Elder Dating
Retirement Investing Advice (?)

Wrinkles, We Have Wrinkles

It is, to me, the most offensive word there is about getting old: “anti-aging.” To be anti-aging is to be anti-life but even so, the word, the idea, is ubiquitous on the packaging of hundreds of brands of snake oil that promise to remove wrinkles and restore lost youth.

You know as well as I do that contrary to the claims of manufacturers, advertising, celebrity spokespeople and even some accredited physicians, nothing will make anyone young again or even young-looking.

So it would save a lot of heartache, not to mention money, to not only accept the physical signs of aging but to glory in them.

If you have been hanging around here for even a short while, you know that in the 12 months since March 2013, I have lost 40 pounds. Wanna know what happens to the skin of a 72-year-old who loses 25 percent of her body weight?


A year ago, my hands had about half as many wrinkles that were about half as deep as these. Nowadays I am the poster girl – well, poster old woman – for wrinkles.

And don't think this wrinkle explosion is confined to the parts of my body I'm willing to show you. There are now collections of fine lines, permanent ripples and a sag or two or three just about everywhere – arms, upper legs, belly and, certainly, face.

Yesterday, I had need of some photos for a story in the New York Daily News about self-written obituaries for which I was interviewed. (You can read it here and you can read another feature quoting me on the same subject at USAToday.)

I prevailed upon my friend Ann Adrian, a gerontologist and director of the Adult Community Center in Lake Oswego, to take a few shots for the Daily News piece. Here is one of the outtakes:

Ronni Bennett

See those three or four lines on the right side of my mouth? A year ago, there was just one. It was about five years ago when I first noticed that it was becoming permanent. (It had always been there when I smiled.)

In a private experiment on the progression of aging, I kept watch day-to-day over the ensuing years as it grew deeper. Even with that attention, it was a bit of a surprise when the additional lines arrived toward the end my of weight loss, as did those wrinkles and crinkles about my eyes.

The thing is, I like them all even if, the older I get, the more I look like my mother.

The most important reason I would not have cosmetic surgery is that I would never know what I really looked like in old age. Never know what all the living, good and not-so-good, had done to me and how it becomes written on my face.

And more, I would feel a fraud even if I had not spent 10 years advocating for elders just as we are, without surgical intervention.

You wouldn't know it from our popular culture, but there is nothing wrong with growing old nor with the accompanying wrinkles. Each era of our lives is unique unto itself and I want to live this one as thoroughly and authentically as the earlier ones without pretense to being something I am not – which, anyway, never fools anyone.

We laughed a lot, Ann and I, while she was clicking the camera for the shots I needed. She told me that like that line near my mouth I have monitored for several years, she (about 15 years younger than I) has been tracking one she first noticed just above her lip last November.

There is an ancient - more than possibly apocryphal - anecdote about the actress Delores Del Rio. It was said she believed that if she never smiled or laughed and slept 12 hours a day, she would not get wrinkles. Here, thanks to Ann's photography, is how I feel about that - the same photo used in the Daily News:


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Just Another Challenge


STUNNING. Smiling and laughing. Love, love, love.

Your hand is held in a position to accentuate the wrinkles actually, I just tried the same position. You have fewer facial lines than most women your age, look at your forehead it looks like Botox (maybe it is!). You still have your jawline, no above lip lines. Everybody gets eyelid crinkles when they laugh even women 20 years younger. I would say you look damn good and are imagining things that aren't there.

I hate the way a lot of advertisers and people in their 40s think signs of physical aging are things they can cure and shouldn't be there. Skin and hair does change. We'd all be a lot better off if we as a society just accepted that the was we used to do. I hate all the Botox babies in Hollywood, too. They make it harder on the rest of us. LOL

I love your hair and smile, Ronni.

Ronni, I love the photos. You are beautiful, inside and out. The bottom picture made me smile..it makes my day to see happy people.

Ronni, you look WONDERFUL!!!

Your hair does not look thin, your eyes are sparkling, your whole self looks just great!!!

Is it the wight loss, is it your lifestyle, is it the hairdresser - whatever it is, keep it up!!!

You are looking great!

I find that after major weight loss, some of the wrinkles (extra skin) tightens up again. Not the face, but those other odd residual bits.

And we all get more thin-skinned, literally, though certainly not metaphorically.

Millie and others...
My hair at the crown of my head is almost as thin as a monk's tonsure - you can see right through the remaining strands of har.

The only reason I'm not wearing a hat in these photos is that I knew you wouldn't see the back of my head.

Although Vera (above) seems to think I'm not as wrinkled as I claim, it's amazing how it's increased all over my body in the year I lost all the weight.

But here's the thing: I think the wrinkles are interesting and I like watching the changes. I have no desire to be young again or to try to hide the changes or do anything to look younger.

Well, except for the growing bald spot on the back of my head. I'm having fun with hats, but as soon as it becomes "cool" for women to have a top-of-head bald spot like men, I'll be there.

Great photo Ronni. The smile is better than any plastic surgery there is.

About that bald spot . . .

I have heard (and confirmed) that a bald spot in the back of the head is a clear sign of a Lover.

A spot in the front, you are Thinker.

Bald in both spots? Someone who only thinks they are a Lover.

Fabulous pictures - someone I would be delighted to meet.

"nothing will make anyone young again or even young-looking."

And nothing makes older people look more foolish than when they attempt cosmetic applications to disprove their true age.

Great piece Ronni.

One of the lessons of old age is how little we are our bodies.

You look great!

Another thing that has bothered me for a long time is how every woman needs to look sexy. Isn't happy and comfortable enough?

Ah, but you don't know how the wrinkles would have changed if you hadn't lost weight. It might have happened anyway. Certainly my wrinkles are increasing noticeably with every passing year. At the rate I'm going, my face is going to look like one of those that photojournalists love of very old women whose faces are just an incredible mass of wrinkles.

The ones that bug me most are the vertical creases on my upper lip. I never smoked, but the creases are happening anyway. The result of loosening skin, sleeping on my side, and gravity. Just tilt your head sharply to the side in front of a mirror. You'll see what I mean. But I value a good night's sleep too much to sleep on my back or put tape across my lip or wear some sort of elastic sling at night.

What beautiful pictures of you!

Radiant, Ronni! Radiant as a role model, too! One to add to the header of your blog?

My father wrote his own obituary. I would have liked to add my own thoughts, but in the end I let it go to print as he had written it. I think it was part of his acceptance. He was very independent and lived his life his way. And it was good.

You should have no complaints--your hair (and style) is beautiful and truly suits you. And few could beat that smile. I, too, have lost weight and am astounded at the skin on arms and hands, but, hey, it's good to be alive especially now that spring is almost here.

I love your photos. You look like you just won the lottery. The joy on your face is enhanced by your wrinkles and the laugh lines around your eyes prove you have done a lot of laughing in your life.

I read both articles that you provided links to. After you posted your original blog on writing your own obit, I wrote mine. When I had a computer crash I lost it and so I thank you for a reminder to re-do it. There is nothing more frustrating than making an on-line friend and then having them disappear. You always wonder what happened to them and if no one notifies you it leaves a void that can't be filled.

I would not have plastic surgery because I am afraid of general anesthesia...sorry my reasons aren't more noble.

I often think about the death of author Olivia Goldsmith ("The First Wives' Club", "Flavor of the Month")from complications from the anesthesia preparing for plastic surgery. NY Magazine had a interesting article about her death called "Looks to Die For". From the article:

"Lorelle Phillips,... believes that her neighbor had a surpassing fear of growing old. “She was the first person who ever talked to me about Botox, and she had had it long before it became de rigueur,” recalls Phillips... “She was somebody who had a difficult time growing old. She definitely didn’t tell her age. Maybe this was the way she needed to go, because I don’t think she would have dealt well with old age...."

...and..."[Editor] Ashmead agrees. “I think she had a great fear of growing old and not looking pretty. That was the reason for the plastic surgery.”

There are some other interesting comments about growing old in the article.

I so agree that anti-aging is anti-life.

In terms of plastic surgery, just Goggle "plastic surgery gone wrong" sometime. The pictures are worse than one's worst nightmare.

Fortunately, people (except my husband) can't see my most saggy skin--which is due to having had two high birth-weight babies. My skin recovered quite well after the first baby, but I never got back my so-called "bikini bod" after the second one. Which is OK with me.

Great photo and great smile! I too marvel at your lack of lines above your lip--and your great straight teeth--I envy you. Indeed, you are the "poster elder"!

I lI lost my maternal grandma when I was 40, and she was 86. All 40 years I thought the most loving woman I have ever known was beautiful. That has made aging much easier, and contributed to my decision to go gray. and not fight aging. Having a second husband 16 years younger has not changed my mind.

Nana Royer and others...
What doesn't show up in these photos is that there are plenty of lines on my upper lip and on my forehead - the latter are definitely brand new as a result of the weight loss.

And those straight upper teeth? Unfortunately, a denture.

You are fabulously beautiful, not only because you obviously do a lot of laughing (the best face lift in my opinion), but because you don't "believe" in artificial means of looking younger. I have been alone in this for so long and I love hearing you and your commenters supporting the "no-face-lifts" stance. Hurray!!! Found out about your blog in USA Today this a.m. Love it!

Good articles on this subject, especially yours, with lovely pictures of you. I, too, am living as I am now, wrinkles, sags and all. There's freedom in that - as J.Joplin said "Freedom's just another word for nothing else to do", though it means much more.
Regarding obits, it's obvious when one was written by self or relatives versus the now-popular pro version. I'm all for writing one's own, tho I can do without the current pop word "selfie."

You look great! I must admit I don't like losing whatever "looks" I once had (I was never considered a beauty so loss of looks is relative). However, like Susan G., I'm totally disinclined to risk the years I may have left just to appear younger than I am.

On the other hand, it would have been nice if Nature had designed us to retain the appearance we had at about age 60 or so, but what is, is.

Great photo of your beautiful smile. My own weight loss has given me extra wrinkles too but mostly no one but me sees them. I absolutely will never buy anything that says anti-aging on it. Fie on them.

"Freedom is just another word for nothin' left to lose" -- sorry, couldn't just ignore that! It's my OCD coming out!

I won't have plastic surgery, 'cause I'm too cheap and too afraid.

My forehead is totally without wrinkles and I attribute that to wearing full bangs most of my life. The rest of my face is making up for the lack.

I would love to find a base makeup that would fill in wrinkles rather than accentuate them -- anyone have any suggestions? I just want to even my skin tones, but makeup makes me look worse than I do without it.

And, Ronni, there are wiglets for the crown of the head only that you can pin on if you're tired of wearing hats. Just think of the wiglet as a furry hat! lol

Wonderful photos! They reveal a woman who is confident, intelligent and fun.

Ronni, ten million fans can't be wrong.

You look formidable!

You look wonderful just the way you are! I totally agree about plastic surgery!

But are you 72 or 73, Ronni? Or were you just screwing with the interviewers in order to put up a smokescreen around reporting your real age when you die? Seriously, this is interesting stuff and I had never thought about the DIY option. I knew I didn't want anyone else to do one of those banal, lifeless (pun intended) and likely untrue obituaries. I've gone my own way on everything else. Why stop now?

I have to post another comment---about the photo of your hand. It is so exactly (I mean exactly) like mine that it's eerie. In fact, I have a resemblance to you that extends to the photos and the progression of hair colors and styles across the top, but without the present-day fat loss and not as beautiful. I guess I'm the bizarro you.

72 now, 73 next week. I got confused myself with two people asking questions for those interviews.

No one sees the wrinkles when you smile like that. (I love your hair - glad you cut it a bit.)

At the risk of you getting mad at me...I'm going to say it--your recent photo looks younger than the last photo in your masthead. Maybe that is because your hairstyle is more flattering? Or maybe the weight loss? See, I know you now from your blog, and I know you do not give too many figs about "looking young"...but these photos are proof positive that a woman 72 or 73 doesn't have to look like a wreck, either. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in one's appearance......and......you do look like a million bucks.

PS. My hands look more wrinkly than yours. I spent a decade tanning in the Florida sun. I have a friend who is 10 years younger than me, has much better looking hands and she wears fingerless gloves all the time. It is sort of hilarious..because I know she is trying to conceal her hands--- and okay, they are concealed, but at what cost? The gloves make her look like Eliza Dolittle.

For fun with hands after weight loss, hold them below a hand dryer in a public bathroom. It will greatly amuse your grandchildren. I'm 67 and 7 years ago I let go of 100 extra pounds. Happy to have the sagging skin instead since now I can actually move around, bend over, etc.

Also, if your upper eyelids sag to the point where they're pressing down on your eyelashes, have your eyelids lifted. This is covered by Medicare. I guess they don't want us to fall down or get in car accidents because we can't see. Worked for me.

Great pics! Beautiful smile!

Thanks for cutting through all the anti-aging nonsense. Your blog, which I've been a regular reader of for years, is much appreciated by this soon-to-be 50-year-old.

I just found this article- four years after it was written. I have to say it's all very nice about liking her wrinkles, but I think it's nonsense!! She looks a bit masculine and the hair is not a flattering style. The eyes could easily look much better with a little cosmetic work, along with the rest of her face. Not a crime to look better! Not a sin! All this nonsense about "accepting" aging!! I think if one has the means, one should go for it! So many women look incredibly natural and beautiful after having a bit of "work" done! Just need to find the right doctor! Stop making it a crime to enjoy looking younger than ones age! Nothing wrong with it! And no woman should ever be made to feel guilty about it!

Boy, do I regret posting that rediculus comment! Had never seen nor heard of Ronni Bennett. My sister-in-law and I had been taking about hands looking older and I found that article. And then I made that stupid, snarky comment! After finding out who and what Ronni Bennett is, I am not only embarrassed, but have become an instant fan! Just goes to show, I guess, it's never to late to learn!

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