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arms and the woman.  photocollage by Julie Seyler

Arms and the woman. Photocollage by Julie Seyler.


The first thing I’m going to bare, as summer approaches, is my soul. I’m having doubts about wearing my favorite orange (short) shorts this year.

I’ve always been a bit of a paradox when it comes to being bare. I love clothes, and I’m modest. I believe the more left to the imagination, the better – no matter what age. But I also love air on my skin. I’m barefoot more than shoe-ed. And I love bare legs, bare arms, and bare anything else that’s legal … or out of sight.

My doubt was fleeting, but it had crept in because of my age. Because, as we all know, ladies, it is incessantly hammered into us that we should burka-up once we hit 40. So says … just about everyone under 40. And just as tiresome, repetitious, and saluted (ad nauseum), is our generation’s mantra: “We-will-be-the-first-to-look-40-at-50-so-take-that-we-look-great-and-we-will-not-be-held-back-nor-told-what-to-do-nor-what-we-can-wear.”

Don’t listen, girls. To either hail. Instead, don a sense of delusion, and face this summer bare-backed, bare-bellied, bare-armed, bare-legged; bare breasted. Embrace this stratagem with aplomb, regardless of what you may look like, or what others may see.

Or create an allusion:

If you think you look better from the front in a bathing suit, than from the back (we all know how those lycra suits push everything that’s loose to the back), then never let anyone see your back while standing up. When taking that long walk to the ocean for a swim, you can bend over to pick up the most breathtaking seashell you’ve every seen. Don’t stand back up. Instead, cup the shell in one hand with the elbow inward, and at hip level. Your other hand meets your forehead to keep the sun out of your eyes. This allows you to remain bent over frontwards the whole way down the beach, and into the ocean.

At the pool, prepare for that perfect plunge with a stretch and a salute to the sun from chair to the pool’s edge, then dive in. And when surfacing from any body of water, it’s perfectly acceptable to elongate your whole torso, upper arms vertical, elbows bent, hands on your head, biceps flexed, while you are squeezing, fluffing, and tending to your wet hair. The four parts of your trapezius muscle, in back, will take it from there, beautifully.

Arms are tricky. Especially in broad daylight, or fluorescent lighting. No amount of planking or pumping can tone that free-flowing (sometimes flapping) underbelly of an aging, uncovered arm. If you’re lucky enough to have toned arms at 50-plus, believe me, in the wrong light, they, too, can look pocked and piebald.

So, when possible, especially when being photographed bare-armed – never, ever put your arms front and center, with the “No! Don’t take my picture!” pose. Always turn your inner arm towards the sky, palms secretly pressing down on the arms of a chair, chest out, head up, and a tad forward. This tightens your upper arm, and creates that dip in your neck, thanks to the much-underrated clavicle bone that will project and appear to be part of a toned, upper arm. And if this picture is taken on the beach: head to the beach chair. It’s low to the ground. So everything that’s falling down, will fall back when looking up to the picture snapper, who is looking down at you looking up.

Breasts never get “old.”

And my hat is off to any woman over 50 who bares her belly with verve. I only feel that verve when exposing my front while lying on my back. And buoyant. (Floating in water, palms down, arms up, head back, can give the allusion of a 25 year old from head to toe.)

Legs can hold their own, no matter what age. The question is, how much do you show? Show as much as you want. Especially if you are also baring your arms or belly. Because unless your derrière is sagging down through the bottom of the hem of your shorts, or short skirt, no one will be looking at your legs.