Whatever happened to Baby Jane is starting to happen to me. I’m not talking about serving up parakeets on a platter (not yet), like Bette Davis did to Joan Crawford in that twisted cinematic tale of sisterly rivalry gone to the birds. I’m talking about a jolt far more frightening than any horror flick frenzy. I’m referring to that monumental moment in the mirror when girlish becomes ghoulish (or boyish becomes oyish). Suddenly the look that worked for so long is now so unworkable. The porcelain complexion has faded from translucent to Transylvanian – the wax museum is calling your name.
For men, aging is a simple matter of accepting a bad toupee and stocking up on luau shirts.
For women it’s a little more complex, like having a youthful replica of yourself, courtesy of Madame Tussauds, fitted with a wick, lit with a blowtorch and you get to watch while it melts.
Forget about crinkles and crow’s feet, your complexion will soon resemble a crepe de chine blouse. And that’s the most fashionable thing that can be said about your appearance. When your skin starts to sag more than your sweat pants, you begin to wonder: can housecoats and babushkas be far off?
Your creamy white throat is still tempting, but not in the way it used to be. The resemblance to turkey skin makes you hungry, (what doesn’t?) but now you get to accessorize your wardrobe with wattle.
For the rich and famous, aging poses no problems because looking like a mutant freak is apparently considered chic in Hollywood. For regular humans, however, some semblance of humanoid features is required to successfully co-mingle in society. And besides, the average budget doesn’t allow for anything other than Oil of Olay. Heck, forget about the budget, you pass out at the dentist – are you really going to let someone inject toxins into your body (other than whipped cream and cheese whiz?)
Botox brow and collagen lips may work on the red carpet, but in real life, children are so easily frightened. Cultivating a colorful personality profile is a far more realistic solution for the not-so-rich and far-from-famous.
For men, becoming a spunky geezer is always a popular option.
Single gals can consider the cat lady lifestyle.
Classic choices for moms include: Muumuu Mom – billowy dresses, boufanty hair and bosomy hugs; Manic Mom – glued-on grin, piercing pitch and busybee bravado; Matronly Mom – plump, placid and proper. Or you could go full-out eccentric (Norma Desmond style) and become Madcap Mom sporting age-inappropriate clothes, embarrassing dance moves, and hop-on-a-motorcycle-just-before-you-break-your-hip joie de vivre.
Whoever you are and whatever you choose, remember your new mantra: No one will notice your wrinkies and frownies, if you keep them distracted with cookies and brownies!
Eileen Mitchell is an award-winning essayist and playwright with recognition from The Robert Benchley Society Thurber House and the Will Rogers Writers Workshop.