Thought No. 16: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

"Blinded me with Science."

“I’m sorry what did you just say?” 

“Oh, you have molecular degeneration”, my optometrist said. 

“That sounds serious!”, was my retort. 

“No, you’re just getting old”, he responded. 

He said it — not as a judgement, but scientific fact. In my warped mind, I was thinking, "If I had a nickel for every person who reminded me I'm getting older, I would be sitting pretty". Alright! I got it! I've been hearing these words since I was 18 years old. When you’re a model, your age equates your worth. But that Spanish Inquisition doesn’t stop, even when you’re not selling youth and beauty. Obviously our culture has an obsession with age — and we're obsessing about something we can’t change. It may be paranoid of me, but I feel most are using it to put me in a box — and I don’t want to be in that box.

Almost every day I get asked what my age is. My response is, “Would you like to know my blood type or my social security number, too?” They laugh nervously at my response. They don’t mean any harm — it’s a benign question to them. But I never ask that question of others. I don’t think it matters and its insidious, in a way. As a woman, you start to realize the meaning of that question, and that your value is directly related to youth.  

Even the closest people to me don’t really know my age. (Other than my sisters, business partner and ex-husbands — and that’s for a reason.) The more I make it relevant, the more it gives it relevance. A marker of time has significance, but at the end of the day sometimes all it does it make me feel bad about myself. "I’m this age, so I should be at this stage of my life and I should have this bank account and all that comes along with it", etc. I’m also a narcissist — which never helps any issue.

This time, there's physical truth I can’t ignore. Every other time someone said I was getting older, there wasn’t any real tangible evidence. I could dismiss their rhetoric and just say it’s conjecture. However: not this time. The reality of the situation is that I can’t read a book anymore without glasses, because I am getting older. (I’m using “reading a book” to get my point across, but it's really more like Facebook.)

Not to be a total wuss about it, but I don’t like it. I find it ironic that when I finally do need to read, my eyesight has started to deteriorate. In this case, there is nothing I can do about it. No vitamin I can take it to make it go away, no pill to pop and no amount of sit-ups. Acceptance is the only answer to this problem. Acceptance, contacts and a fake ID.

Best,

Jen