Now, i laughed and said no ( i am more 13 years away from that cheap ride) but it got me thinking about age and appearance all over again.
A while back i railed here about the violence our ageist community inflicts on women.
So after that carding attempt i circle back to think again about aging and the way our world sees it.
Ok, so here's my truth. I'm 51 years old. I lived most of my life on the coast in a part of the world where the ozone layer has had a big hole in it since the 1970s. I was a burn, peel, burn baby of Celtic mongrel extraction - white skin developed in the haar of Scotland and the dusky dells of Ireland. And yet, self proclaimed part lizard that i am, I have lived my life loving the sun.
All of this prefaces the fact that I am wrinkly and sun damaged.
I have grey hair, finding my first one at 16.
I have a wattle. I have deep mean looking creases between my eyebrows and deep creases from the corners of my nose to the corners of my mouth which show the well worn path of all the smiles and grimaces i have made over my life.
I look like an old woman.
When i look in the mirror i see the wrinkles and the sagging and the pigmentation and the other varied marks of time, the way i have been taught to by my culture; sneeringly, critically.
To all intents and purposes I have committed the heinous and self destructive crime of "letting myself go".
Go in without the immense sums of money spent on face cream or treatments.
Go in without botox or surgery or (and i kid you not i know a woman who has done this) only ever sleeping on your back in order that your face is not squashed into wrinkles while you sleep.
Why does this bother me?
For a while i was heartened when i began to see images of grey haired beauties turning up on my social media feed and then i looked a little closer.
If you don't beleive me go now and look.
When you look at images of grey haired beauties they have two things in common. They have grey hair which i will grant is a rebellion against one facet of aging.
But they also have flawless skin.
Do they show any other signs of aging apart from the hair?
Wrinkles? Liver spots? Sagging?
No. No. And No.
These role models for aging beauty are either airbrushed - in which case we are being lied to, or they have worked damned hard to avoid wrinkles. Which of course is a personal choice and more power to them but I wonder why being unwrinkled makes people happy and the only answer is
Aging is abhorred in our society.
Is it because it reminds us or our perishable nature? As my friend Vynka says, aging is a privilege not all of us get to enjoy. Aging is actually a gift - we get more time on this beautiful planet with the people we love. But the spectre of death that has its whispers in our creases scares people it seems.
Is it because we are so fixated with newness in the consumer culture we live in we have to want a new looking body and face?
I don't know.
What i do know is that our perception of aging is being mightily fucked with.
We don't see people aging naturally. We see, and applaud people fighting aging. The rhetoric around aging is all about the battlefield.
There is no winner in this war though. Only skin care companies and other's who profit off of our fears.
So i wondered how do i strengthen myself to walk away from the fight?
How do i remember that it is ok to sag and wrinkle and crease?
How do i look in the mirror without admonishing the tracks of time?
I realised that what i really need was the company of other women who have walked this path.
So i asked myself...
Where are our aging role models?
I went looking for memes and images about aging that showed women aging naturally and i either found those grey haired beauties with their ironed out skin or very wrinkled natural looking African or Asian women in traditional dress.
It seems aging is only acceptable when you are "ethnic" Racist aging? I think they might be linked.
Where are the wrinkly European women? On some warped plain do we think we are "above" that?
The only one i could think of was Georgia O'Keeffe - who with her angular-i -don't-give-a-fuck-because-i --am-a-desert-loving-art-making-icon seemed to defy the norm.
Are the women who are wrinkly and European too busy trying making themselves invisible? Hiding in sensible shoes? Not dressing like lamb? The uniform of short hair and unthreatening dress?
Are we hiding our potential role models in a cloak of shame?
Lots of women say when they hit 45 they begin to become invisible.
I think it's probably more true to say that when women get to 45 they often pass out of the overculture's subset of desirability; they commit the crime of moving away from youth. Our societies' gaze no longer naturally falls on women beyond this age. Is it that youth so completely equals desire that we forget the rich complex beauty of an old woman. Is it that desire is the only way we get to make the equation for beauty work in our tiny well corralled minds?
Or is it, more insidiously, that we as older women believe the bullshit rhetoric enough to be brainwashed into thinking we can't be gorgeous if we are wrinkly and we just begin to dim that inner light?
Why does it matter?
It matters because when we rob the world of beauty we all suffer. A paucity of beauty is a meagre mingey unhappy-making thing.
It matters because we, each of us have the capacity for immense beauty up until, and even after we die.
It matters because a narrow definition like beauty = youth robs us all.
If somehow we can't find a way to decolonise our minds as older women, find a way to overcome that fucked cultural paradigm that robs us and our wattles of feeling as celebratory about life and our own unique beauty as we can, then we let the overculture win. The patriarchy gets to live in our heads, robbing us the chance to sashay and wear whatever the hell makes us happy for some invented perception that crushes hearts and makes us and our world a less generous place.
So what do we do about it?
My best suggestion is to start something new. Take a selfie without filters with our wrinkles and our beauty showing. With our sagging and our grace showing. With our liver spots and our lusciousness.
Let's start a hashtag revolution on facebook - #oldANDbeautiful. Post a photo of yourself untouched and hashtag it with #oldANDbeautiful and see what we can cook up.
I will if you will.