I’m reading a few different books this week, but I wanted to take a moment to recommend The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark. When I heard Cameron was coming out with an “aging” book, I assumed it would be comprised of typical Hollywood shortcut tips about how to look young or mask your age but I was surprised to find out that it actually carries a totally different philosophy on how to deal with age. The Longevity Book is actually about reshaping how we think and feel about aging. I was so taken with the message and spirit behind it, that it got me thinking about my own attitudes toward the aging process.
The book is divided into three sections, the first of which addresses the science of longevity and how over the last 150 years women have gone from a life expectancy of 40 to a life expectancy of over 80! I also learned a bit about how different men’s and women’s bodies are, aside from the obvious reproductive differences. For example, I had no idea women and men metabolize certain medications differently and that dosage isn’t always adjusted based on gender. The second part of the book tackles attitude adjustment as well as how each part of your body ages and the final section is devoted to what you can do to keep yourself as healthy as possible. It includes commonly covered topics such as nutrition exercise and rest, but the part I really enjoyed was chapter 12, which was dedicated to the brain. I feel that mental health is so important, yet something we so often overlook.
Even though (I assume) most of us don’t want to die young, many of us still think of “old” as a horrible insult and of aging as something to fear. Anytime I hear the “old” insult whipped out, I wonder, but don’t you want to end up “old” one day, considering the alternative? Isn’t that where we are all headed? Of course, I’ve had my fair share of insecurities related to aging, and they go all the way back to when I was quite young.
Since I spent my early 20’s living at the mansion,I got caught up in the age paranoia super early. I’ve been told I am “too old” or “almost too old” since I was in my early 20’s. How ridiculous is that? It’s easy to point the finger at certain patriarchal figures in my life and say they set the standard, but valuing a woman based on how young she is, is commonplace in our society. It’s important, for us as individuals, not to get swept up in someone else’s standards and disparage other women for how old they are or appear to be.
I have to admit though, I did fall into that trap myself. When I was 21, I started thinking 28 was super old. That seemed to be the unofficial cut off age for centerfolds. Sure, a few ladies over the age of 28 made it through, but they were rare. Sometimes I would catch myself looking at another woman and think “oh my god she’s so old, what is she doing here/why is she acting that way/why is she still trying to look like that?” I kept these thoughts to myself, but it wasn’t a healthy way of thinking. I knew that when I was older, I wanted more fulfilling things in my life than just the “bunny” lifestyle, and certainly my horrified “she’s so old” knee-jerk reactions came from my own fears and insecurities.
Of course, with those ridiculous standards, it wasn’t long before I was on the receiving end of the barbs. A few years ago, when Twitter was at the peak of it’s popularity, and everyone was constantly oversharing, a Playmate who was pissed at me for some reason or other tweeted a swipe at me, calling me “over the hill.” At the time, I was thirty-one. I certainly didn’t feel old . . . I was happier with everything about my life (including the way I looked) than I had ever been before, so . . . what exactly was I too “over the hill” for? Vagina modeling? She could have that!
Anyhow, the dig hurt, even though I knew it was silly, didn’t even make much sense, and was coming from an emotional place I had been all too familiar with. This person was only six years younger than me. Didn’t she realize that by denouncing me as “over the hill”, she was giving herself exactly six short years to “be young”? Since that amount of time has passed since she made that comment . . . should I send her some flowers with a sarcastic note welcoming her to the club?
No, I’d rather send her The Longevity Book. I’m over beating myself (and others) up about growing older and I hope she is, too.