There are unspoken expectations and rules about our appearance as we age. It can and does have a detrimental impact about how we feel about ourselves. I wonder what message it sends to younger women.
I despise ageism and all that goes with it, but when talking with a friend the other day I realized that we may be our own worst enemies at times. We may pick up where the advertisers leave off. It can be insidious in how it creeps into our psyche.
So I’m going to list some of the more common negative things that we may perpetuate in our own minds, about our bodies because we’ve been conditioned by advertisers.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of advertisers using 45-year-old women and proclaiming some magic formula that removes wrinkles. Or having them hanging on the arm of a 65-year-old man who is using erectile dysfunction medication.
So, here’s a short list – see if you can find yourself. I encourage you to really think about the areas you relate to and why or where those thoughts originated. Then you can start to change your own mind.
Hair – are you happy with your hair? Are you always fussing with it? Do you worry about it? Who gave you the message that your hair isn’t nice?
Skull shape – so this follows hair, as sometimes we have to arrange our hair to hide our less-than-perfect skull shape – we think. Is this something that bothers you? Why?
Arms—Do you have more adipose tissue (fat) at the tops of your arms now that you are a Boomer than when you were younger? Do your looser arms bother you? Look at why it bothers you.
Necks—We even have names for this. You’ve heard them…..turkey wattle; spare chins; and other unflattering names. Why is this not okay with you? Where did you get the idea that it was not attractive? Whose standard are you adhering to?
Thighs—We unconsciously compare ourselves to others, in magazines, television, movies etc. Most of the models in these media groups look very thin. Do you compare yourself to others in this way? Do you dislike your thighs? Why?
Pierre Paul Rubens, a Flemish painter (1577 – 1640) painted women as they were during that period. His models have been referred to as being rubenesque. Women were celebrated because they were voluptuous and generously proportioned. In our generation, Norma Jean Mortensen (aka: Marilyn Monroe) was celebrated for this as well. Then along came Twiggy.
Of course we all like to look our best, but I would encourage you to pay less attention to the societal pressures and ridiculous expectations that are used to judge women and what they look like as they become older.
I would encourage every woman who reads this column and who finds that some of it may apply to them, to start practicing mindfulness when it comes to self perception.
Become aware of every time you judge yourself in a negative manner, then think, or say the word stop. Replace the negative notion with, “I am a beautiful soul and I love who I am”. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that has this written on it. Read it out loud daily. Reinforce it as often as you can.
Connect with the wisdom you have gained in your life and remind yourself that you are a beautiful soul. Practice loving who you are. Let’s celebrate our beautiful and perhaps less than perfect bodies. Each one of us is unique.
I mean really, we’re practically perfect.
Carole Fawcett is a freelance writer, editor, humourist www.wordaffair.com