These arms


OK, the photos pretty much say it all. This is the current state of play regarding the onset of middle age and the big question of whether to cover up or not. Yes, I know it may not look like much at the moment, but it's the start of things to come, a sign that there's no going back. With a bit of clever posing my arms still look fairly acceptable for an old bird of 57. Don't think that this has happened by chance though. As a teenager I played volleyball, netball and basketball. From being spindly, string arms they took on some shape and definition until gradually I developed fine, not overdone, muscles. Swimming club kept these muscles lean and since my recent love affair with wild swimming I'm happy to say that I can still pull off a shapely pose from time to time. But don't be fooled. Age is catching up with me and my arms are showing the ravages of time as much as my face now. Caught unawares, there's a whole lot of dodgy stuff to be seen.

I'm making a point of sharing this as it's really winding me up to be honest. Not the whole ravages of time thing, but the dilemma of which way to go with it. Do I take cover and invest in sleeved versions of everything? Or do I ignore it? Well, that's not really an option, is it? Here they are flashing about in front of me, catching my attention at the most inopportune of moments. Take the other evening during our latest exhibition. There was I blithely accepting payment for a beautiful painting, feeling delighted for the artist, happy for the business and suddenly, as I was bending over the PDQ machine, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of my terrible inner arm gloopiness, a kind of lacy, drapey skin. Worse still was the thought that the client may have been exposed to this unsavoury display too! Did I actually see the guy wince? Is this a major social gaffe, worse than having your skirt stuck up your knicker leg?

Mary Portas tried to wean us onto her solution to the problem. Armery, I think she called it: a pair of arm tights which was designed to be worn under the dress/top.  Available in lace, jersey or cotton and in umpteen colourways it was going to revolutionise the way we dress. In some ways I was kind of pleased that we were talking about yet another unmentionable women's problem, but in another it riled me a bit too. Why, oh why, are we so pressured into being perfect even as we come into our later years? As I look around at men of my own age are they being asked by society to cover up their imperfections so as not to offend me or other sensitive souls? Not that I've noticed. More to the point, are they worried about the ravages of time? It doesn't look like it to me. I'm not about to declare war and itemise every imperfection of the male anatomy just to make my point, and I'll tell you why. I don't really care. Blokes are blokes and they come in all shapes and sizes just like us women. But somehow their imperfections don't feature in newspapers and magazines with sickening regularity. Nor are there pages and pages of advertisements selling creams, potions or surgery to fix all of their problems. And no, these chaps are not to be found squinting at their rear view just before they go out to dinner. The very thought that the male of the species would have their evening spoilt by a glimpse of their balding pate in a mirror as they were departing the Gents is laughable, ridiculous. But I know it's such a common occurrence for a woman to have her evening spiral into a decline if she happens to discover that her outline is not as she imagined as she gazes into a different mirror - this isn't what her reflection at home told her. So sad and so annoying too.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand. In the grand scheme of things I know how terribly shallow, no, pathetic this all seems.  Looking around me at failing economies, school shootings, global warming, famine and war, does it really matter if my arms look like those of a 57 year old? I think not. These arms have cherished two babies as I breastfed them for years and years, way beyond what was necessary, and well into a place that satiated my overwhelming desire to nurture, my need to love and wonder at these small and amazing creatures that were my blessings. These arms have hugged and squeezed so many friends, too many to count, but left no doubt that my love was strong, my concern genuine. These arms have comforted family in times of need, been solace and safety when life was tough. These arms have welcomed newcomers into my life as I have opened my heart to them unreservedly.  These arms have waved their bingo wings like joyous flags to departing loved ones as they headed off to pastures new. These arms have carried bags and bags of shopping, lovely loot from all of my favourite charity and non-charity shops. These arms have been hugely industrious and strong, lugging paintings and sculptures from here to there and back again, thousands of times over. These arms have beaten pounds and pounds of the most delicious homemade fudge you'll ever find. These arms have carried forth many a plump, burnished turkey to complete another family Christmas dinner. And these arms are going to attempt to swim between every one of the six isles of Scilly on the 5th of September 2015.

So what I'm saying is that these arms, like your arms (all you lovely readers out there) are wonderful, functional, expressive and generous. They may jiggle and wobble and have a mind of their own, but they're pretty amazing none the less. And if you see me in a sleeveless outfit this summer, don't feel sorry for me that I maybe ought not to be showing my arms as the flesh it ripples, the skin it sags, and I'm looking a tad less than perfect. Please note that I won't be concerned about these arms. Please, don't you be either.



  1. New to your blog. Thought it was a great subject and I couldn't agree more

    1. Welcome and thanks for your vote of support. I do like to have the odd rant from time to time!

  2. I LOVED this! Reposting and sharing on FB, Twitter now : )

    Brilliantly written post Anna!


    1. Thank you Suzanne. Sometimes a good rant just gets it our of your system!
      Anna x

  3. I'm late here...! I agree, brilliant post!


Created by bo design