I smile are not there, the mushy skin on my chin is just my imagination, my turkey neck is an illusion, or is it?
Wow, this aging thing is no joke. My older aunts tried to warn me when I was in my twenties packing on the make-up. “Why are you trying to look older? You better hold onto your youth.” At the time I just shrugged, thinking that I would be young forever. That’s how it is when you’re in your twenties; you think you’ll never age. You look at women in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s with curiosity and sometimes pity as if they’re some alien beings who came here that way. No, they were in their 20s once, too and at the time I should have realized that one day I would be in my 30’s, 40’s and now 50’s.
I see my future every day and it’s a hard pill to swallow. The gray haired woman, sometimes stooped over, barely making it across the street. The woman clutching a walker as if her life depended on it, and in some cases it does. The woman with no teeth smiling though a face full of wrinkles. That’s my future. Sure, I may be lucky enough to be a spry old woman, but I’ll still be old—no longer able to hide behind make-up, photoshop, and soft lighting. I hope not to just be old, but graceful and grateful that God has blessed me with old age and maybe by then it won’t matter how old I look or think I look. I’ll just be glad to still be kicking!