Aging Gracefully | | standardspeaker.com
If I’ve ever heard of an oxymoron, that’s it.
There is nothing graceful about all the medical tests – and the increased risks – that seem to come with every decade.
Some people have been luckier than others in the DNA game. My lawyer and longtime friend, the legendary Bert Fields, is the only lawyer in his excellent firm who actually goes to work in the office every day. And he has been for months, since he recovered from COVID-19 last March.
Of course, it’s easier for men, we say to ourselves women, and it’s true. The men look distinguished. The women look old. And all these ads for men’s hair dye are there because men buy. Botox for men is huge, a friend in the industry tells me. And facelifts, of course.
Good luck to them.
I remember when I was young and stupid about those things telling my mom she had to wear her long blonde hair in a bun to the Democratic Convention lest she embarrass me, the first woman to lead a successful primary campaign. I wish I could take it back. She was beautiful. She loved her long hair. There is so much that you want to grab back when you have decades to look at them, when you know how the story ends.
I wrote my case commentary for the Harvard Law Review about the then very current age discrimination in employment law. For the purposes of the law, the age was set at 40, which made perfect sense to me at the time and now seems utterly ridiculous to me. Older workers are being made redundant every day, replaced by cheaper, more tech-savvy young people. And unless you have idiots in HR (some companies have them, and HR is so full of women that some call it a dumping ground for women), fire people “legally” – in order to defeat any allegations. of discrimination – is not very difficult.
Everyone says, “look at Joe Biden,” he’s old. I know. The same goes for anyone with an internet connection. I have immense respect for our president. But if I remember correctly, the big problem he faced every day was his age.
I passionately believe in the rule of law, in the possibility that by teaching justice and practicing politics we can change the world.
But the rule of law does not have a doctrine of how you are supposed to age gracefully in a society in which being “old”, however defined, requires you to make yourself invisible in order to survive.
I know women who have built a lot of people who have no idea how old they are or when the photos were taken. And there are tens of millions of us buying every product that claims to be “scientifically based,” even though I know that doesn’t mean anything about what it will do for my lines.
“I’m not going to age gracefully,” she said. “I will fight to the end.” And lose, of course.
The Guardian recently reported on a new study which, using data from many other studies, concluded that there is no cure for mortality; that even though we live longer thanks to better health care, our cells are still preparing to die on us.
You can try to look younger and act younger, but your cells aren’t fooled at all.
I cannot age gracefully. I live in Los Angeles. When I moved here 30 years ago, I was already old. My skin has been pitted, pulled and polished. It hurts, costs money, and sometimes lets you stare at a face that no prince would look twice at.
And yet, I have so much more experience than I did 30 years ago. My judgment is so much better. If the life of the law is logical and not experience, to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., how come my phone is literally ringing constantly with enticing offers that I turned down because I had two young children – and I never came back.
SUSAN ESTRICH is a columnist for Creators Syndicate. To learn more about her, visit www.creators.com.