I get sassed by young(er) people by accident more and more these days.
A while ago, a rookie reporter protested when I edited her column to include a mention of Milli Vanilli - lipsynchers extraordinaire for those of you not aware, or alive in the 1980s.
"Not cool, lah," she pleaded, after changing it surreptitiously to Britney Spears.
Recently, when I told a nice, young colleague that I had been with the company for 12 years, she remarked in amazement: "That's two thirds of my life!"
And yet another sweet young thing, still blissfully unacquainted with the decline of her metabolic rate and skin elasticity, asked me at a dinner party why I didn't "want to lose weight" after having two babies.
Whenever this happens, I simply smile and think to myself: One day, you'll be my age. And then someone else will unwittingly insinuate that you're uncool/a fossil/porky because you don't make an effort.
The irony is, I'm not even that old: I turn 35 in August.
Tell actress Charlize Theron, who is a year older than me, that she is ageing, and she'll chew off your head like she did with a writer during a recent magazine interview ("I'm young as a bitch. I'm a pup," she scolded).
I'm no Theron, who is statuesque and beautiful. And I will admit to periods of panicking about ageing.
Last week, I freaked out when I lifted the fringe of my pixie haircut, and found, hiding there like a bunch of illegal immigrants... a cluster of liver spots.
They probably developed recently, from all the time I've been spending in the pool with my two sons.
Somehow, my outside no longer matched my inside. I still feel 17, but I no longer looked it.
Perhaps this parenting business has been so intense for the last six years that I haven't had much time to look in the mirror every day, and now gradual changes seem to me like overnight ravages of time.
For days, I moped about, worrying about irreversible, age-related sun damage and dark patches on my face. I didn't want to be 35 with the skin of a 53-year-old.
The Supportive Spouse, who has a five-year head start on me in this ageing business, looked reluctantly when I forced him to examine my spots.
"Okay, they're there. You have spots. So what?" he asked, genuinely puzzled as to why it was a big deal.
He was right. So what, indeed?
Self-esteem, body esteem
I checked out a book from the public library: The Woman In The Mirror - How To Stop Confusing What You Look Like With Who You Are by psychologist Cynthia M. Bulik.
Bulik's point is that women have been socialised from young to conflate self-esteem with body esteem; judging themselves more on how they look than on what they accomplish.
And that we should deprogramme ourselves of this negative mindset, in order to free ourselves of a never-ending stream of diets, beauty regimens and aesthetic treatments.
Once we do, we will feel better and be able to contribute more to the world.
Granted, it's not a new message. Yet, it is one that bears reiterating, given how pervasive air-brushed images of young women with flawless skin and svelte figures are.
Heck, even the old(er) women have flawless skin and svelte figures on TV and in magazines.
Where are my true, untouched and un-Botoxed models for graceful ageing - both inside and outside?
While the world went on about Aishwarya Rai's weight gain, my friend, X, and I wondered what it was like for the 38-year-old to not bounce back like a springy 20-something.
"All these great beauties must find it very difficult to get old," said X.
"You don't know how much your beauty has affected the way people treat you, until it's gone."
In that case, I really don't think I have much to fear about ageing.
I'm no beauty, and when I'm 53, I'm pretty sure young(er) people will still be sassing me.
Might as well get used to it now and wear my age spots with pride.
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