The Thickening

Fairies broke into my bedroom while I was sleeping and inflated my waistline. That’s the only explanation I can think of for the thickening around my middle. It seemed to happen overnight. One day I woke up and there was all this extra me. In a life where so many things have slowed, my body seems to be changing really fast. I have new spots on my face daily, and the wrinkles around my mouth suck my lipstick up my nose.

Billie Best Blog post: The Thickening
Billie Best summer of 2017

As a young girl I stood in front of the mirror wishing my boobs would grow, puffing up my chest, hoping for more. Fifty years later I’d like to give some of that back. A lifetime of fashion magazines has taught me that big boobs are fine for sex workers and Hollywood movies. But clothes hang more elegantly on women passed over by the Boob Fairy.

About the same time as the thickening of my waist, my breasts ballooned into button popping mounds that want to spill over the top of my bra and bounce on my ribs. If they were torpedoes I’d be in danger of shooting myself in the foot. My clothes don’t fit the way they used to. I starve myself to try to reverse the process but this new shape seems to be permanent — and I really like food. I think I remember my mother looking this way, but I never thought it would happen to me.

Our whole lives our bodies do things we wish they wouldn’t. Nature has the final word, but she doesn’t choose what’s fashionable. I’d like to pretend I spent a fortune having these lines carved into my forehead. I went to a day spa to have these spots tinted on my hands. My moles were sculpted. My hairdresser took hours dyeing one hair at a time to make these grey highlights. But the truth is I did not curate my look. I woke up like this.

How different my experience of aging would be if I could see myself on the cover of a magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store. Headline: 10 Ways to Make Your Wrinkles Shine. Subhead: Turtle necks are in! I imagine overhearing someone in line behind me say, “Wow, her wrinkles are really cool.”

I want to see women who look like me in the media montage of celebrities, heroes and entrepreneurs. My aging face is not the failure of cosmetics. It’s a statement about self-confidence that says aging is cool. I’m aging by design. This look is earned, not made. You can’t buy these wrinkles. You have to wait for the Wrinkle Fairy to visit you in the night.

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20 thoughts on “The Thickening

  1. As soon as I saw the title of this piece, I reacted with a quiet laugh and a nod of recognition. I’ve been making the comment quite a bit lately that we all get thicker as we get older! Even those who don’t gain a lot of weight/get fat are still thicker than they once were! “Thicker” is the perfect word to describe it!

  2. It’s so good to hear your voice again! I’m not quite where you are but those fairies have me in their sights for sure. Please keep writing so I can keep laughing with you.

  3. Really excellent, Billie. But you shouldn’t be compared to Nora Ephron; your take on the indignities of the March of Time are both funny and sobering on their own. I look forward to future episodes. And, by the way, happy New Year.

  4. Hilarious! And beautifully written. By capturing this experience and allowing us to laugh, you have performed the magic of conjuring an age-less way to shine. Thank you, Billie!

  5. Hi Billie!

    F*n’ fairies. THey’ve been to my house too. Love this. Love the blog idea. Looking forward to seeing what all comes of it and wishing the very best on finding a publisher ASAP! I want to read it.
    Hugs from Maine,

  6. “I feel bad about my neck” Nora Ephron

    “If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini and don’t take it off until you’re 34,” she instructs in the confiding, busybody tone that comes so entertainingly to her. At 34, continue for nine more years to show off, and then it’s over. In the title essay Ms. Ephron advises her reader to start hiding that neck at the age of 43 and notes that her own friends often dress like “a white ladies’ version of the Joy Luck Club.” As she explains it: “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.”

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