By Stephanie Wyeld
Two tiny white hairs, impossible to grasp, spike prominently against the brown of the mole that resides under my chin, twinkling in the screeching light of the bathroom. My tweezers are about as effective as a Nerf gun in warding off the intruders. The hairs have changed pigment and they are angrily holding on for dear life.
At your age, you have to wear make-up, a friend says, as I sit reluctantly in front of her mirror, and she teaches me, a grown woman, how to draw a respectable line on top of my eyelashes. I didn’t ever expect to have to draw accurately on top of eyelashes. I always felt that eyelashes were something that maintained independence during their life. Sometimes, on a night out you could briefly swath them with a quick brush of black, but to DRAW on them? This is too much artistry for me. But she tells me it makes my eyes look bigger and less tired, so I try.
I have a WHOLE BAG of make-up now, and my friend isn’t wrong; I do look quite ravishing with it on. I am terrified at how much I need to wear so nobody will ask if I’m feeling okay.
There’s nothing to be done for the veins, though. YOU don’t have them, maybe, but I do, from all the sitting, or standing, or lying down. It was my kids, it is the fat, it is genetics, I don’t bloody know. But they are there, hanging on at the back of my knees, like they are clinging to a cliff. You can rip them out, someone tells me, go see a plastic surgeon. I can RIP THEM OUT, as if these are just the things I have to do now, as if caring for my body is just manual labor. Unskilled, perhaps, but tiring, and relentlessly full time. One could argue seasonal, but you don’t celebrate the off-season when you are in the thick of 12-hour days.
And then that dirty word, peri-menopause. What fresh hell is this? Not only will you bleed, but it will now be arbitrary, sometimes like you’ve been hunted in the wild and they’ve hit your jugular, or sometimes not at all and you start doing the math about how damn old you would be when THIS baby finishes college. Of course the anxiety is standard; my hormones are changing enough to justify installing a revolving door. No one teaches a course on what will happen to your body when you stop laying eggs. And this is the crux of it, and I will lay it out here: one day my body has to mourn its loss of goddamned eggs.
But don’t talk about it too much, of course. Some things need to remain sacred; we wouldn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. We can mostly handle the hormones when it comes to the beginning of fertility, but when it is starting to end, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, please don’t let’s talk about it.
Middle age comes with many conflicting jobs: my bones might break one day if I don’t do weight bearing exercise, but my ligaments might give out if I do. Eat well, diet, don’t diet, get lots of fresh air, don’t go in the sun.
Age gracefully, says another friend. Gracefully. As if you can do anything gracefully when you can’t regulate your temperature and your pants are suddenly a size too small. Before you ask, I do know about exercise. Don’t push your low-impact swimming on me, because goddammit I’m still young enough to wear a bikini and I WILL.
They say one of the only things on your body that continues to grow, besides all the hair, is your feet. That’s what we get, ladies. Big goddamned feet. But listen, we’re gonna use these things as flippers. When we pop out at the end of a lap (because God knows I can’t do more), we’re going to smoothly ascend from the water, Wild Things style, with eyeliner dripping down our cheeks, veritable goddesses.
Eggs be gone. We’ve got make-up and flippers now, and we’re goddamned awesome.
About the Author
Stephanie Wyeld made her writing debut in grade eight when the teacher read her story about the Titanic aloud to the class with the lights off for effect. She has a B.Sc.(Kin), an M.Eng, and a penchant for volunteering. She has recently given up the prestige of counting money for the PTA and is now on the executive the of the Canadian Author’s Association – Toronto branch, and the Writer-in-Residence at Heliconian Club. Her first novel is currently out on submission. While she waits she bites her nails and writes her next book. She can be found on Twitter @steph_the_twit and on Facebook.