Friday, April 15, 2011

(Updated!) I Already Wear My Trousers Rolled (Because I’m Kind of Short)

How did I not notice this? I HAVE GONE SILVER. Or white. Or gray. Or something really old-sounding.

When I look in the mirror, to me it looks more or less the way it has for the past five years or so — that is, light brown faded to dishwater blond in front, white streak across the crown, medium brown in back with a few highlights thrown in to minimize the Belted Galloway look. But I came back from vacation recently and the photos, to my shock, revealed what I show you here:


I’m not sure I can explain how I missed this, except to say that I am not a person who spends a great deal of time on her hair. I learned to use a blow dryer in my thirties, and I still don’t know how to use a curling iron.

My grandmother went snow-white in her early 20’s, and I always hoped that would happen to me. It was so dramatic, and my hair was always so boring. So I was thrilled by the emergence of my white stripe. It awakens! But the rest remained a disappointment.

Oddly enough, I didn’t feel especially attractive until I reached 40. It wasn’t until then that I really settled into my face, and though my body wasn’t significantly different from when I was in my twenties, something changed to make me feel much more comfortable in my own skin. Maybe I got shaken up by the experience of losing and regaining my body with pregnancy? And there is no doubt that much (if not most) of attractiveness lies in how attractive you feel.

But now … I am in my (big reveal!) mid-forties, and I begin to notice the slide. A softening and settling. I’m trying to wrap my mind around it and adjust my self-image. I’m trying to resettle into my skin. And actually I’m starting to enjoy it. Well, the hair, anyway.

And I’m really glad I run.

Update: I am inspired by Anon to say: I would love everyone (especially women, but men too) to be able to brag on themselves, or at least to acknowledge what they have that they think looks good. (I did not actually mention what I like about my body in this post, but I certainly have elsewhere in this blog.) The better you feel about what you have, the more attractive you are, and that spreads happiness in general. So give it up, and don’t be shy: What do YOU rock?

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your hair? You are worried about your hair? That is so fixable. What is not fixable is your skin. It will betray you. I predict within the next 5-10 years!
LD

Jennifer said...

I have also had to settle into my own aging, and accept that my looks have changed. And while I try not to compare, I must say, that Dr. Mama (whom I know personally)is one of the most gorgeous women I know. She has absolutely flawless skin--the kind with no brown spots or crepe paperyness. Add the fantastic body, and she is preternaturally young looking. Wait, what was the point of this again? Oh yeah, it's hard to fade, but Dr. Mama has a way to go.
-Dar

Snickollet said...

I, too, feel more comfortable with my body as I age. It's liberating, isn't it?

bp said...

well...i noticed, with a lot of envy, your more silvery shades of blonde when i saw you in october. i think it is beautiful. xx bp

Anonymous said...

At 62, I have no problem with my graying hair --- actually, I think it's going to look better the more it gets white. My mom had great hair in her 70s, and that's where I'm headed, as far as I can tell.

What I'm really having trouble with is the crepe-y skin that gets more prominent with each year. I used to love sleeveless tops and dresses in the summer (what my 3-year-old granddaughter calls
"armpit" dresses), and my arms are pretty toned from yoga class. But I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to live in three-quarter length sleeves just to keep from being embarrassed by the wrinkles.

My word verification is "toroppig." Is that one of them there hybrid animals?

Anonymous said...

Ooops --- I forgot to sign my crepe-y skin/"toroppig" comment.

Jessie

r3 said...

OK DM, do you use sunscreen when you run? I try to, but I hate the fact that I can't really sweat well with sunscreen on. More specifically, I choose a zinc oxide formula (no chemicall-y ones) and it really blocks my pores and I wind up hotter and sweating less and then just chuck the sunscreen altogether. How do you prevent your skin from getting crepey with all the outdoor running exposure?

Anonymous said...

Do you know how narcissistic you sound when you blather on about how hot your body is, and how well you're aging?

DoctorMama said...

Yes! And since I AM narcissistic, it works for me.

DoctorMama said...

LD - no, I'm actually quite pleased about my hair - and I don't think it's a betrayal. As for my skin, I've had wrinkles for a while - too much frowning until the past couple of years.

Dar - aw shucks - go on! No, really, go on ... no, anyway, my skin is NOT good - oily! zitty!

Snick - liberating is a great word for it.

bp - I remember getting ready to be jealous of YOUR hair a few years ago when you had a couple of white ones and I could imagine your thick wild hair going white. Still jealous of the thickness, which I will never achieve.

Jessie - I know of the creeping of the crepe, but please don't sheath it - own it, don't let it own you. I bet you look awesome.

r3 - I try to be pretty good w sunscreen. I wash first, then use face sunscreen (not the zinc kind, it sweats off), then wash after with acne soap. Also a hat when the sun is high and bright. Still, you can spot the damage along the sides of my face.

And my real answer to Anon is, I wish you the ability to embrace and, yes, blather on about what you like about yourself. I bet you have some really nice features, crabbiness aside.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Mama, I started graying at 18 and now, 16 years later, I am about 50% gray. I'm African and my parents didn't start to gray until their late 50s. They don't understand me. Ha! What is new? I have more wrinkles than my mother too. I'm beginning to think they're Wraith and have fed on my youth.

Sherri

Ev said...

My first answer was "nothing. Nothing about my body rocks." And while it's true that 3 pregnancies in 4 years have caused me to become v dissatisfied about my flabbiness, dark eye circles, age spots, sagging boobs, it's my critical self image that makes me narcissistic. Because I know if I complain out loud, someone might justifiably hit me with a brick. To everyone else I look just fine. Love this post. It's helped me appreciate my body and what's it's done (3 kids! 4 years!) and what it is capable of. Thanks Doc Mama!

Anonymous said...

Call me Geeky. I am going to be 49 this year and aging is starting to hit me hard. I walk but I don't run, and that needs to change. I am also missing my yoga classs-the studio closed and I need to find a new one. Exercise really makes a difference in how I feel.

So that's the bad. Here's the good: although I do color my hair, I am blessed to have thick, beautiful naturally straight hair that holds a curl. I also have great eyes. (I had an eyelift a couple of years ago that was covered by insurance, because my droopy eye lids were affecting my vision.) I'm not a girly girl, but I do use Latisse--because I'm a natural strawberry blond I wouldn't have lashes otherwise. Having lashed makes my eyes look youthful.)

I've also worked at the same (inside) job for almost 27 years. Although I would have loved to have more leisure time, I've also been out of the sun. At this point in my life, I finally have great skin. My dermatologist told me in my 20's that one day I would be grateful to have my thick, oily skin. That day is finally here!

Anonymous said...

Well. I am not thrilled with my cancer-treatment-damaged body, but I'm very proud that I followed your advice and for the last five months have been running every other day. At first I couldn't even get around the block, but now I can go three miles! I'm not fast and I don't make it look easy, but it makes me feel strong and capable again, which is hard after surgeries and chemo. (Bra? don't need no steeenkin' bra...) The oncologist is pleased with me - it'll help my bones. So thanks - wouldn't have even thought of it without this blog.

- Anon from Texas

lisa said...

well: I'm 49, and white-haired, which I think is awesome. Also, since I'm single, it is an instant jerk eliminator: true jerks don't go out with white haired women, they want blonde 20-somethings. It takes the worst of them immediately out of the running.

But: I'm strong, and capable, and I have an awesome dog that I trained, 4 wonderful children and a grandbaby, and I can either save your life or take it.

Life is good, actually.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, you remind me of Dame Helen Mirren in those pics...very regal!

Elizabeth said...

I love the way you responded to anonymous. As a culture, we hate women loving themselves, especially as they age. Screw modesty.

I like my body. I feel lucky to have inherited genes from my mom's slim family. As a kid, I always felt too skinny. But as I've aged I've grown into my body and now it's nice to be slim but not stick-like. But whatever her size and shape, I think every woman should try to love what's she's got. There are men (and women) out there who will dig your bod, whatever shape it is. Why shouldn't you dig it, too?

And I also agree with your advice to Jessie - rock those sleeveless tops. They look good on you (and I should know! ;)

Elizabeth said...

(Also, love the Prufrock reference. Go eat a peach.)

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Narcissism? In a personal blog?
Isn't that the whole point?

I did not feel attractive until my thirties and after having children either. I ran cross country in high school and probably had a smoking hot body but failed to appreciate what I had when I had it. Oh well.

I like my arms and shoulders. I have nice, broad straight shoulders and I like the way my skin has begun to sink in around my collar bone. I've always liked the way that looks on "mature" women.

And I definitely like my body more now that I have been running consistently since I found your blog three years ago.

Jennifer said...

P.S. My hair is turning white but I dye it. I can deal with the wrinkles but I am not ready for white hair.

DoctorMama said...

Sherri – I was sure my mom would disapprove of my hair too, since she still dyes hers, but she was all for it. Maybe she likes looking younger than her daughter …

Ev – “it's my critical self image that makes me narcissistic” — what a wise observation. I am going to remember that one.

Geeky – Yes! You do need to run! But NOT because you look bad. And: envious of thick hair.

Anon from Texas– “Bra? don't need no steeenkin' bra...” Woot! You DEFINITELY rock.

lisa – White hair as an instant jerk-eliminator? I love it! (Also “I can either save your life or take it.” Have to borrow that sometime.)

Anon (the kind one) – I crave Helen Mirren’s hair!

E – “Screw modesty” — THANK you. (And I have just always always loved that poem.)

Jennifer – “I definitely like my body more now that I have been running consistently since I found your blog three years ago”? I am beaming.

Life in vet school said...

I'm so sad that I wasted so much time agonizing about my physical flaws when I was a teenager and 20-something and was basically perfect!!! I spent years not wearing a swimsuit or shorts in public since I thought I had fat legs, and now I think if I had the body now that I had then, I would wear a bikini EVERYWHERE! I would go to WORK in a bikini! :)

But even now, years older with cellulite and probably-soon-to-be stretch marks, I appreciate that I have GREAT abs (they better come back once I have this baby!), gorgeous back musculature, and great arms. And when I'm willing to spend 20 minutes setting my hair on curlers before bed, I can have amazing curly hair for a couple of days. :)

r3 said...

OK, one more fluffy question--what sunscreen do you use?

r3 said...

OK, If I tell you what I rock, as per your request, will you tell me what sunscreen you use? I live in the southeast and the rays are dastardly.

I rock: great legs (no ass tho), nice height, a funny youthful-ish rubbery face that can change from silly to beautiful to fierce all within nanoseconds.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading since December when I was inspired to start running in Chicago outside for 30 minutes every other day and am absolutely loving how it has transformed my life and I'm not sure I would have gotten there had I not found you! So Thank You! I think we all need good role models in our lives, so many of us juggle many hats and its important to make the time to take care of ourselves both physically and emotionally! I did a lot of work with teen girls helping them with self esteem issues when I was in college and I'll never forget on a retreat having this circle of lovely girls say something they loved about themselves and receive a compliment from all the other girls. So in that spirit, I love that I feel powerful and strong when i move my body, I love looking at my strong legs when passing by a window on a run! I love my shoulders and arms when they move in Zumba! I have beautiful eyes and a great head of hair that does whatever I want it too! Most of the time I feel beautiful and confident and when I don't I spend some time with my beautiful friends and they help me to see the beauty in me.....
Oh and poo on Anon:)
ENG

DoctorMama said...

r3 - ha! I wasn't holding out on you, but I'm glad you were inspired to share. Truth is, I don't really like any sunscreens. Hate the smell and the feel. Seems like I usually buy one of the Neutrogena ones meant for the face because they're not super expensive -- but I know several people who get rashes from Neutrogena stuff. I just make sure to use the non-baby stuff on my face, because it's greasy and it melts/sweats off. Anyone have any better recommendations?

Awesome, ENG!!

Praxidike said...

I have really, really great legs and a great ass. And I have great hair - naturally wavy, dark blonde, holds a curl AND goes straight if I want it to.

aibee said...

The best sunblock I've ever used is a good mineral make up. Jane Iredale has probably been THE best, expensive though so now use a cheaper one, (Nude By Nature) and that does a great job too.

It's not greasy, it doesn't melt off into your eyes, and your skin won't clog up and get all zitty.

The Jane Iredale one has an SPF of 17 I think, and the one I use now has no SPF rating at all. I layer more on if I'm going to be out in the sun, and I SWEAR my skin gets less sun than if I'd used a high SPF sunblock.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Mama, Help! I am trying to take up running again after an 18 months hiatus (horrible emergency c-section after 4 months of bedrest = no ability or motivation till now). I used to run 4 miles 2 or 3 times a week. I ran for 15 minutes today and experienced a horrible burning sensation at the very back of my throat/ top of my lungs along with a taste like blood. It started about 3 minutes into the run and lasted till 10 minutes after. WHAT is this? (I remember something similar when I first ran track in high school, but I've been fine for 20 years.) Less worrisome, but still v. irritating: I had cramps up and down my whole abdominal wall from breasts to groin and a special burning feeling up and down from the incision site. Words of encouragement? I am a very slim healthy weight, I am apparently just made of mush...

-Anne

theAlmostRunner said...

just found your blog and i love it! this is a beautiful post! as is your hair.

Anonymous said...

I have beautiful legs and really spectacular ankles. -victoria

Anonymous said...

Oh wait, can you please remove my comment? I notice that no one else boasted about what they like about their bodies and now I feel like an idiot. Thanks, Dr. M. -victoria

winecat said...

Oh my eyes truly rock. Not brown, not hazel, not green but some combination there of. I've also been told by make-up people that they're indentical. I LOVE my eyes

r3 said...

Hi DM,
If you have the time/impetus, would you comment (on your own site) on this blogger's discussion of grad school: ponzi scheme or investment? Especially since you are a researcher MD. http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/05/09/what-you-can-do-instead-of-grad-school/

The blogger's followup commentary on NPR is also interesting: http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2011/05/09/grad-school/

Ozma said...

Yeah. I'm having a mid-life crisis. Sometimes I console myself by thinking I can somehow get it all back. Hah! But now that I read this I realize--ah, forget it. You're a much cleaner living woman than I and if it's happening to you, it's hopeless.

Ozma said...

Oh, whoops. I should have said why I rock.

Well, although I am very overweight and old I have great shoulders and very little cellulite.

It's sort of like how I'm so neurotic and yet have a good job and am happily married. I pride myself on overcoming challenges.