How the Covid vaccine got women openly embracing their ages and weights

As a woman in her 60s, I have never seen so many of my female compatriots publicly trumpeting their age and even their weight as I have in the last two months. Women on neighborhood listserves, Facebook and every other public forum are all proudly and loudly proclaiming they are 65 (or older), and even publicly stating that their body mass indexes — a measure of weight divided by height — make them obese rather than overweight.

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It’s all in an effort to get — or justify getting — an appointment for the coveted, still-not-widely available coronavirus vaccine that will free them from this yearlong, emotionally trying and bleak lockdown.

It seems this is the rare occasion that being older, sicker or overweight pays off for women.

“It was the first time that I was sorry to be only 74!” said one female friend, who had to wait until all those 75 and older were vaccinated where she lives to qualify for a vaccination appointment.

“I’m happy to give my height and weight if that gives me a better chance,” said one friend trying to figure out when she might qualify for a vaccine, knowing her BMI is higher than her doctor would like.

Now, our age is actually working in our favor.

And other women will even admit to chronic illnesses, smoking or other conditions that put us at a higher risk for being seen as undesirable as women, if it improves our chances of getting the jab.

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It’s a strange feeling to broadcast your age (let alone your weight) when, in most cases, women have learned it’s best to mumble when asked how old we are. We keep our age a secret when going on job interviews, and try to downplay our decades of experience, hoping it won’t give the number away. We don’t put the years we graduated from college on our resumes, defying hiring managers who might otherwise do the math to dare and ask. We worry that younger colleagues will write us off as washed up, passé, belonging to the Mesozoic instead of the Minecraft era.

And if we put our profiles up on dating apps, the last thing we do is advertise our real ages, knowing full well that men lie about theirs and tweak their search settings to try to get dates with younger women. We leave the weight indicator blank; we downplay our drinking and smoking; we demur about doctors appointments. We are oh-so-clever at making ourselves appealing without revealing incriminating details that might detract from our perceived desirability as partners.

But now, our age is actually working in our favor.

We who have gone to great lengths to hide our age for fear of professional or social discrimination now boldly declare our hard-earned years. We who don’t even tell our husbands or partners our true weights are now touting our Body Mass Indexes online.

I can’t say that it hurts my feelings too much to be the object of a little envy right now for my age and my medical condition.

I’m 67 with an underlying condition — which I confidently typed when pre-registering for a vaccine in my county, certain that it would give me a leg up in the race to get vaccinated. I was a little bummed that, even with an underlying condition, I had to wait until those 75 and older got their arms poked.

Still, I figured that I’d be at the head of the next group’s line — until Virginia decided to turn category 1b into 65+ as well as everyone with underlying conditions between 16 and 64. (That’s about half of Virginia’s 8.5 million population, according to the Virginia Department of Health.)

But when I finally did get my shot a week ago, I posted about it on Facebook.

One young friend of mine — 63 years old — responded: “Not being able to get the vaccine until who knows when, I am sure tired of hearing: ‘I got mine.’”

Another admitted her envy as well: “Getting the vaccine is more important than vanity. It’s hard being a little too young!”

I can’t say that it hurts my feelings too much to be the object of a little envy right now for my age and my medical condition.

Women will even admit to chronic illnesses, smoking or other conditions that put us at a higher risk for being seen as undesirable as women, if it improves our chances of getting the jab.

One friend registered with her county in February, honestly stating her age — 64 years and 10 months; she’ll be 65 in April — hoping to scoot in anyway. Initially, the registration site gave her a vaccination date when she indicated her BMI was above 30. But then the system caught up with her, like the bouncer at a bar when she was two months shy of the legal drinking age, and cruelly ejected her from the club.

It’s gotten so popular to be old enough to qualify for the vaccine that, while many women wear “face-paint” — my mom’s phrase for makeup — to help hide the tell-tale signs of aging, two Florida women (ages 44 and 34) desperate to get the freedom shot dressed up in their best granny gear and walked into a clinic to get vaccinated.

The women apparently hoped to pass as older than 65 — the cutoff for priority patients in Florida — with glasses, bonnets and fake Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cards indicating they were eligible for a second dose. (They got caught when their license birthdates didn’t match their CDC cards.)

At least for now, if being old and/or overweight are the key to the hottest ticket, I’ll take it.

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