FLESH FORWARD - Do the Jiggle! It's Summer!
Sorry - photo-shopped Arms! (photo@Eva Napp)
Every year it gets worse. It's almost summer everywhere
and it is really hot in LA. Oh, how nice to wear a skimpy dress with spaghetti straps the way you always did, all your life. Without a bra! After all, you are of the sixties generation. Except you are well over 60 now. So what! You are who you are and can’t see no harm in having allover exposed skin on your entire upper body. And there isn't any (harm)!
And yet....one's own perception, definitely shaped by upbringing, too, being what they are, are unyielding:
I'm not crazy about my upper arms.
This is an awfully cute picture. But I don't like my arm - so I cut it off!
They hang, they jiggle; don't like it at all. I'm looking for cover. Silly? Yes! Who cares? Yes! Wear what you want? Yes! But is that really always the mantra that works? Since I always see ads that offer magic and strenuous exercise to get back the arms (and, come to think of it, the rest of you) of youth, it’s worth to investigate this summery topic that invites all kinds of fashion-trouble. Must I really point out that men do NOT have that affliction? - and even if they did, they would handle that in their usual cavalier style.
Trim, athletic upper arms are a dream that doesn’t
come true for many (including myself), certainly not when you are in your late sixties and when untameable flesh appears in all kinds of places you didn’t even know you had. In younger years it’s luscious, firm and silky from head to toe, the breasts sit proud and high – but then, it seems all of a sudden, the flesh is jiggly and moves about like Jell-O pudding. Especially the flabby upper arms that are so un-Michelle-Obama-like that it’s tragic. But it is the truth – and it seems sometimes unfair – women have more loose flesh on their body than men. Which is really nice as long as it wraps itself in acceptable and pleasant proportions around a relatively trim body (can you see that I'm struggling here to avoid words like "perfect" and "beautiful"?)
Nora Ephron, the very funny writer felt very bad about her neck (and good about her bank account since her book was an international bestseller) knew a thing or two about the older body that seems to betray you whenever you don't pay attention. She sometimes felt as bad about other body parts because everything goes south when you hit fifty. She opted not only for turtle-neck sweaters but also long sleeves. I think she had a very good point.
In my informal fashion-quiz which I do often for fun with girlfriends, I ran by them the question, „How long can you go sleeveless and bra-less in public?“ At the very most until your early sixties was the answer. And of course, "it all depends". Yes, it always does, doesn't it? Because no matter how fit you are, there are not only jiggling parts on your upper arms but strange and scary wobbly hills and fatty deposits right under your arm that don’t need to be exposed freely to strangers anywhere. And certainly not without a bra. My opinion, so don't get excited!
It's hard to wrap your head around it, I know, but the
once adorable super skinny flower children and budding feminists who banned not only the bomb, but bras as well, are gone. By all means, wear comfy or skimpy or shapeless dresses over natural bosoms, throw in Birkenstocks (which I grew to love) and go! Liberation on all fronts is always appealing.
Who decides what is beautiful and fits the bill of propriety? Naturally, it is very important that only you yourself decides what is permissible at what age – it is an individual question of comfort and aesthetics - and upbringing. I was brought up by a very beautiful, proper and ladylike fashion plate of a mother who wouldn't have exposed naked armpits after 65 to strangers in a bus for the life of her.
Of course, you should have a relaxed and loving relationship with your body and allow it some freedom, no need to wrap it in „Spanx“ like a wounded knee. And yes, there is the "C" word - COMFORT, and God knows, us women deserve that one. But there’s nothing wrong with being a little critical and in control when it comes to exposure. I found that a good way to test one’s tolerance is to recall what is a real turn-off when looking at other people’s bodies in public. I live in Hollywood - which means tourists. Sadly, more older women have an uninhibited streak when it comes to daring nakedness than is good for them and us. And yes, I DO think, "I sure as hell don't want to look dressed like that!"
Half-sleeves is as far as I go!
Since I turned 65, I wear teeny tops without the bra only
at home or with friends. But fashionable life goes on in the outside world. So, here’s my personal plan for a cool and pretty summer without exposing too much flabby flesh. I love long Indian feather-like silk scarves that I wrap around my shoulders. Another tip: Get a short little silk or cotton cardigan (waist length is best), that you also can just hang casually over your shoulders if it gets too warm.
And don't write angry comments with the famous "f#ck
it all. Wear whatever you like!" lines. I know we all kind of want that - and kind of do. And yet, not really...you'll figure it out. I have. Maybe next year, I'll be more boldly jigglish.
Til then. Linen shirt for me!
"F#CK BEAUTY DUTY"