I have been pondering the different responses to solutions for aging. As we age, we often need glasses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, joint replacements and skin cancer removals. I am intrigued by the stigma that surrounds some of these and not others.
Hearing aid companies constantly advertise that their products are invisible or nearly invisible. Why do hearing aids need to be invisible? Why do people resist getting them, wearing them or admit that they need them? I compare the need for eyeglasses. Yes, many people get contact lenses, but you never hear eyeglass ads touting “invisible eyeglasses.” Why the stigma and resistance for some and not for the other?
Many women need surgery after years of childbearing. Many people need a knee replacement after years of living. The first is a very private matter. The second is often bragged about, as if it is evidence of athletic activity. Both are signs that our bodies are wearing out, but we see them differently.
Canes, which used to be seen as signs of weakness, now come in bright colors and patterns. But walking sticks were always acceptable when canes still had a stigma. Gray hair on a man is distinguished; on a woman it’s a need for dye. Bald men are fine; bald women need wigs.
I guess the whole matter reveals our ambivalence about aging. We want to control how others see us and we respond to the still prevalent stigmas about some signs of aging. Well, I live in a wrinkled, saggy, balding, nearsighted body with good hearing and my original joints. We seem to be embracing everything natural these days. Well, my body came naturally!