Fifty-something and … Who Cares What We Look Like, Anyway?






‘Popular wisdom insists that you’re not allowed to hit your  fifties and be gorgeous.’ ~ Cassandra Khaw, science fiction and fantasy author.

It’s true that people are surprised when they come across an ‘older’ woman who is conventionally good-looking, i.e. slim, shapely, sexy, well dressed.

When it is confirmed that she is in her fifties (sometimes even forties) or older, and, yet, all or at least two of these things, people act like they want to give her an award.

The belief is that the older you get, the less attractive you will be.

The belief is that it’s important to women to look attractive whatever their age.

The belief is that to qualify as looking good (for your age or at any age) you need to tick certain boxes.

What if, unlike Ming-Na Wen, you were fat, grey-haired and wrinkled at fifty? Would you be seen as having let the side down? Would young women look at you in horror and, shaking their heads, say you had ‘let yourself go’?

Why is a twenty-something author concerned with the physical appearance of women in their fifties? Why is she rooting for these women to look ‘gorgeous’? Are gorgeous fifty-somethings more worthy? Would a fifty-something woman who didn’t live up to conventional standards of beauty be seen by Ms Khaw as a disappointment? A failure? And why isn’t someone fat, grey and wrinkled gorgeous anyway?

These are tired, old questions, and I’m feeling very tired and old. People say, admiringly, that I don’t look fifty: I am fifty so I must look fifty, or fifty must look like me. Right?



Rollin On a Downslide

Fatness Update

I have not been blogging about my fatness because, frankly, I haven’t found it much of an issue. Is that because I decided I was going to call myself ‘fat’ and accept myself as being so that it has become easier? I’m not sure.

Maybe it has to do with the fact I am so much at home and not exposed to strangers looking me up and down and thinking ‘Fat’ in a negative way. Maybe it has to do with not having to struggle as much as I used to when buying clothes (I haven’t gone smaller, there are just more choices these days, in Malaysia).

I am aware that I am considered a small-fat in the wider context of fatness. Being a size 12-16 is not too much of a problem in the States or the UK. But here, in Malaysia, I am still considered a fatty. However, the other day I met some new friends for the first time and one of them said, ‘But you’re not even fat.’ I don’t know if I was imagining that she said it derisively. I do think we look at people and they often seem smaller than we think we are. She and I are about the same size. However, she thinks she’s fat and I’m not. It’s normal. We tend to be harder on ourselves, focusing on the tiniest flaws.

I still have days when I want to go on a diet and lose weight, but then I come to my senses when I see that the neighbourhood bakery has baked a fresh batch of buttercake loaves. Haha.

Jokes aside, I do think I am happier in my skin and happier with all my wobbly bits than I used to be.


ms cat nail bar

By Ms. Cat

For my fiftieth birthday, my eldest niece, Nadia, got me a voucher for a nail spa and so I went for a pedicure this morning. It was a very expensive pedicure (RM75) but seemed no different from the sort I usually have at the salon down the street. (Note to self: If a salon is called Posh!, you can expect high prices for nothing more than ambience, speaking of which, the piped music was embarrassing and included a tinkly version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.)

I also had the ‘callus heel treatment’, which cost RM70, but I’m not sure I noticed where the pedicure ended and where this treatment began, especially as the former included the ‘removal of calluses’. I must say my heels look and feel smoother than they’ve done in a long time. I’m pleasantly surprised as nothing can usually be done with the cracked and hard skin on the soles of my feet. Perhaps I was paying RM70 for magic!

I usually choose scarlett for my toe nails, but the last time I had a pedicure I picked a dark coral shade. You can see what I opted for this time. The colour is beautiful but, as always, my toes look like slug corpses.

While I was having my hour as a lady of leisure I received a text from the kids saying that my bedroom door had ‘locked itself’ and there was no key to be found. I shall have to call a locksmith tomorrow, but in the meantime, I’ve got one of the condo’s maintenance staff to remove the lock and door knobs and so now the door has to be held closed with a stool. I just thought I’d add that to this post as confirmation that a mother’s day always ends up equal parts bitter, sour and sweet.

One Small Step

Today I posted, on my Facebook wall, a picture of myself in a swimsuit.

It looked something like this …


It’s certainly not something I’d have done a month ago, but as I am trying to stop being negative about my appearance, I thought it was time to stop just talking about fat-positivity.