09 May “Future You” Thinks You Look Hot
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 9.5.22
There are some glorious things about this business of getting older. Obviously, there is the satisfaction of Not Being Dead Yet which, looking back on some of the risks and choices you may have made at various points, can come with equal parts surprise and relief.
There is also the letting-go of our youthful anxieties. At some point, we stop worrying about things that really don’t matter and relax into being “who we are”.
Like many women who aren’t Elle Macpherson, I might have had issues once about not being Elle Macpherson. But once you’ve had a baby, collected various surgical scars and read about what’s happening in the Ukraine, being five-foot-two and shaped more like a cello than a flute seems small potatoes. And I like potatoes.
I’m never sure if this eventual self-acceptance is about being a grown-up and achieving genuine satisfaction or whether, after enough years raising kids and making a living, women my age get comfortable with ourselves because we’re just too tired to give a crap anymore. Whichever it is, it’s nice to be here.
Which is not to say I don’t sometimes wake up to a Bad Face Day. This is like a Bad Hair Day except the lack of springiness and volume is to do with stuff like jowls and eye bags, and cannot be easily resolved with a poof of dry shampoo and a hat. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m explaining it – you’ve either woken up to a Bad Face Day or you haven’t, and if it’s the latter I’m sorry to be the one to alert you to the phenomenon. May it never happen to you and I wish you all the best.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us, I have a Bad Face Day hack. It occurred to me while looking at old photos from back when I thought I looked haggard and lumpy, but now realise I was, in fact, pretty bloody gorgeous.
There is this remarkable thing we do in the present which is to focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves – early on it might have been pimples, a bad haircut, naff clothes, or not being as fit as we were trying to be. Simultaneously, we forget to be aware of the glorious things we have going for us. We can see this when we look back at old photos and all we can see is the youth and joy, the courage to wear that crazy thing, and the friends and adventures we were having.
In my 40s, I looked at photos taken in my twenties and wondered what on earth Previous Me had been so neurotic about – she looked fabulous! (I mean, with exceptions – there was a metallic bubble skirt we will not speak of.) My 40-something-self wished nostalgically for a little of her smooth skin and verve.
Now I look at the photos from my forties and again wonder what on earth she was worried about. I am surprised at how fit she looks – she often didn’t feel it – but there she is being adventurous and occasionally even a little bit glamorous, and I wonder why I didn’t always feel as good as that looks.
And so this is what I am attempting – to appreciate Current Me the way Future Me will when she looks back at this moment. The eye-twinkle, the wry grin, the great frock I love wearing, and the other people in the frame.