Speaking Up for “Pro-Aging”

Being pro-age is the antidote to anti-age marketing, proclaims Debra D. Bass in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 06/06/2009.

“Aging is not optional, so forgive me if I’m a little annoyed by the ‘anti-age’ marketing bandwagon,” writes Ms. Bass. “…In response to the ridiculousness, I’ve adopted a pro-aging policy.”

So have I! I relish aging, because — let’s face it — the alternative is dying. Let’s see, aging… dying… aging… dying — is it even a fair fight to select the winner?

When Robert died — far too young, just 71, and in the prime of his emotional life, his creativity, and his ability to love fully — I wished he had been able to get old. Why do we fight it?

I knew a young (by my standards) man who was devastated by his oncoming 40th birthday. Loving his youth, good looks, and physical prowess, he kept saying, “I can’t turn 40!” He died in a motorcycle crash right before turning 40.

Be careful what you say and believe, and instead of fearing and hating aging, embrace it.

I grew up always looking years younger than I was, a real problem in my childhood and adolescence, but not so bad as the decades swiftly passed. Now, at 65, I do believe I look my age (remind me to post a current photo), and I’m happily settled into this aging process and the emotional growth that goes with it.

Don’t think I’m sitting back and letting my body fall apart: I dance nine or more hours a week, do an hour of Pilates twice a week, and aim for 10,000+ steps every day. (I wear an Omron pedometer everywhere, to the amusement of my friends.) I’m trying to redefine what aging looks like and feels like by staying physically and mentally fit and focused.

This blog is about sex and aging, and I firmly believe that how we feel about our own aging process affects everything else, including sex, relationships, the love we have to give, and our enjoyment of life. Robert and I gloried in our aging bodies. We saw wrinkles as badges of experience, and every tingly sensation we experienced together or apart was reason to exalt the joy (and face the challenges) of living in aging bodies.


  1. Joan Price on June 21, 2009 at 2:02 am

    No, I certainly did not want to leave the impression that I was blaming people for what might befall them. We have our challenges, and we do the best we can.

    I happen to have inherited genes that lead to early heart disease and, often, early death, so it's important to me to eat well and exercise and make sure my lifestyle supports health as best I can.

    However, Robert did all the right things and was a lifelong dancer, and his healthy habits didn't protect him against cancer.

    — Joan

  2. paula, 57 on June 20, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Christina at Onely makes a good point.

    A close friend of mine lost his brother, who was in his 40's, to cancer. (Actually his death was because of an overdose of pain medication, but this was being given because of the cancer.) My friend would get very annoyed when people would start talking about the folks who survived cancer. We tend to see that as noble, changing one's diet, doing all the good stuff, and surviving cancer. But lots of people do all the good stuff and still die. Also there are people who survive without changing much of anything. This was all a lesson for me in not blaming a person who dies from any given disease for not doing this or that to get better. (My friend's brother was a wonderful, fun loving person, loved by many many friends and a big family. He was also doing a lot of holistic as well as medical things to get better, and had a minister working with him for spiritual healing.)

    I think the same idea applies to aging. It's great to exercise, and eat a good diet, etc. But not everyone can do that, not everyone's body will do a lot of exercise, and there may be other extenuating circumstances that prevent a person from doing other healthy things. We can just do our best and accept ourselves just as we are, while staying open to any improvements we can muster.

    I'm sure Joan didn't mean to be saying that we have to blame people (including ourselves) who don't exercise, etc. for what might happen to them. Joan has lots of great advice which is very realistic for most older people, and I know she would be the first to say "just do your best, whatever that is."

  3. Anonymous on June 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    This is a great post. I would like to comment on "I'm trying to redefine what aging looks like and feels like by staying physically and mentally fit and focused."

    I'd add that we also need to embrace aging bodies that do not or cannot stay as physically and mentally fit. I've been noticing that in the age-acceptance movement (at least in the media, which is a pretty superficial movement), there is an "ok" way to age. Wrinkles–ok. Brown spots–not ok (look at any ad for osteoporosis medicine). Old and thin–ok. Old and fat–not ok (that Diane Keaton/Jack Nicholson movie where he discovers the benefits of being with a woman his own age).

    Christina at Onely

  4. Ell on June 18, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Wonderful post.

    I remember hearing the lovely Nigella Lawson speak in an interview when asked about her feelings on aging – her answer stuck with me. Reflecting on the death of her mother to cancer, the death of her sister to cancer and the recent death of her husband to a particularly hideous form of the same disease she said, "It would be churlish of me to begrudge aging, wouldn't it?"

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