Some time ago I read an article about what happens to a woman’s body during her 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. I can’t recall if it the article was in a fitness magazine or a vanity magazine, but by the time I finished reading it – it was in the trash. This was not a simple one page brief description of the changes that take place over the decades, but it was a full six page layout of what changes take place, in what seemed like a day by day review. It almost seemed as if the writer was an announcer at a horse race, “Coming up on her late 20s is Miss Adorable – freckling and squinting with the epidermis showing signs of aging … — Closing in on her 30s is Miss Who Am I – Lacking collagen and losing luster with sagging cellulite and definite derriere deterioration … — Rounding the bend is Miss What Happened to Me – Age spotting and gray hair-plucking with low hovering hormones … Closing in on the finish line is Miss fantastic 50s …
I read and re-read this six page article as if it was, “Good Night Moon,” and I was reading to it to a two year-old who didn’t get it. I was shocked to learn that collagen deterioration began in my 20s and women who put off having babies past 26 might just end up childless. From the way this hormone information was presented, once I reached the age of 26 I only had 2 zillion eggs remaining in my ovaries and God knows that’s not nearly enough to conceive a family of 2.4 children! Other than the hormone depletion, my skin would begin to lose its elasticity in my 20s – which I really never knew my skin had until this day of reckoning.
If I wasn’t depressed enough at the end of my 20s in the story, I turned the page and found my 30s to be much worse. My hair was changing texture, my skin was losing its sheen and hormones might even be causing blemishes. What kind of cruel joke was this? Zits belonged to teenagers – not a woman in her 30s! To make matters worse, there was an outstanding description of cellulite which completely disturbed yet intrigued me. As I like to say, much like a train crash, I couldn’t turn away. I learned cellulite had something to do with fat cells and something-or-other. Unfortunately, after I saw the words, “fat cells,” I didn’t retain anything else I read.
The most depressing portion of the story was indeed the 40s. Ironically I’ve always felt really good about my 40s – but since I read this story, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe (or butt cheek) to drop. The 40s section of the article was, by far, the longest. Apparently there are so many changes that take place during this decade that it took several pages (and pictures) to cover them. Let me say, these are not simple, non-eventful changes either – they are more like, “What the hell is that?” kind of changes and they made me want to run to my doctor and ask for an anti-depressant.
This six page twisted tale went on to tell me that my hair would begin to turn gray in my 40s – possibly up to 40% of it. This was pretty sobering to read in black and white but even more disturbing was that I would be lucky if that’s all it did was turn gray, because many women experience hair thinning during the 40s! After I cleaned up the coffee that I choked on and spit all over the table, I re-read the last sentence. Seriously – could I go bald? Could I end up like the nice little old lady I saw last weekend at the grocery with the hair dye painted directly onto her scalp? Sweet fancy Moses!
After that I almost didn’t have the guts to continue with body parts lower than my head, but at that point – as if it mattered? I learned exciting facts like my rib cage could expand (outwardly) up to four inches, and my hips could expand up to seven inches as my skeletal structure continued to shrink. All the while, during this balding, expanding, shrinking experience, my “hoo-hah” would be drying up from hormone extinction and massive wrinkles would eventually make their way onto my face like a fine linen shirt after a transatlantic flight. As if these horrid facts weren’t depressing enough, I found out that my feet might grow, presumably from the additional weight they would have to haul around because my non-existent hormones would be confused as to whether I was a woman or man after my 40s which could result in a possible spare tire around the middle.
Yes, I was pretty excited after reading this little gem. I was only 44 at the time and stood in front of the mirror trying to picture four more inches on my rib cage and seven more inches on my hips. Of course I was in denial so I reasoned that I would continue to dye my not-yet thinning hair to fight off the 40% gray factor – problem solved. Personally I didn’t believe that I would fall victim to the ribs and hips phenomenon, and literally said out loud, “Naah.”
Next I looked down at my feet and wondered about the expanding foot size in the event that I should “gain a few.” Suddenly for the first time since I picked up this magazine I felt a glimmer of hope as I thought to myself, “Hmmm – new shoes!”
© Shelli Netko