You’re a grown-ass woman. And what’s weird is that despite firmly being a grown up, you’re still doing growing. Or shifting, at least. Things are changing. It was sort of implied during all those “your body is changing” puberty talks that once you reached womanhood things would chill out. That it was changing now but soon, soon, your period would settle and your skin would calm down and you’d be left with your adult’s body which you would learn how to dress and which nighttime facial regimens to use and when it was a good time, monthly, to exercise versus a time when it really was the Ultimate Need of your Grown Body to sit on the couch and feel feelings instead.
What the hell, right?
Puberty happened, and big changes occurred (hello, breasts, and welcome), but honestly the changes have not really slowed down now that I don’t wear a retainer at night. Different things keep happening all the time—some of it good, some of it bad, some of it “how come I weigh the same but now my jeans fit… wrong”—and that is the process we are all committed to. Let’s count our greys together, shall we?
Your Teen Problems don’t really go away.
I was lead to believe—by Neutrogena commercials and Seventeen magazine and various “growing up to be a woman”-style informative videos—that upon reaching adulthood my Teen Problems would vanish. Goodbye to mood swings, to pulsing underground zits so large they deserved their own area codes, to irregular periods and malfunctioning tampons and everything else that could be classified as a YM Moment. Well, this has turned out to be a bigger sham than the Easy Bake Oven (the little pink trays full of goo those things produced were NOT cakes and I will not have you tell me they were). As you age you still have to deal with PMS, bra mishaps, and a slew of other uncomfortable body problems, only this time you’ll have rent to pay and you’ll be slightly drunk.
Your body is definitely just going to be… worse.
I don’t mean it will look worse, there are absolutely no legitimate standards by which to judge how good or bad a body looks, but over time it will get worse at doing its job. Think about what happened to the family van. When you first got it it was shiny and new and fast, and then as it got used, it got… well, used. Now the left window won’t roll down and there’s a constant, faint-yet-pervasive smell of milk from that time you spilled a latte down the front vents. This is your body. As of last year, when it’s damp outside, I get a disgusting itchy patch on my right elbow. A friend has to constantly monitor an intrepid crop of thick black chin hairs. Another wears braces on both knees when she runs. Things are breaking down. It feels too early, but them’s the facts. The other day I threw my back out making a green smoothie. Frailty, thy name is blender.
Gravity is REAL, and it is not to be fucked with.
Virtually every woman I know over 25 (and 100000% of those above 30) has had a discussion with me about how their boobs are just “heavy” now. Heavy. Not sagging, not really. It’s not a desperate droop like we pictured. They’re just softly parting ways and taking up more space than ever. They hang different. They hang, period. Butts shift shape, arms do that mom-arms thing, and I have to stand up and walk around on airplanes now. That’s me in the enclave by the bathroom, just stretching away and adjusting my bra. #thisis30
There are upsides to this process, promise.
You know that “take no shit” attitude old ladies have? What you may not realize, and what I had not realized until very recently, is that that attitude does not simply descend on you along with a fashion turban and a pair of flowing drawstring pants when you turn 65. Over time, as you become too tired to stay out late (this happens) and your tolerance for alcohol tops out at three reasonable glasses of wine (this happened) and work takes over and obligations pile up (not the nightmare it sounds, a stable career is great and obligations can be nice things like family events), your tolerance for bullshit begins to ebb away. First you’re not taking sexist garbage from strangers at bars but engaging the offending bro in a conversation about what feminism is trying to do, exactly. Then you’re not returning the calls of your Drama Friend. Then you’re speaking your mind when your boss overlooks you at work, again. Then all of a sudden it’s balls-to-the-wall THIS IS ME Facebook updates and you do NOT care if your family thinks they’re weird, THIS IS MEEEEEE! Life is short. Bullshit is tiring. You’re already tired, end of.
The alternative to aging is being dead so get on board.
My main beef with anti-aging creams, aside from the weird faux-gredients (Oxi-youth crystals? Lumineum particles?), is that they are operating under a false premise. You want to sell moisturizer? Fine. You want to sell fear of the basic processes of life? Get a grip. As long as you’re living, you’re getting older. You can take care of yourself with a healthy diet and exercise and by cultivating happiness and positivity—and, okay, face creams and sunscreens and the like—but none of that is anti-aging. It’s pro-health and pro-longevity. If you get a nice, long, life you are going to be HELLA aged. And that’s a good thing. I get that it can be annoying if your legs are giving you a hard time or you’re losing a battle against the slow yet persistent melding of your bikini line and regular leg hair, but really what is the alternative? Keep stretching in the back area of the plane and itching your weird elbow and know that it’s going to be fine. Wrinkles are not the thing to be scared of—dying without them is worse.
And on that unexpectedly heavy note from this generally pretty light’n’breezy column, I leave you to live your ongoing lives! Take that aging frame for a walk in the park! Soak your tired-ass feet in a nice bath. Have some sex with your heavy boobs out. All of the above! At once! It’s up to you.
Follow Monica on Twitter: @monicaheisey