One of the participants in my Fit, Fabulous and Fierce over 40 class said something a couple of weeks ago that really struck me. She said, “The weight gain thing in menopause isn’t the worst part of it. The worst part is looking in the mirror and seeing how old I look. I hate how I look.”
A long-time friend who recently spent time with me at the beach showed up with a bathing suit that has a skirt. Not because she WANTED a bathing suit with a skirt because it was cute, but because she believes she has parts that shouldn’t be out in public anymore. Never mind that last year she was rocking a bikini. The truth is (from my vantage point) that she looks just as fit and fabulous as she always has… just in an older version of her high-school self.
Both of these women are gorgeous. Both are in their mid-fifties. And somewhere along the line, both have bought into the idea that they should look perpetually 25. Getting older is difficult for many of us to accept in a culture that places so much value on looking young and hot.
The problem is that midlife women are portrayed as hot alright, but not in a good way. Just pick up any piece of marketing material that targets 40-50 something women and you are likely to see a woman fanning herself or throwing a tantrum. Magazines are full of ads that encourage us to fill every line and get our cellulite Cool Sculpted. The natural changes of midlife and menopause are to be avoided at all costs!
Changing the Face of 50
So what to do? We can either accept being lumped into midlife stereotypes or we can push back and change the conversation… and hopefully the mindset of marketers when it comes to women and aging. Men are portrayed as distinguished. Why should we settle for anything less?
What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful midlife women decided to skip the whole anti-aging craze in order to show the next generation that lined, real faces and cellulite are beautiful? What if we decided to stop throwing away millions of dollars on the myriad of available procedures, plumpers and potions? Even as I write this, an email comes in (from a respected physician) selling me Aging Reset Essentials.
How could simply owning (and treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence (like our daughters)? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly realness?
I’ll bet THAT would change the conversation.
The happy truth is we are more than our bodies. We aren’t all sitting around fanning ourselves or bouncing grandkids on our knee all day long. Nor are we dusty old crones who have passed our expiration date and have nothing left to offer to the world.
We are wise. We are powerful. We are creative and vibrant. And we don’t have to look 25 forever to be worthwhile or beautiful. Think about your own relationship to aging. How are you buying into the myth that it must be prevented, fixed or covered up? What is one small change you can make to move closer to a better relationship with your aging body?
Share your thoughts in the comments section or in the Hormone Harmony Club.