"That dress is adorable! Can you actually go sleeveless? Those days are gone for me," wrote my friend in reference to a cute dress I'm planning to wear to an upcoming event.
I replied, "I'm wearing a cardigan over it. My arms? Ick. Whose arms are good at 51?"
This got me wondering: What the hell happened to my arms when I turned 50? As few as five years ago, I was flaunting a set of tanned biceps that I was fairly proud of. I could still perform the Rose Bowl queen wave without hitting myself in the eye with flappy under arms. I could still toss a ball to a child in a park without worrying that the backs of my arms would catapult forward into my elbow like a misshapen water balloon as the ball released from my fingers. But in a recent photo of myself wearing short sleeves, I looked more like a linebacker, than the 46-year-old sun kissed girl in a halter dress from a few years before. And this raised the question, am I never allowed to show my arms in public again? Is there a statute of limitations on 'arm-showing' for women past a certain age? Am I doomed to hide behind sweaters and sleeves for the rest of my life?
Unfortunately, in my case, unless I decide to pick up a barbell in the near future (which most likely won't be happening since my hands are full of bags of Doritos), I'm afraid my days of comfortably airing anything above my elbows is over.
I envy those women who just let it all hang out. I wish I had the self-confidence to be one of them. You know the ones. You've seen them at the beach, Walmart, barreling down the grocery store aisle, tank tops framing ham-sized upper wings. They're completely oblivious to the fact that they aren't exactly supermodels. They simply don't care. While I'm wearing a turtleneck to cover my arms, crepe paper décolletage and creased neck in the middle of a sweltering summer, these women are cool as cucumbers, sporting an "I don't give a f*** what you think about me" look on their faces as they toss a cheesecake into their shopping basket.
These are the same women wearing short-shorts, too. Not remotely concerned about the cellulite craters opening and closing like Venus Fly Traps with every step they take. I stopped wearing shorts about 20 years ago, when a drunken audience member at one of my comedy shows in Dayton, Ohio yelled out, "You have ugly knees!" I stood on stage, fighting back the tears, vowing to never, ever wear shorts again. And ne'er a patella has been spotted since.
Thank God I'm short, because most dresses I buy hit me below the knees revealing the only part of my body that has yet to disgust me -- my calves. Although, after a male friend of mine recently referred to my ankles as "thick," (i.e., I have cankles) the calf-covering might be right around the corner.
And being thin, apparently, doesn't make one exempt from self-hatred due to aging. You might not be the victim of crater thighs or jiggle arms, but anatomical phenomena like "knee vagina" (TMZ's reference to a Katie Holmes photo that circulated a few months ago) start cropping up and you're not too far behind me with the long skirts and 3/4 length sleeves.
Each year, as the Earth makes one full trip around the sun, I lose another inch of skin space. It's like shrinking glaciers in the Arctic Ocean due to climate change. At this rate, don't be surprised if you find me with a summer home in Saudi Arabia by the time I'm 60, veiled behind a Burka.
Or, in a perfect world, I'll learn to adopt the attitude of the Walmart Warriors, don the tank top, ditch the cardigan and let my feminine flags fly!
Photo licensed through © iStock.com/PapaBear