Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Matron and the Midriff

Before blogging about something as freighted as female flesh, the Matron must note:   this post is NOT about weight.     Anyone who has actually seen her, knows that the  Matron is sturdy in name only:  she is generally the thinnest  person in the room.  A wee wisp of a thing.  There's a whole lot of other story behind that scrawny state and that's another blog post.

This one is about age.   Age, apparel, and working "appropriate" into that equation.

Earlier this week, yours truly lamented winter's cruel grip.    She has wriggled and gasped through these brittle months, sustained  by her family's love  only by her devotion to Bikram Yoga.   Readers may remember that last year, Bikram and the Matron became reacquainted; she did the Thirty Day Challenge to commemorate her 50th birthday.
The Matron's dependence on and joy in yoga has continued unabated. Deepened even.   She loves the intense, physical demands and the mopping, painful heat.   She loves the discipline that carving out 90 minutes, five days a week, requires.    She loves  that she can walk outside into  weather that's 15 degrees BELOW zero and half an hour later, be sweating at 110.   That's a 125 degree flip, folks.   In half an hour.

Over theses many months, the Matron has came to understand the restorative value in exposed skin.   When it's 110 degrees and sweating, the only thing that feels good on the skin is  . . nothing.    Teachers sometimes comment that less is more regarding clothing.   Certainly, less is all around her.  Yours truly wears a tank top; this is not your 1950's tank with built-in bra and wire.  No. This is a skin tight, teeny limp piece of material that barely grazes the belly button.  It is made from one square inch of spandex and sits on top of skin tight teeny spandex shorts.   The outfit weighs one ounce.   But everyone around her seems confident that the Matron's yogic experience will be better with belly bare.

The picture above (of strangers) came up when she googled "Bikram yoga."  She likes this photo because it is representative in its depiction of happiness and skin (and youth).    In the Matron's unassuming, hippy-dippy, bare-all Bikram studio, every type of body lets it all hang out:  young, middle-aged, male, female, hefty, wan, paunch, pouch, trim.   .  Those bellies are bouncing, back-bending, and stretching all around her.  

She cannot do it.   Once - just once- she  sported a purple half-tank top ((much like the one above), only to be crippled with self-recrimination and regret.  Truly.   She spent 90 minutes channeling Hester Prynne 

 The Matron -- 51 year old, Midwestern mother of three -- feels that the bare exercising belly belongs to the younger set.   In her world, there are just some things that women of a certain age do not wear.

1. Clearly, stomach-revealing Bikram yoga clothes
2.  Baby doll dresses
3.  Ankle sock, particularly with lace
4. Short shorts
5. Shorts and stilettos
6. Large bows - on hair, clothing, or handbag.
7.Bob Mackie Dress
8.   Fanny packs (ages in another direction)
9.   T-shirts that say "I'm with ____" or "Proud ______ of a _____"
10.   Clothes that match their children's, grandchildren's, spouses or anyone else for that matter

At 51, women should also avoid tent-like items of clothing.   Nothing reveals more than a dress that screams "I'm hiding."    Leather anywhere other than on the feet or swinging on an arm.   This too seems problematic, particularly in short skirt and tight pant form.  

Now, the Matron appreciates that her perspective is rooted in geography.   She has friends from around world who run around nearly naked-- those Latin women?   Shoulders, stomach, thighs--they are swinging it all.    She imagines her California friends and readers see ocean-side aging flesh with regularity.     She understands that there are women who wear flip flops and minimal clothing as accessories to cleavage and belly button.

There is no ocean here.   There is hard winter and the type of long, dirty springs that require hiking boots (mud) and goggles (mud).   Her psyche has been shaped by wool and long underwear, not warm-weather clothing.

The Matron will not be wearing ringlets in her hair.   No bows.    She will leave the teeny tiny mini-skirt to her daughter.    The leopard print leggings she used to pair with  biker boots?    Somehow . . . no.    The platform neon green shoes that seemed so . . . funky . . five years ago now scream 'garish.'    Pink t-shirts with sparkling hearts?  Not her style.

Feathers.   No feathers.

Yours truly will still strut her stuff.     But letting it all hang out?   She'll leave that to the younger set (and her same-age sisters closer to the equator).


cookingwithgas said...

gravity is not my best friend this day. At 6o plus I am dealing with all those things that happen and I really like clothes. Ones that can hide some of my gravity.

Cassi said...

I agree there's a time and place. I had my fun, younger and thinner, showing off a little bit of my body. I see aging as a wonderful time to embrace other freedoms. I'll take my t-shirts fully covering, thanks :-)

Suburban Correspondent said...

It can be really uncomfortable to exercise with loose flesh jiggling around. Hence my love affair with my super-structured bras and my spandexed camis. Without them, I would never get off the couch.

So, for me, it has nothing to do with age and everything to do with not giving myself two black eyes when I do a headstand.

Minnesota Matron said...

Suburban - ha. I can just see you on your head, right now. Oh wait- nobody ever sees you online so I'll have to imagine : -).

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am with you and have to add, for the benefit of Jared Leto's stunning mother: no keyhole necklines after the age (well, every really, but) 30. Just no.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Every time I look with longing at catalogs with leopard print leggings and whatnot, I remember that my body is no longer 19 years old. When I look around me and see women my age trying so hard to dress younger, I throw the catalogs in the recycling bin.