This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

Roman noseI have written often on this subject, yet it keeps calling me back.  I hear chatter, see ads, discover new offerings in this field.  Yes, we humans fixate on our bodies. We find the parts that are not considered attractive in the time, age, and location in which we live, and we obsess about them. I’m too tall/short/scrawny/corpulent, my nose is too big, my hair is too limp, my eyelids are slanted, my ears stick out, my biceps aren’t muscular, my breasts are too small/large, and on and on.

Of course, styles in beauty and attractiveness change with the times.  Peter Paul Rubens, late 16th century artist, painted very full figured women as that was considered beautiful when he lived. Today we call them fat. Ancient statues from Rome sport large Roman noses as it was considered good-looking at that time. Today, we seek rhinoplasty for such a protuberance.

Even though I am of average height now, I matured very quickly and was the second tallest kid in my sixth grade class. The tallest was also a girl. I hated it and wished I could be little, cute and popular like Bunnie. I remember that we had ballroom dancing classes in school every week, and they would line us up by height, the boys in one line and the girls in another side by side. I was always second to the last in the girl’s line or last if the aforementioned tallest was absent. Chances are I would get one particular boy as my partner who was wimpy and had an underbite.  I’m sure he wasn’t any happier drawing me to dance with during the “ordeal,” either.  I despised the whole thing.

We run to our idols: doctors, surgeons, hairstylists, personal trainers, fashionistas, anyone who can disguise or change that horrible feature about ourselves that we abhor. Once we do away with one, we find another to fixate on.  Okay, the bump in my nose was removed, but how about my big hips? Okay, I got rid of my wrinkles, but I hate my thinning hair. Let me run to the gym and work out, let me get liposuction, let me stuff myself into girdles, slimming pants, A-shaped skirts, Hawaiian shirts, let me starve myself–anything to hide my awfulness from the eyes of others.

How sad we humans are. How funny we would seem to alien beings arriving on our planet. How strange we must seem to the animals of the world.

Does a horse fixate on its mane being shorter than another’s–darker, lighter, thicker, thinner?  Yes, certain traits in the animal world attract a mate: longer tusks, larger chests, more colorful feathers, etc. However, we humans have taken it to an extreme as we are wont to do. If it doesn’t come naturally, we spend our time, energy, and money scurrying to the fixers of our fixations.


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Photo credit: Son of Groucho on Visualhunt / CC BY


Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, seniors, successful aging, wellness

4 responses to “Fixations

  1. Patricia Keith-Spiegel

    Great post–yes I relate to the tallest girl in the class issue. Those who accept themselves as they are probably make up a very happy minority.

    • I’m guessing that those in the happy minority still have hangups about themselves, although perhaps less that others. I once had an exceptionally beautiful acquaintance who confessed to a group of us at lunch one day that she had hangups about her looks because her sister was even more beautiful that she was.

  2. It is sad that we aren’t more accepting of ourselves, of nature, of aging. While I’m not one to want to go for surgery myself, I think it can be a positive thing for some. On the other hand, it’s many industries combined who’ve got a lot to gain by our feeling dissatisfied with ourselves

  3. If someone has a gross disfigurement that surgery can correct, I can understand that. However, the sad ones are those who spend money they can’t afford and put their health and possibly lives at risk chasing addictive cosmetic surgery to fix every slight physical thing about themselves deemed unattractive. And, yes, there are industries making billions by supporting our dissatisfaction with ourselves.

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