I was walking my dog the other day when we happened upon a construction site. A man working there (who looked to be about 70 years old) said, "Hello, beautiful!! Don't we look lovely today." As I was just about to fling my hair back and say, "Thank You", I realized he was talking to my dog.
Yes, my dog is beautiful, but it wasn't that long ago when construction workers were talking to me. Although they rarely used complete sentences, it was clear what they were thinking and saying. Now, even a 70 year old construction worker is talking only to my dog. This isn't easy to handle. I'm not sure when it changed exactly. Like the gradual loss of our close-up vision, one day you just realize, "I need reading glasses." One day you just realize, "I am no longer hot."
So, what am I now? Is there really a window of hotness through which we pass? When I was young, and at my peak, I took my looks for granted and expected them to always be there. Denial, I guess, but you just don't think it's going to happen to you. Aging, that is. I was always one of the smug young ones. Then one day, it's like Joni Mitchell says, "You don't know what you've got til it's gone." You realize it's gone or, if you're lucky, going.
Though it shouldn't be important, it is. What no one tells you is that beauty has power. It is, in some ways, a ticket to ride. When the ride ends or slows down, you are forced to look around. I'll never forget what Robert Redford said he most disliked about being famous. He said you lose the ability to observe because everyone is looking at you.
So now that I can look around, who do I look to as my model of how to be an older woman?
There is the seventy something news anchor/journalist/talk show host that I deeply admire for her class and her career achievements, but she has had so much work done that her face barely moves when she speaks now. There is poor Priscilla Presley. There are numerous actresses that look nothing like their former selves after one too many procedures. And yet, they don't look younger than they are. That's the part that gets me. What I see in these women is that plastic surgery and endless injections make you look old and weird. Not even young and weird, but old and weird. I'd rather just look old, hold the weird, thank you very much.
If there was a fail-safe way to procedure my way back to hotness, I would be first in line. Until then, I prefer to look to women like Diane Keaton, Julie Christie, Sophia Loren, and Bridgette Bardot. All still gorgeous with no work (at least that's what they say and I choose to believe them). Yes, they look older, but not weird. These women hold their character, their achievements and their experiences in their faces. Although you can see the lines, and the sagging, you can also see the young, gorgeous women they once were and that is beautiful, at least to me.
But are they hot?
Maybe not in the way that Paris Hilton is hot, but I doubt that they care. And that's hot.