I hate getting dressed.
I feel like some giant aging paper doll…where my job is to hook on more paper every year to cover up all the exposed parts. Parts perfectly acceptable thirty years ago.
I remember summers as a teen. My one piece sleeveless top and skort bottom. My friend and I would sit by the stream at the bottom of the yard and put mud all over our arms and legs and lie in the water and let is slowly wash away. I loved that feeling as the mud would move down my widespread arms…and disappear.
But no more, arms are out. Gravity has slowly ebbed it’s way in and formed a lumpy topographical map under the skin, from my shoulder to my elbow. If I hold my arms perpendicular to my trunk now, they form a hammock-like wing. Like a bat. and, at the edge of my underarms, a winglet of puff. Like chickens have. You’ll notice when u go to dress one for Sunday dinner.
I don’t think they even sell summer dresses anymore with sleeves. So, if I need a dress I have to get a sweater or shrug, which is a short sweater that doesn’t overlap your hips, or a drapy shawl to handle the cover-up. However the shawl thing is irritating and usually doesn’t work. It slips down into your wine or the teeny cocktail plate you’re manuvering. Cover ups, like in the cop movies, mean you’re hiding something. No one believes you’re cold on a hot, sticky summer evening.
There was a foreign film. Very sexy. Called “Claire’s Knee” with these sensual slow pans from Claire’s ankle to her knee. Claire was eighteen. I was smitten. But as we age, knees start expanding. Getting lumpy. My friend says they look like unbaked pies.
So you have to go the midi, not mini, route. Which, of course, you can’t find. Unless you go to a vintage store and then you have to be 5’2” and the size of Mitzi Gaynor.
Self tanner can help with the leg thing. It makes you look brown and toasty and covers the havoc underneath. But that comes with a price. You have to put on self tanner when you’re not busy. Or you’ll stick to things. Night is good, when you have the most time. You put it on really fast and all over. So you don’t end up with stripes. Then you walk around naked until it dries. Which is another unattractive look. The problem is that it’s nighttime and you want to lounge around and read a book or something, but u can’t because you will turn your chaise or your sheets or, god forbid, your husband, orange. So you hide in the bathroom and wait.
There is one company doing us a little good. And we have to give them credit. Spanx. However they’re like wrapping yourself really tightly in duct tape. Now, to their credit, they do hide the pouf below the waist and the ones on the sides which come, I’ve been told, from years of watching television. My sister said you can get spanx that start at the neckline and go to your ankle. I thought that if my size worked, a size smaller would be even better. Getting it on should have told me this was a bad idea. But instead, I took my tight sausage-like self, to a big dinner party and had to be taken out with the vapors.
Everybody talks about the neck thing…and never take a picture without casually holding it up. Fortunately the scarf is good for hiding this. And I like scarves. But tough in summer. Not only are they hot. They put you right in the category that brings terror to all of us. Matronly. Like you’re going to a summer luncheon of the DAR.
Why didn’t the suffragettes tell us about all this. What happens to women’s bodies. They must have noticed it. They were helping us with everything else. Did they ever feel invisible as women over fifty are made to feel today?
So now you have two general areas of exposed skin left. The face and the feet.
As far as the face goes, they say you should only accentuate one feature after 50. Or you look ghoulish. But which one. It’s hard to choose. If you pick the eyes you’re in luck. You can get mascara now to extend the lash and actually make them grow. Wow. Like a chia pet. And, there’s cream to depuff under the eyes. But I tried it on my husband’s eyes once and he looked like he’d been cast in “Beetlejuice”.
And feet? Mine have grown a size and a half since my children were born. I’m now a full size 11 inching towards a 12. Young, sexy heels? Are you kidding me? I went to Paris with a girlfriend last year. She’s a shopper. I gave up looking for clothes since all French women are half my size. So I thought I’d accessorize. Shoes. I went into my first shop and gently asked for a European size 42. There was a silence that followed. She was horrified. “oh madame. 42? Oh no, no, no.”
It goes on and on.
I ‘m beginning to think there is only one answer to all this. The berka. The berka is looking good. There’s a reason those middle eastern women aren’t free. They don’t want to be! They don’t want to be! They like it in there! Think of how much less we’d have to do if we wore berkas? Top to toe freedom! Whoa! Heck, you could even hide a small fan inside there when it gets really hot.
My question is, why do we do it? Embark on all this subterfuge? If we are moved by society into our invisible stage, why do we still try to cover, paste, erase? Causing ourselves hours of painful costuming and makeup. Hours of shopping for what’s not there. Hours futiley covering what can never be covered… the years.
Why do we bow to a society standard set for those under thirty, by those under thirty?
But we do. What has happened to our innate wisdom?
My grandmother would spend summer afternoons on her front stoop. In her sleeveless house dress and oxford tie shoes. No makeup, self-tanner, scarf. No hot, scratchy wool shrug. She was just there as she was. My grandmother. Drinking home brewed iced tea. Waving and calling to her neighbors. I wonder what she would have to say about all this. Hmmm.
You know, I bet she wasn’t sitting there in spanx.