"What you will find in these pages is information and an
ideology that will help you find a new way of thinking about aging. I
don't want you to live in fear of aging, or beat yourself up about the
fact that your body is doing something totally natural. I want to
reframe the way that we, as women, talk about aging. I want to offer
a perspective that is healthier and more scientifically accurate than
the fear-and shame-based conversation that permeates our culture."
So what does a book on longevity have to do with a book on
redefining pretty for girls? EVERYTHING! Both are written for those
of us closer to the female end of the gender spectrum. Both encourage
the challenging and extinguishing of damaging and stereotypes. For
girls it is the equation of pretty and desirable with health
endangering thinness, almost impossible to achieve model looks, and
the acquisition of constantly changing (but always expensive) "in"
garments and accoutrements. For those who receive AARP brochures in
the mail there is a dual message. We can achieve secular salvation
(that focuses more on outward appearances than inward well being) by
the magic of surgery, dyes and cosmetics, toxin injections, and all
kinds of costly elixers; if we fail or refuse to do so we should fade
into obscurity, leaving the stage to those still hot enough to attract
the lustful male gaze.
These stereotypes are damaging and dangerous and all around us.
I think my readers are familiar with those directed towards girls and
younger women. I challenge you to examine the media directed to older
folks, especially the ads. I did and was quite dismayed. A lot
encourage women to invest in magic bullet hands of time turn backers.
Others seem designed for the grim reaper's waiting room. On what
planet do a group of card players get absolutely gleeful over the
chance to get life insurance and not have their deaths be a burden on
In my most recent review I encouraged parents of girls and women
of all ages to invest in Strong Is The New Pretty. In this one I am
making a case for all CIS and trans women and gender nonconforming
folks from college student through nonegenarian and beyond to acquire
Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark's Longevity Book.
Longevity Book addresses the many aspects of aging from cellular
to sociological. There are historical trends, some accompanied by
quite eye catching time lines. (Gotta love this 2015 entry in a brief
history of antiaging treatments: " A woman I'm the UK said that she
will quit smiling for forty years in an attempt to avoid getting
wrinkles. Other women laughed about this.") Topics like menopause,
still too often swept under the rug are addressed. There are no magic
bullets or one size fits all panaceas. Diaz and Bark acknowledge the
uniqueness of each individual's genetics and experiences in relation
to overall health and well being.
One of my favorite quotes in Longevity Book puts wrinkles and
grey hair in beautiful perspective. Think, for example, of how common
fatal childbirth fever fever was when doctors would go between
diseased corpses and women in labor without washing their hands. We
are reminded that longevity is a very recent blessing.
"The fact that we can grow old enough to look old, in droves, is
far from a failure. It happens to be the end product of arguably the
biggest success story in human history."
Different chapters center around different aspects of aging such
as stress management, brain building, and dealing with menopause. I
would advise reading the whole book rather than picking and choosing.
Each aspect makes much more sense within the wholistic perspective.
Likewise I would encourage even the more science phobic not to skip
over the more technical paragraphs. Reading in this way is like
building a house on a foundation of sand. Trust me on this.
In my mind the most valuable part of this book is its emphasis
on adapting life style change wherever on the life continuum you are.
My daughters can quite profitably take them up for a long term
investment; I am not so far along that I can't make a significant
"In fact, the best things we can do for ourselves as we grow
older also happen to be some of our favorite things to do. Eating
good food, developing our muscles, getting a good night's sleep,
loving other people, laughing, relaxing, finding joy in the world.
These are the actions and activities that make us interesting people,
curious people, strong people...
To us it sounds like a revelation. The best way to age well
isn't to worry about aging. It is to live well."
You readers may have to put up with my reviews for quite
awhile. I read elsewhere that giving birth without help conceiving in
one's mid forties is the strongest marker for longevity. (Thanks,
Adam!) Longevity Book gives me another reason for hope.
"One study found that people who have a positive outlook about
aging live approximately 7.5 years longer than their glass-is-half-
Think how many books I can discover and share with you in 7.5
On a personal note, I was so busy writing poetry in church I did not
catch Rev. Taylor's sermon. I barely managed to sit, stand, and sing
at all the right spots. :-) In my defense they are good poems. In
the afternoon I went for a ride with Eugene. I got 3 DVDs and a book
at a second hand store.
A great big shout out goes out to Eugene.
Sent from my iPod