CHICAGO: I was in Walgreens on Tuesday around eleven am. The only other customer in the store was an elderly lady pushing a cart. Her cane, complete with tennis balls, lay diagonally across a case of Miller High Life. She was dressed in verve and spunk. A silver sequined jacket radiated sparkle with each determined step she took in basic gray orthotics. A black baseball cap with Diva written in swirly silver sequined script also twinkled in the fluorescent lights. She was like a slow moving disco ball in the vitamin aisle.
She smiled at me as she pulled cod fish oil supplements off a shelf. I smiled back at her. I thought the only thing we had in common was a belief that over the counter vitamins improve our health, but I was wrong. We had a lot more in common. I just didn’t realize it until a few days ago.
There I was in front of my mirror ready to apply lipstick when a velvet bag in the back of my lipstick drawer caught my eye. I knew what was in there- crystal encrusted costume jewelry. I poured the contents onto the shiny granite counter and spread them out. Beautiful, each and every one. I could count on my hand the number of times the whole collection saw the light of day.
I thought the only thing we had in common was a belief that over the counter vitamins improve our health, but I was wrong
Then a weird compulsion came over me. Sensibility took a sabbatical. I held my two favorite necklaces up to my white T-shirt and debated which one looked best with my denim skirt and sneakers. Not which one looked less crazy mind you, they both did, but which one suited my mood best. And I put that crazy sparkling bauble on!
Then I went to the library. On a Sunday. In the afternoon.
It wasn’t until I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in the glass doors of the library that I had a flashback to the silver sequined diva at the drug store. Whatever decision-making process drove that little old lady to don a full sequined jacket to Walgreens had guided me to wear this shiny ornament to book club.
What’s peculiar is that when I got to my meeting, the ladies in the group all complimented my necklace. It’s important to mention no one in this group is under forty. That’s when I realized it wasn’t just me and Walgreen Wanda. It’s a phenomenon fueled by dropping estrogen. The older a woman gets, the less she cares what people think and more about what makes her happy. It’s why a snazzy elderly lady wears orthotics and nine rings. It’s why women who wear “slacks” consider bling as essential as underwear. It’s why Chico’s sells necklaces big enough to be mistaken for lobster traps.
We might be wrinkled. We might sag, but by God we are still powerful, feminine, and shining in an otherwise dreary world
We bling wearing warriors have endured enough to know that life is not always fair. We have bumped up against glass ceilings. We have changed goals when the lack of a penis precluded us. We have cloaked ourselves in the proper amount of shame for our normal body functions. We have endured high heels, constricting shapewear, and push-up bras. We have excused ourselves and even asked for forgiveness when rightful indignation was our due.
We ladies of advancing years, we have seen it all. Now we will take the parts of our femininity and boast them, and we will eschew the ridiculous accoutrements like high heels and digging underwire. We might be wrinkled. We might sag, but by God we are still powerful, feminine, and shining in an otherwise dreary world. That sequined jacket wasn’t just a fashion decision. It was a thumb in the eye to all the standards of femininity put upon us. It was the roar of being feminine but defining it ourselves. Age gives us strength, perspective, comfortable shoes, and the courage to boast I am woman, see me shine!