At one point not long ago, I remember that we had a huge sofa that needed to be carried down the stairs — the only people around to do the job being me and the Son&Heir — and in discovering that I no longer had all the considerable strength I could once have brought to bear, the task was made tolerable only by the fact that the Son&Heir had grown up to be a strong man himself.  It was a sobering moment, and for a while I was quite depressed.  Then I thought about it, and realized that age was starting to have its way with me — I think I was sixty at that point — and trying to replicate feats of strength from my youth was not only pointless, but possibly quite dangerous:   heart attacks among men of my age trying to do heavy lifting are not uncommon.

I could have gone two ways:  hit the gym, manically try to build myself back up, or just accept the situation and realize the reality.  I chose the latter, even though it was quite a blow to my self-esteem to come to terms with this new reality.  No longer could I get into barroom brawls, no longer could I lift or just push heavy objects into place;  my life (and more correctly my body) could no longer tolerate any of that strong-man stuff.

Nowadays everything’s all about “self-esteem” and “self-realization” and self-this and self-that.  Hence the title of this post, which stays away from all the negative implications that have accrued to terms like “self-confidence” (boastful), “self-aware” (self-centered), and instead makes the case for being accepting of oneself and even more so, doing it gracefully.

Age does worse things to women.

While I agree that too much emphasis is placed on a woman’s appearance and especially her weight — and as Loyal Readers know, I lean more towards the “Nigella Lawson”-persuasion than the “Cameron Diaz” type — I think there is a great deal more to be said for women becoming what used to be known as “being comfortable in your own skin”:  coming to terms with who you are, what can be changed by things like diet and exercise, and what can’t be changed because of genetic heritage and advancing age.  It’s not a carte blanche to “letting oneself go” (another old expression) and becoming hideously bloated and sloth-like, but it does presume a more realistic attitude towards one’s appearance and capabilities.

No better example, I think, can be found than in the case of Kelly Brook, the one-time Page Three model.  In her teens and twenties during the late 1990s, she was the very picture of “beauty” (as defined by, well, everyone):

Then came age, and two children, and by 2007 she’d got bigger:

…and into 2018: 

To me, that’s a lovely woman.  In fact, “womanly” is the best way to describe her, and I cannot stress enough how attractive that is to me — how attractive that has always been to me — and I know that I am not alone in this.

Of course, a lot of people went to the Insult Dictionary, calling her “bloated”, a “whale” and all the other unpleasantness, and no doubt it hurt her a great deal.

But at some point, she got a grip on the situation, realized that what was being asked of her — staying with a sylph-like teenager’s body — was not only impossible but ridiculous, and she said so, plainly and quite succinctly.

Nowadays, she seems to have cut back a bit, but she’s still the same womanly size 12 woman she became:

Oh, I could go on (and on, and on, and on…) but I think you all get the point I’m trying to make.


  1. The problem is that she is almost anorexic now compared to the typical 40 year old(her age). There is a big difference between “a few pounds”, and the rolls of blubber that are found on too many people these days. Nothing wrong with her at all.

    1. the Insult League has to insult the voluptuous to remind themselves that the sacrifices and inconveniences they endure to keep the same dress size they had at age twenty are worth it.
      Anybody with more buttock than a death-camp survivor is bloated, fat, ugly and slothful.
      They want everyone to be just as miserable as they are.
      In my High School class there was a woman who was always on the cuddly and plush side. I’ve been to two reunions and at each she looked like she’d existed on celery and mineral water for a month to be thin. Dark circles around the eyes and all. Maybe she does weigh what she did at graduation, but that’s too much like squeezing into obviously too-tight-to-the-point-of-pain clothes to be able to say you’re still a size 2.

  2. You’ve gone Boolean when analog might be a better choice.

    I’m an even older pharte than you, but, unlike you, I never had the option of getting into barroom brawls, moving heavy objects, playing any sport at a decent level….. When I was 18, for example, I was included in a statistically meaningful set of young men whose physical capabilities were measured; I was comfortably in the bottom 10% of my peer group.

    In the decades since I was 18 my relative position has improved; about 40% of the guys in my peer group have died. It isn’t immodest of me to think that I’m in better physical shape than all of the dead ones and at least some of the sick ones. When I was in my early sixties I realized that, while not a jock, I was no longer an embarrassment. I had always done a little exercise, had decent vitals, and had a profession that required getting up and moving around. Good genes and modest activity had been kind to me.

    I was 61 IIRC when my job changed to be located across the street from a gym that was free. I was once in the bottom 10% physically but have always been in the top 2% frugally, so that “free” got me across the street and into the gym. I didn’t “hit the gym manically” but I took it seriously. The result has been a more managed decline, about the best you and I can hope for and the analog choice from the first sentence above. The choice isn’t either/or; it’s a range on which we can pick a spot and then adjust that spot as time and circumstance suggest.

    I submit that the optimum choice isn’t one of the extremes but, as usual, some moderate point in between.

    1. I’m with you. My mom died of a whole bunch of ministrokes caused by being plump with a Germanic habit of scarfing down plenty of bread, butter and fatty sausage. She died a vegetable, a truly horrible, long death.

      Some years ago our mutual doctor read me the riot act and told me I was going the same way as mom because I had the same body type and bad habits. It was a very minor change to give up some of the fatty sausage, walk an extra hour or 2 a day and hit the gym for light weights and such for another hour. Plus, gyms now have lots of women and some of them look much like the sleek, well upholstered ladies Kim likes, as do I. And good God, with what they wear you can tell their religion and what brand of razor they use.

      It’s not vanity. I feel so much better now I can’t even describe it. Energy, light on my feet, sleep better, wow.

  3. Someone in my peer group about thirty years ago saw Donna Douglas getting on a bus that she was riding. She commented that Ms Douglas was wearing clothing she thought was inappropriately young for her age in 1990, and it was sad for a woman to keep trying to hold on to the kind of beauty she had in her twenties. Donna Douglas was, of course Ellie May Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies, and the “horribly ugly” woman whose plastic surgery did not take in the Twilight Zone episode, “Eye of the Beholder.”

  4. Kim, I was approaching 60 before I understood what Tennyson was talking about, but I know of no one who said it more clearly:

    Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

  5. If Nigella & Giada cared about their fans, they’d film their shows in the nude. But they never do, because they’re bitter & hurtful.

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