Last week, we went to the pet store to get some fish. Due to an unfortunate tank-cleaning mishap, we lost a couple of fish, and once the appropriate mourning period had passed, we decided to get some catfish.
The pet store lady was busy trying to talk a guy out of buying goldfish for his small tank, so we had some time to watch the fish. There was another woman there with her little boy, who could not have been more than two. He was very into any fish that had any red markings. He dug red fish. And he was not shy about telling me or Z about the cool red fish.
The clerk finally convinced the guy he wanted something smaller for his tank, and while he considered his options, she came over to ask us what we were looking for. We showed her the fish we were interested in, and she went off to get a net.
Z and Scott and I began discussing the vagaries of catfish, the need for algae pellets … and I noticed that there was a small hand resting next to my knee. The hand on the leg thing was a familiar sensation, so it took me a minute to realize that it’s actually been about six or seven years since I’ve had a child of the size that would allow for that.
I glanced down to see our little red-fish friend. I assumed that he just didn’t realize the lady he was touching wasn’t his mom, and I didn’t want to scare the little guy, so I smiled and said, “Hey, buddy …”
And he looked up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me back over to the farthest fish tank on the wall, to show me the super cool all-red fish contained within.
His mom was very apologetic. “He’s very friendly,” she said.
I told her it was fine. It was fine. He was a cute kid, and it’s been a long time since a tiny boy has pulled me over to show me something super cool!
So I’m letting my hair grow out to its natural color. Which is … I dunno, dark blonde or brown? It’s been forever since I saw it. BUT. It is also a whole lot of gray.
I got my first gray hair at 19. I always swore that when all of it went, I’d quit dying it. Just go natural. This year, I felt that it was finally gray enough to at least let it come in and see how I liked it. So far, so good; we’ll see how it progresses.
And I read this article in Time this week about the body positivity movement, and how it apparently has a gap–GenX women aren’t really represented in it. Although the author mentions that it sort of ramps back up when women are 70 or so? And I’m pretty sure that means there’s a portion of Boomer women being left out, too? One way or the other, though, my cohort is more or less being forgotten on the “love and accept yourself for who you are” train (we’re GenX; we’re used to it), apparently.
I have back and forth feelings on this. Like, does being 45 mean that I can’t look at a younger woman in a body positivity IG post and feel inspired? That seems stupid. On the other hand, aging and the body changes it brings is wack. But in other ways aging is kind of amazing, and I’d love to see a changing conversation around that. I know a lot of women who are afraid to get old. Turning 30, then 40, then 50 are times of mourning. I do it, too–staring down 45 was uncomfortable as hell; part of that was OH MY GOD I AM OLD. I HAVE EXACTLY NOTHING TOGETHER. (Part of it was I have not accomplished enough! I am a failure! But that is a different, if related, topic.).
But but but. I don’t think I want to be 25 again, or even 35. I’ve worked hard to get what little bit of together I am. The ways in which I like myself have quite a lot to do with how old I am–I’ve got a certain amount of perspective, and that comes from experience and, you know, therapy. :)
Anyway. I posted a photo of my graying hair on Facebook. I just said the gray was coming in–it didn’t actually occur to me to say I’m growing it out purposely. And people commented that I looked great even with gray hair, or that it was silver, not gray.
Look, I feel very lucky to be surrounded by women who reinforce how gorgeous I am, because we all need that. But I couldn’t help but consider how different the comments were when I posted, say, a selfie with a new dye job. I’m sure this was due in part to my not specifying that the gray hair is deliberate, but still: the assumption was that it’s not. That’s not a call-out, just an observation; I’m not entirely sure if this is a problem– maybe it’s a solution in progress. We’re at this point of women supporting and complimenting each other despite the aging or our not-perfect bodies; maybe now we’ll move to a new phase of … celebration of them? Good-natured and fond exasperation with them? I dunno.