Is there a point to life after 40?

2014-04-24 00:00

MY friend’s had a boob job. I don’t think that she needed it, but she clearly did and, thankfully for her, she’s thrilled with the results. As with many flat-chested women, when I was younger, I wouldn’t have minded having bigger boobs, and may have gone the boob-job route had we had extra money, on which there was nothing else we could possibly have spent it.

Now that I’m in my forties, the last thing I would do is get bigger breasts. I wouldn’t know what to do with them and there doesn’t seem to be much point now. Plastic surgery on the whole doesn’t seem to be worth the pain one has to go through. I’ve watched those no-holds-barred programmes on TV that show plastic surgery in all its gruesomeness — boob jobs, tummy tucks, nose jobs, face-lifts, even on parts that can’t be mentioned in a family newspaper. I know a middle-aged someone who had liposuction done on her thighs and stomach. She was black and blue for weeks and six months later had put on all the weight that was sucked out of her. So what was the point?

I must confess, however, that looking in the mirror the other day, attempting unsuccessfully to hide uneven skin tone and puffy under-eye bags, I thought to myself that just a small nip and tuck here and there might not be so bad to tighten some of the crêpey skin around the eyes or to fill in the frown lines that are now a permanent feature on my face, or perhaps even give my eyelids a little lift. Then I went back to what’s the point? There’s no hiding from my age, there’s no turning back the clock or pretending that the line-free, dewy face of my youth is not gone forever. My husband is grey and craggy, and our children think that we are both ancient — no amount of plastic surgery is going to change that, nor is it going to change the fact that I don’t sleep so well, I put on weight just glancing at a glass of wine and it takes two days to recover after a late-night party.

I tend to have those “what’s the point?” moments quite often these days. One of them came just last week, as I was going on my early morning run and not enjoying it one bit. It was dark, cold and I’m not as fit as I used to be as I’m trying to regain fitness lost due to numerous injuries which I never suffered from in my youth. “Why am I doing this?” I muttered, while dragging myself up a very steep hill. “I’m 40-something years old, surely I don’t need to be slim and svelte? Don’t I deserve to kick back and let myself go a bit? It’s a damn sight easier than this torture. Who cares if I’m a bit plump? Who’s looking at me anyway?”

My husband made the mistake once of suggesting that if I wanted to lose those extra kilograms that have crept up on me unnoticed that I should perhaps cut back on the Chardonnay.

“Oh lovely,” I snapped, “not only am I old and fat, but now I also have to give up the one pleasurable thing that keeps me sane.” A bit dramatic? He thought so.

Another moment came as I was putting on make-up. After stabbing myself in the eye twice with the mascara wand, I huffily asked my husband: “Do you even notice whether I wear make-up or not?” He just looked at me suspiciously and asked if it was a trick question. A “what’s the point” moment had me change facial creams from ones that cost the same as a small country’s foreign debt to the common or garden varieties found in any supermarkets. There didn’t seem to be any point in outlaying all that cash on creams and potions that really don’t do anything to stop the lines and creases. Clothes shopping also brings along those moments as the choice seems to be between clothes only teenaged bodies can wear or those that would be frumpy on my mother. What’s the point of spending money on clothes? It’s probably better to spend it on my daughter; she’s young, slim and many years away from a “what’s the point” moment. Besides, who cares what I look like anyway, so really what’s the point?

The point is, I care. I don’t want to be overweight, I want to be fit so that I can run up that hill easily, I want to be able to hop on a bicycle and ride 30 kilometres at a moment’s notice, and what’s make-up for if not to hide and highlight? The point is that it’s not other people’s opinions I care about, just that of the person I see in the mirror each day. The point is that 40-something is the new 30-something and, as a colleague once reminded me: I’m 40, not dead.

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