02/08/2013 12:17 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2013

Mirror, Mirror... Aging, Beauty and Lies

The world lies to us.

Men don't believe the lies. They know it's a load of advertising, a bunch of hype, a song-and-dance number for the easily charmed.

But women believe. We're like those weirdly inarticulate but enthusiastic UFO sighters who live in unpopulated desert towns: We know it's out there, whatever it is.

We're eager to believe it's all possible.

We insist on believing that a flat tummy, toned arms, thin thighs and a firm neck will make us feel better about ourselves, when all it actually takes to feel better is a martini and plate of cheese snacks.

After all, once we hit 40, women have only about four taste buds left: one for vodka, one for wine, one for cheese and one for chocolate. Beyond a certain point, flat, toned, thin and firm are all things best left to those for whom they are negotiable assets. Those of us with sufficient assets have earned the right to sit on them and be comfortable.

And yet we torture ourselves, even though we are smart broads.

We know better than to believe in our heart of hearts that applying "minerals" to our faces will actually reduce the apparent size of our pores. We know that the use of finely-ground rocks to act as sealant is best referred to as "grouting" and should be done by a licensed contractor and not by a teenager at Sephora whose pores are microscopic. Yet we buy the whole face-grouting kit so that we can get a "free" cosmetic bag. The cosmetic bag will remain unused and, eventually, we will give it to a niece or goodwill.

Deep down, most of us realize that to "behave youthfully" will not make us seem like Demi Moore or Susan Sarandon but will instead prompt others to consider us as either Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate (if they are our good friends) or as Bette Davis from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (if they are everyone else).

We torture ourselves by wondering if we are too old for headbands.

We spend time pondering the judicious use of bangs.

When an attractive man (or, for that matter, a woman -- who has time to be picky) has flashed a dazzling smile in our direction without provocation, we spend the afternoon wondering if they noticed the insouciant way our bag and shoes create a stylistic dialectic, or noticed the whimsical yet edgy use of our accessories.

We like watchbands, bracelets and interesting buttons. We are women who believe that what we need is a makeover and stylist, when we fear that what we really need is a sandblaster, caps, and our stomachs stapled.

And yet, I repeat, we are smart broads. Really.

adapted from It's Not That I'm Bitter, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquer The World (St. Martin's Press)