Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Age-orexia: the new anxiety

It was with some alarm that a month or so ago I picked up the Observer Woman magazine and came across this cover story: 'My name is Christa. I'm an age-orexic'

Great! I thought. As if women (and men these days) don't have enough hang-ups about their appearance.

Weight of course, is a perennial intellect drainer. When we could be spending brain power on how to halt global warming, or cure diseases, or spread resources more equitably, we instead spend our brain cells obsessed with bits of ourselves that are too big.

It's boring. And now it seems the absolute fear and obsession around aging is catching up with our hang-ups about weight. Boo - I say. Even as you've read this sentence you are closer to death. Where you will be in the ground. Rotting. And eaten by maggots. We can't escape it. Life reminds us that we must come to an end through the changes that appear on our faces and our bodies.

So you can botox all you like sister, but the reaper ain't fooled by your botulism filled forehead. We all get picked off in the end.

D'Souza in the Observer writes of her obsession:

"I'm not alone in thinking the idea of being 50 is an absolute outrage. I'm not alone in believing middle age happens only if you are ornery or slovenly enough to let it. Here is clear-cut, concrete proof that, up and down the country, it's all pretty much the same. We are now, amazingly, more obsessed about being young than we are about being size zero......In other words, if you want to insult the average British woman, don't guess her weight, just guess her age."

Cripes! She really knows how to make things hard for herself - doesn't she?

I must confess to a spot of age-orexia. There was a time (a while ago now) where I used to be asked for my ID at the pub. And at the pokies. And buying matches. And seeing an R-rated movie. Each instance made me bristle with injustice. How dare those trunk-necked bouncers think I'm 16. Big hair and loads of make-up, climbing in the toilet windows of pubs, carrying a copy of Investment Property: A User's Guide, were some of the ruses I tried.

Then one day they stopped asking. I was let in without questions. I was aging and, well - the process goes on. And on. And now on bad days I look like I've slept on jagged rocks.

I haven't been asked for ID for quite a while and although I haven't reached the point where I have to start wearing foundation makeup, that day is not too far away.

That is why my parents are such a breath of fresh air. They have been staying in London for a few weeks and have had a grand time. Could it be the museums, the walking holiday in the Lake District, the art, the culture, seeing me - their only daughter? No - it's the senior discount.

As newly minted 60 year-olds they have been shouting their ages to the roof-tops.
'We're sixty!' they tell ticket-sellers at the theatre without any hint of embarrassment. 'Do we get a seniors discount?'

'Oh god - have you no shame?" I murmur. " The seniors aren't my parents.." I say to no-one in particular.

To bus-drivers they cheerfully disclose their age and are not even asked for proof of their ancientness.

"Aren't you worried that he believed you were that old?" I asked.

"Not really, " says my mum. "We get to travel for half-price - you don't."

But if you are getting old - then I am getting old, I reasoned with them. So stop it! Now!

But on reflection I reckon Christine D'Souza and all age-orexics, should meet my parents. They reckon turning 60 is great. It halves many of the costs of expensive old London and entitles you to seats on public transport.

As for botox, they can't be bothered. Before dinner every night mum has a brandy and dad a beer. They sink into the couch at my place - tired from walking all day.

They look relaxed and happy. And you know what - when you are relaxed and happy, you don't look so old. Maybe that's the cure for age-orexia.

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Welcome to the diary of a reluctant exerciser. Having previously shunned fitness regimes in favour of bacon sandwiches, Brigid Delaney vows to finally shape up, get fit and eat more healthily. Over the next three months read how she gets on in a brave new world of gyms, exercise classes and no bacon sandwiches.
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