Monday, August 15, 2011


This weekend I had two different spirited conversations about some of the physical changes that have overtaken friends and myself because we have gracefully gained wisdom, perspective, and life experience. These are not changes as simple as lines or gray hair--which we knew were coming--this is about the part of aging physically that no one mentions, what I have come to call The Crone Factor.

Yes, "crone" has been a terrible perjorative used since medieval times to designate an old woman, which suggests in more than one definition not just "old" but "withered," "toothless," "cantakerous," and is synonymous with "hag" and "witch," both also transformed into perjorative words.

Some contemporary feminists are trying to redefine the word, give it a positive spin. Not working thus far, frankly, outside that small, hopeful community.

Here's the problem, as I see it. While 50 is the new 40 and all that, mostly we acknowledge that this is so because plastic surgeons and women in the media spotlight have used a combination of exercise, diet, airbrushing, and plastic surgery to make it all seem possible. Or in the case of some women, simply good genetic material.
Dame Mirren says it is all genes...
Make what possible? The denial of physical or outward aging. The suggestion that a woman can/should combine her depth of wisdom, life experience, and increased intellectual scope on producing a youthful exterior to package that aging intellect... to remain sexy, glamourous, and "vital" in a young-looking manner.

Here's what my friends and I--again, in two separate conversations--got talking about: support underwear, facial waxing, brown spots and warts and keratosis pilaris, and the changing quality of our hair (mine has suddenly decided to comes wavy, after four decades, and the few silver hairs are wiry, curly, and strong) and nails (thinner, thicker, ridges???). Decidely not glamourous... but real.

It feels at times as if the only alternative is the peeling, injections, dying, scraping, and sucking out and off the marks life leaves on us.

And then there's this:
I like this picture better: Dame Mirren

Dame Judi Densch

Maggie Smith

Maya Angelou

Meryl Streep: always smiling!

Shirley Chisholm

Isabel Allende
Madeleine Albright
The life in the eyes translates to life in the face, albeit not so pretty-pretty. Mature faces, mature bodies, mature minds. All of them sitting on bodies of work that amaze, delight, and impress.

Now I should tell you that Demi Moore and I are the same age. In my younger days I would have loved to have been able to rock this look so well --

But I am not a fan of her apparently relentless denial of the aging process.

1 comment:

  1. The Crone Factor - very descriptive! I don't want to be an old crone, but I also don't want to fall prey to the sad belief that we have to look young forever.

    It IS those untalked-about signs of age I have trouble with. Hair where?!?!?!

    I like the women you choose to highlight - who says older isn't beautiful?


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