In some ways, it's a silly question. Our chronological age is not negotiable. Like our gender, race, and eye color, we have no control over what age we are. But unlike the cold hard fact of our age, we have a lot of control over: 1) how we think about it, and 2) how we look.
I have written about the tendency in Western society to make older women invisible. There are no plaques or medals given to us for having reached a certain age. No pageants for Ms. Wisdom, Ms. Maturity, or Ms. Got-Her-Act-Together. If we study the advertisements, even products targeted for grown women are only actually shown on teens and 20-somethings.
|Image via Antiaging365.com|
That leaves us to think about how to age, gracefully or otherwise. What is our internal dialog about aging? And what's this "embracing" all about? I think it starts with how we talk to ourselves about ourselves, without competition (see Sally's excellent post), without disparagement, and without bat-crazy delusions (I am forever young!). Below are some of the messages I try to send myself daily about the reality of being an older woman in a youth-obsessed world:
- There are always trade-offs. The trade-off now is that of wisdom and acceptance for youth. Not really such a bad deal.
- So long as I have people to love, work to do, books to read, and new ideas to think about, I will be full of passion. Passion makes me feel more youthful than any neck cream.
- Lots of wonderful adventures still await, if I am willing. I don't know for sure what is around the next corner, even though I have rounded many corners.
- Live in the truth, not denial -- but choose joy over despair.
As for the how-we-look part, there are so many interventions we can make to look healthier and prettier, without fixating on looking younger. Don't smoke, don't drink too much, don't bake in the sun. Eat fresh foods, move around a lot, stretch, sleep enough. Get a stylish haircut, go easy on the makeup. And our fashion bloggers' favorite: dress with pleasure! Get into that closet and put on something that makes you feel fantastic. Start a blog!
Here are some beautiful over-50 women who are in the public eye. Yes, they certainly have the $$$$ to have procedures done, and they can have the top professionals care for their hair, skin and wardrobes. But none of these women looks plastic or has that wide-eyed look that some celebrities get when they seek youth via the scalpel. These women look like they've "embraced" their age.
Do you have thoughts about aging gracefully or otherwise? Any over-40 role models that help you think about aging in a positive way?