Nora Ephron feels bad about her neck. She shouldn’t really. I saw her the other day and her neck looked great. All of her looked great. She was wearing a sophisticated black suit and had a perfect blowout. She was, as always, dressed for the occasion.
I do not feel bad about my neck. My neck is fine so far. The skin of my neck has age appropriate looseness and there’s little if any waddle under my chin. My arms, however, are another matter. I feel bad about my arms. Not all the time. This Spring my arms were looking pretty good. I was working out and had done a fair amount of work to make sure I could pull off my shoulder and arm baring wedding dress. But then I got busy. And life took over. And now I feel bad about my arms. They might look ok again someday. But right now, they’re taking a little break from public exposure. And that’s ok. They still look fine in a tight fitting t-shirt. The basic shape is still acceptable. But the skin is a little loose. And the looseness, in the wrong light, can look a little, um, cottage cheesey. Yuck.
This is what I was thinking about as I sat at my table during the awards segment of a charity dinner tonite. Instead of listening to the experts discussing the impact of the changing environment on children’s health, I was focused on the number of women in the room who had not paid proper attention to their arms. It was shocking to be in a room with that much botox and that many eye lifts and waddle tucks and neck jobs and to realize that women who had spent near fortunes on their faces had forgotten entirely about their arms.
Let me clarify: I am not a person who believes that every woman should look like a Playboy bunny. In fact, I prefer a woman to look her age. Nothing is more glamorous than a well-aged woman. And I’ve almost never seen plastic surgery look anything but ridiculous. BUT, I also think a woman should DRESS her age. At a certain point, unless you are Sarah Jessica Parker, you should probably check your arms before you go sleeveless.
Some inappropriately sleeveless women have an excuse. They’re single or perhaps lack proximity to a full-length mirror. Some may have husbands who don’t know any better or perhaps they just don’t have gay friends. But most women over 40 have no excuse. Most women over 40 have a husband or a child or a friend or a gay man or a full-length mirror or some combination of all of those things who can let them know when they wiggle. And some women have people they PAY who should let them know. Some women have assistants and publicists and STYLISTS who should tell them that the perfect new one-of-a-kind designer dress was really meant for some other woman – some woman whose arm skin has not succumbed to the rigors of time and gravity. Some women should, quite simply, know better.
If 43 has taught me anything it is that at a certain age, no amount of working out can stave off the simple march of time. And it is JUST NOT OK for a woman with a stylist to go out with flabby arms. It is NOT OK for a woman wearing a borrowed designer gown to flaunt bicep cottage cheese. If you are forty or forty-five or fifty, before you leave the house, ASK SOMEONE. Seriously. Ask a friend, ask your housekeeper, your daughter, your husband or your driver. Ask the valet guy and your publicist. And then ask again. Mostly ask the mirror. In low light and in high. Because truly, I promise you, there is NO ONE THING MORE UNATTRACTIVE than a woman who cannot discern the difference between age appropriate bareness and showing too much skin. If it jiggles, wiggles or looks like something you can buy in the dairy section, COVER IT UP.
Nora Ephron knows best. There is nothing more chic, nothing more sexy, than a woman who knows when to sheathe her arms, cover her shoulders and reveal only the décolletage that is still reaching upward. Hide anything that cannot defy gravity. And for god’s sake, learn to feel bad about your arms.