About a year or so ago, a friend informed me that she would no longer be wearing sleeveless clothing. I had no idea why she would force such a prohibition on herself. She proceeded to remove her sweater so I could view her “wings,” those flaps of underarm skin many of us women develop later in life. My friend, by the way, is petite and fit and I doubt she’d gain much ascension should she try to fly using her tiny bit of a flap. Unlike, I suddenly flashed on, a beloved departed aunt whose wings looked as if they might loft her into the skies like Mary Poppins’s umbrella.
I found myself having versions of this conversation over and over with different friends. My own wings seemed fairly inconsequential so I wasn’t having that debate within myself…until I took a good look at my knees. Whose are those? I wondered, and how did they get attached to my legs? Also, what did they mean for my sartorial choices? I had a couple of dresses with hems that fell just above the knee that I was particularly fond of. Could/should I gift them to my daughter, whose knees didn’t resemble anything like an elephantine limb, as did my own?
I’m not without vanity, but I’m also not one to sacrifice comfort for style. For example, I’ve never even been tempted to adopt the fashion for high heels. I have no idea how women manage to propel themselves forward in those things, as I’m a pretty brisk walker (or was, until Parkinson’s made his unwanted appearance) so maybe that’s why I never took to the stiletto. Women sometimes expressed surprise at my preference for low heels or flats, since I clocked in at 5’2” at my tallest. This view operates on the premise that I’m dissatisfied with my short stature and must want to be taller. Well, guess what! I’m not and I don’t.
I imagine all those Carrie Bradshaws mincing their way down Madison Avenue in their thirties. Fast forward thirty years and they’re hobbling along in their sixties as a result of having damaged their feet from years of poor footwear choices. ( Yeah, I can be pretty judgmental. Let’s just say I have strong opinions.) I’ll be running alongside them, outpacing them by miles (and probably would have been, had Parkinson’s not decided to invade my body).
So, back to the sleeveless issue. I’m not inclined to post much on social media; mostly I’m seeking or offering information, and these days it’s primarily about Parkinson’s. But what the hell, I recently posted a query on the Facebook page Silver Hair Foxes: A Woman’s Creative Approach to Aging: “Sleeveless, yea or nay.” Ordinarily, if I get any likes, I’m thrilled. Two or three, wow! Six or more, I’m over the moon. Ditto for comments. Well, I’ve obviously struck a nerve, with 353 likes and 590 comments. I don’t have either the time or the inclination to calculate percentages of yeas and nays, but here’s a sampling of opinions:
A female comic I heard recently said she was going to have feathers tattooed on her arm flaps. I flap mine for my grandkids who laugh hysterically.
Let’s call them the start of our Angel wings to come.
Too hot for sleeves! Who wants to roast! And yes my arms are crepey and flabby. But I choose comfort over style. I am 74 and and if you don’t want to see it don’t look. Besides most women I know look about the same .
At 71 I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I am lucky to have both my arms.
Hate my flabbing arms, so I tend to not go sleeveless. Although I have decided to try it in my own backyard. Small step!!!!
I won’t go sleeveless, period. I don’t think sleeveless is any cooler than a short sleeve, and I have too much pride in my looks to do the sleeveless thing. But hey, to each their own.
I would be flattered if I thought someone was eyeing my flabby arms. When you are in your Sr. Years we are invisible and just wear beige and sit in the corner!! Blahaha!!
I am 80 and still wear sleeveless occasionally. I am not bothered by aging. I am grateful to be here.
I too have friends who say “I can’t wear shorts” “I can’t wear sleeveless” etc. WHY? Do they have a gun to their head??
It actually seems vain to me. What they are saying is “I could never look less than perfect to other people”.
Everyone says love yourself then starts “covering” every sign of old age. I say let them flap and wrinkle , sag , droop , whatever). BE COMFORTABLE!!!!
I was shocked to see a picture of me in a sleeveless dress. It made me reconsider,…. For just a minute
Can’t do it- guess I’m just too vain,
We need to embrace who we are
They are called “wavey janes” or “bingo arms.” I say Let It Go! If I run fast enough, think I might soar!
I feel like we have earned the right to wear whatever we please. I am too mature to worry about what ” others” think. I am stylish and love dressing cute. I don’t care if that means my crepey skin shows or my bat wings are flapping
So many people have much worse things to worry about. Just do you and be comfortable.
I have to have sleeves
This is a stupid topic. We all need to be comfortable and not worry what other people think. I’m 74 and wear sleeveless tops. I even wear shorts…if you don’t like the way I look.. Tough..
Remember, few men waste time with such body image concerns.
To each their own..I am 81 years young and haven’t worn a sleeveless outfit in years. It isn’t cooler and I certainly look much more stylish with sleeves covering my flabby arms. I am a REALIST and have always accepted the fact of aging. I swim, am active and most don’t guess my age – they would if I went sleeveless.
If they don’t like it they can look away.
People simply have to accept others as they are. Most people won’t notice flappy arms unless you waggle them in their face￼
Body Shaming should come from NO ONE, including oneself. Wear what you are comfortable in. If you are uncomfortable cover-up. You will only live once, enjoy it.
I’ve always said that if I had to cover up all my wrinkles I’d have to wear a burqa. I dress stylish and I won’t apologize for my 77 years of flabby arms.
I refuse. I hate my arms. I like knees and elbows covered- but always have.
If I had to guess, I’d say the “yeas” have it – the most popular responses were something on the order of “Love yourself,” “Go sleeveless,” and “Who cares about your flabby arms.”
And with the wisdom that can only come from being cursed with a very unpleasant illness, I say, who the hell cares? It sounds cliché, but being sick really does alter one’s perspective. Things that used to get to me – I’m having a bad hair day! My flight is delayed! My souffle didn’t rise! – just don’t seem to matter anymore. Or at least not to the same degree that they did when I was perfectly healthy and could enjoy the luxury of caring about which shoes looked best with that outfit.
I would say “you do you” for the first and very last time in my life but that would mean that my body had been taken over by an evil demon and we don’t want that. So, do whatever the hell you want. Just make sure it makes you feel good.
Two classic films and personal favorites
“American Graffiti” is the quintessential coming-of-age story starring before-they-were-famous Richard Dreyfus (giant crush) and Harrison Ford as well as the already famous (Opie) Ron Howard. Poignant, funny, and with great music. Amazon Prime.
“To Catch a Thief”. Hitchcock at his sassiest and most playful, not terms usually ascribed to the master. But with Grace Kelly toying with Cary Grant – and him toying right back- how could you not? Plus, the south of France as the third leading role. Yum. Prime, Paramount plus. Apple.
7 thoughts on “A Farewell to Arms”
I miss Michelle Obama’s arms a lot
Love the title of this blog post, Andi! Made me laugh.
Glad to hear it!!
Thanks for sharing. I think someone is trying to use your Facebook name. You asked to friend me. So just to check, I said yes and they wrote back about how lucky they were because of God. I asked how And when we met and the erased me. So…just sayin’
Fun reading! So Parkinson’s is male for you?…”until Parkinson’s made his unwanted appearance”. Might make for an interesting article about what ailments and things we genderize and why. My husband’s cars are always female!
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You make us all think about what matters and that’s important! Thanks
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Always enjoy your writing! Fun and thought provoking.
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