Ladies of a certain age, the best that can be said is, welcome. Congratulations are not necessarily in order. After all, who asks to find herself here, over the hump, in midlife? Who wanted to arrive in this territory, even though everyone knew it existed and could see others inhabiting it?
Never mind. (Pause here for a sigh of reluctant acknowledgment. Or to mourn.) Few like it here much, especially in summer, the season for baring the body. Just to underscore the point, along comes August's Age Issue of Vogue, with women complaining about their no-longer-perfect bodies - from eyebrows gone haywire to shoulders with brown and red spots.
Many women fight tooth and bicep to delay arrival to this place. Midlife makes them feel invisible to men and somehow diminished, despite their accomplishments. No wonder all those big, fancy cosmetics companies and plastic surgeons frame their age-defying pitches in the feminist language of "rights" and "choices." They understand that some women see youthful physical beauty as an expression of their power.
But do not colour your thoughts along with your grey roots.
Such is women's obsession with the tyranny of their aging bodies - some might even call it a body dysmorphic disorder - that they develop names for the various age-signifying bits that can seem as offensive as teenage behaviour, prompting a need for strict control (in this case intervention in the form of diet, exercise, cream, injection or scalpel).
The names suggest annoyance, never love or fondness of the type men have for some of their parts.
Which is unfortunate. Don't you love your teenager, despite his long, greasy hair?The cure, ladies, is to laugh. To wit, a list of the best names for the worst afflictions.
The Bitch Wrinkle
Also known as Chapter Eleven (an appropriate illusion to bankruptcy, given the cost of Botox). It's that wrinkle - some have two parallel lines - between the eyebrows.
Bunny Lines Sounds cute, but they are not. Small lines from the tear duct of the eye up the bridge of the nose.
No explanation needed.
The Parentheses. Or Bracket. The lines on either side of the nose, running to edge of the lips. Why not stick with Deep Smile Folds, or DSF, for short? At least that name suggests you have been having fun.
When wrinkles start to form in a horizontal pattern along with the vertical ones. Found primarily on the lower cheek.
Vampire Dinner Lips
We could call the lines around the lips by their quasi-medical term, perioral wrinkles. But that's not much fun. Better to follow Diana Athill's lead. In her recent memoir, Somewhere Towards the End, she wrote of the aging process with an admirable sense of humour. "One of my dearest old friends could never get it into her head that if, when doing herself up for a party, she slapped on a lot of scarlet lipstick, it would soon come off on her teeth and begin to run into the little wrinkles round the edge of her lips, making her look like a vampire disturbed in mid-dinner."
Ringed Tree Trunk. Also known as the Ropey Neck. We have Nora Ephron to thank for drawing our attention here. In her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, she observed, "You have to cut open a redwood tree to know how old it is, but you wouldn't have to if it had a neck."
Gludgeons. Otherwise known as Dewlaps. The little bulge of skin where the arm meets the torso. Vogue named the body part in their August 2008 Age-less Issue.
Bingo Wings Or Dinner Lady Arms. Even Madonna, a super-fit 50-year-old pop star, was revealed to have them - the flabby undercarriage of the upper arms - when she waved to fans earlier this month.
Alluvial Fan. Pattern of lines formed on upper chest. They drain into the cleavage. Some midlife women refrain from sleeping on their sides to prevent their formation.
Not worth displaying with the same confidence the area once inspired.
The Shelf or Bosom. A formidable prow of a ship with which a matron can sail into a room.
Saddlebags. Carried on the outer part of the thighs at the top. Can lead to a state of being known as The Waist-less Wide-bottom.
Cellulite. Well, duh.
Menopot. Also known as The Pooch.
Old Lady Butt
Or Saggy Booty. Also afflicts old men (as evidenced with Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give). Can be seen on the young, too: Celebrity watchers have outed Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan as having Diaper Booty. (Yes, the droopy butt has several names.)
They are padded and bulky. Skinny, exercise enthusiasts develop Shar-Pei Knees: wrinkled folds that droop.