Sage Advice: Overly Obsessed with Vanity

By Amy Dickinson | August 29th, 2018

A 62-year-old woman can't see past her aging flaws


Old_and_Ugly Image

Dear Amy: I am a 62-year-old woman. I am still attractive and (blessedly) wrinkle-free, due to being on an aggressive slew of hormones, anti-oxidants and telomerase-enhancing drugs. (I’m using all the latest technology).

Because I am (apparently) unattractive to men, no matter what I do, I take solace in the few close but platonic relationships I have with a few men.

During a recent walk on the California beach with my friend “Martin,” he pointed out one beautiful nubile young woman after another, and then described his male reaction to them.

Martin also indicated that I should slim down. (I’m not overweight).

As a middle-aged woman, I am used to being marginalized, but I think that, during the last three years, the problem has become acute. I’m not invisible: I’m reviled and demeaned, both by employers and single men. These days you have to look like a porn model to even get by.

Short of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery, I don’t know what I can do. I feel that something that was optional years ago is now a necessity: a complete body makeover.

I have become extremely depressed about the situation. Were it not for my loving father, who left me with enough money to live on, I would be out on the streets.

I am still in excellent health. But if people (both men and women) feel my looks are “off,” they will say so!

Short of moving to a desert island and waiting for death, what are we supposed to do?

– Wrinkle Free and Upset

Dear Wrinkle Free: You already live on a desert island. You’ve put yourself there, and your obsession with looking youthful in order to attract and hold the male gaze will keep you there.

If men are so awful, then why are you so desperate for one? Why not simply step off of this terrible treadmill, and decide to spend the rest of your life cultivating inner beauty?

Inner beauty comes from your intellect, your character and your interest in the world and in other people. This sort of beauty does not require expensive procedures and products, and it does not fade.

Take some classes or music lessons. Join a book group. Volunteer. Learn to meditate. See a therapist. Find some nice women to hang with. Or move somewhere less shallow.

Here is a passage from the recent obituary of Kathy Kriger, a former diplomat who founded “Rick’s Café” in Casablanca, Morocco, when she was in her late-50s (she died at 72):

“‘If I’m honest, I always thought I would find a man while following my dream. That didn’t happen,’ she said cheerfully. ‘Instead, with Rick looking over my shoulder, I found myself.'”

I hope you find yourself, too.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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