As the theme of the week is body positivity, I wanted to explore the subject of growing old. While I could write a lengthy essay on the topic and relate it to capitalism and patriarchy, I will not do that as many have done it already. I just wanted to use this space to raise awareness of the issue.
I have a problem with growing old, not because of what it means for my body, but because it brings me closer to death. However, a lot of people do not like to see the way their body changes when they grow old. Obviously, I am not going through that experience yet, so I can only write from what I hope is going to be my experience.
While I believe the concept of body positivity is extremely important, sometimes I think we should just let our bodies be bodies. Bodies exist, biologically, to allow us to do our daily tasks and they should be cherished for that reason. How amazing is it that we get to do things? Any value we might attribute to a body, beyond that, is socially constructed. In my opinion, that is when the problems arise. Why should we attribute so much value to pieces of skin and bones? Growing old has many aspects of adjustment that can lead to a person feeling isolated and sad, but external beauty (whatever that means) should not be one of them. Growing old is a part of human life that should be cherished in its differences.
As I mentioned, this is a complex issue that is fed by capitalism and patriarchy, so a mere change of mindset is actually more difficult than it might appear, as we live in a society that makes us believe that old people are wise and respectable for sure, but not that useful as means of production and reproduction. Saggy skin? Not attractive. Any wrinkles? You want to get rid of that. Grey hairs? Dye over them.
Old people’s bodies look the way they do because they have been used and they have lived. They are supposed to look like that and the social constructions surrounding them should be those of beauty.