Aging Gracefully (Or Not): Looking young

Aging Gracefully (Or Not): Looking young

Natalie Gelman

On Facebook the other day, I saw a picture of my former sister-in-law that was taken recently. She is two years younger than me. She has always been beautiful and takes care of herself. I have not seen her in years.

When I looked at her picture, I thought that she looked exactly the same as she did 20 years ago. She did not appear to have aged at all. I wondered how my current appearance would compare to 20 years ago. I have not taken out any pictures to note whether there were changes or not.

I realize that comparing our looks as we get older is something that begins at a young age. Initially, it is done with the pleasure of seeing how we look older.

That changes. At some point - around mid-life - we no longer want to be changing physically with age. I have noted that older people are rarely referred to as attractive. I find myself using that word when I see a person who fits that description, but it seems to become a smaller number of people each year.

I feel sad about that. I liked being attractive.

I was working with a client who is 46 years old. He is having marital problems and his wife refuses to see anybody to address her issues. I had seen this man six times and he was moving in the direction of deciding to file for divorce. On the seventh visit, he came to see me a few days before going home to see his parents, who lived very far away. He wanted to tell them about his marital problems. During this visit, he told me that his parents were much older, unlike the two of us, referring to him and me. He said they were in their late 60s.

I am around the age of his parents, but he saw me as being his age. I felt good about being seen physically as 20 years younger.

I told my son about this and ended with, “And, needless to say, I did not correct him.”

And there is part of the tug and pull of getting older. I feel good about being 68, but I feel joy at being seen as 48.

Natalie Gelman can be contacted at drnataliegelman@gmail.com. Her website is drnataliegelman.com.