Yesterday I went shopping for a summer skirt. All my old ones are ankle length and dowdy. But, alas, the ankle-length, dowdy tied-dyed rag I was wearing looked better on me than the dozen or so spandex knee-length numbers I tried on.
And here's the trial faced by women of a certain age: every year the prevailing fashion is to reveal more, while every year pride requires that a new body part be obscured. I'm slim (and my eyesight isn't that great), so I come late to this knowledge. But I've fully arrived now. First it was my dimpled bottom that had to be loosely and amply draped to conceal its texture. Then my thighs had to have 100% coverage—no more shorts. Then my knees, which bulge at the sides, could no longer be put on view. Since my mastectomies nearly two years ago, my chest has been a continual condundrum—a tug-of-war between comfort and vanity. Last year my daughter pointed out that my upper arms were—"sorry, Mom, you wouldn't want me to lie to you"—unsightly in their flabbiness. My back, with its keratoses and other barnacles of sun damage, has long been off-limits. Now even my calves have grown shapeless and lumpy. My feet, with their chemo-damaged nails and bulbous bunions, are disgusting. And my hair—it never really came back after chemo, and the few strands that did are gray—is an outright mortification. I can't bear to look into the mirror—or my bald future. I deal with these various deformities—except the latter—by brushing them under the rug, in a sense: I dress like a nun (or an Orthodox Jew, says my daughter).
Yet, strangely, even as the appearance of my poor old battered body grows daily more humiliating, I continue to increase in physical strength, stamina and flexibility. At 58 I'm able to hold yoga poses longer and move more deeply into them with greater precision than when I was far younger. I keep anticipating that I'll have to back off and settle for a thrill-less elder-yoga devoid of handstands and arm balances, but that's not happening—yet.
So, if current trends persist, I'll be doing yoga in a chador when I'm 90.