aging, amy schumer, anne bancroft, botox, clark gable, david bowie, death denial, hot flashes, lady sylvia ashley, menopause, mrs. robinson, peri-menopausal, the graduate, viagra, women's expiration date, youth culture
Clark Gable & Lady Sylvia Ashley on their honeymoon aboard S.S. Lurline, 1949
“Turn and face the strange changes...” –David Bowie
I can no longer deny it: I am experiencing shifts in my body. At the risk of being ostracized, I’m going to use the “M word.” I am peri-menopausal. There. I said it. I’ve been feeling like an irritable narcoleptic with early onset Alzheimer’s and hot flashes like mild anxiety attacks coupled with a sudden high fever. And I’ve got it easy compared to some women.
In our youth culture, to be labeled such is the “kiss of death” and I’m encountering quite a bit of shame in women around this issue. Why does society deem us no longer valid or sexy or fascinating just because we can’t bear children? Seriously? It seems we have an expiration date.
Comedian Amy Schumer recently did a skit called “The Last F#*kable Day” that addresses this strange phenomenon. In it, a small group of Hollywood actresses are gathered to celebrate the expiration date of a fifty-something and some ridiculous truths are exposed. The character of Mrs. Robinson from the movie The Graduate was played by Anne Bancroft at a mere thirty-six years of age! And in our pop culture, she has become the quintessential older woman!!!
Sylvia never let age stand in her way. She was in her forties when she snared the most eligible bachelor of the day, Clark Gable. She was in her fifties when she married her fifth husband, a Georgian prince. And she continued to be the life of parties, traveling the world well into her seventies. Coo coo ka choo!
Every woman knows how distasteful the average man finds “female problems.” How their eyes glaze over when a gal tries to express her experience–whether physically or emotionally. And yet the fairer sex usually exhibits a high level of compassion when it comes to men’s issues. We women don’t exactly enjoy the effects of male pattern baldness or Viagra ads featuring sexy women discussing penile dysfunction. But there it is. We all grow older. And eventually we die.
Our culture has such an odd denial of aging and death. As if ANYONE gets out of here alive! Why can’t we simply face the inevitable decline of the body? Why do we have such shame around the natural aging process? It seems to me a little honesty and humor would serve us far better. Please pass the Botox.