The Right to Bare Arms

Susan Goldfein picture
As we approach warmer weather, women over a certain age, say 60, will once again face that nagging fashion dilemma: to go bare, or don’t even dare. I’m not talking about decisions regarding skimpy bathing suits – that shop closed a long time ago. No, I’m talking upper bare arms, the part of the body that tends to sag and flap thanks to our good friends, time and gravity.
The other night I was dining with some BFFs, and some how the conversation rerouted
from global warming to apparel without sleeves. There is a certain logic to this
detour. Anyway, even the most petite among us stated she was starting to feel awkward about going sleeveless. OMG, I thought. Upper arms have become the new neck.
As the only person at the table who had dared to go bare, the seeds of doubt were immediately sown. Although I’ve been a dedicated triceps toner, I began to wonder if perhaps the jiggly, Jello-look had finally caught up with me. I immediately reached
for my sweater, blaming my cover-up on the excessive use of air-conditioning in south Florida establishments.

Later, needing an objective opinion about the true state of my upper arms, I turned to my

Bright yellow dress for summer. Beautiful clothes. Fashionable style.

Honey,” I said, “what do you
think about my arms?”

Your arms? I haven’t given
much thought to your arms.”

My upper arms. Do you think
they’re in good shape?”

As compared with who?”
(Thank goodness he didn’t say
Michelle Obama.)

After correcting his grammar, I recounted the dinner conversation. He made an enormous effort not to laugh, patted my shoulder, and told me I had nothing to worry about. I impulsively turned to see if the pat had triggered any fatty tissue undulations.
So, as older women, we may not be fond of our upper arms, and I bet we’re not too crazy about our knees, either – nor our upper thighs. But summer’s coming. What to do?
Stay inside and plead seasonal affective disorder? Cover up and sweat it out in the oppressive Florida heat? Or throw caution to the wind and say we are too old to
worry about what others think?
I think the answer is to strike a nice balance and wear comfortable clothing that makes us look and feel good.
Just the other day, I happen to notice a very attractive “older” woman. She was stylishly dressed with beautiful hair and earrings and yes, she was sleeveless!
Good for you, lady, I thought. It’s a hot day. Why not?

Susan Goldfein’s newest book, How to Complain When There’s Nothing
to Complain About, is available at Read her blog at: Email Susan at


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