Written by Charlotte Markey and Lorie Sousa
Congratulations! If you are reading this blog posting, you are probably getting older. In fact, we are all getting older. Each and every day.
If you pay much attention to information hurtling at you on a daily basis via popular culture – television, advertising, social media, the internet in general – you’d believe there’s not much to look forward to with age. Let us convince you otherwise, at least in terms of your aging body.
To be sure: Your knees will get stiffer, you may develop arthritis in your hands, and grey hair is an interloper that arrives and refuses to leave. Speaking of hair, why is there now less hair on your head, but more hair in places where it shouldn’t be? However, your aging body also offers plenty of virtues and advantages. Or so we aim to convince you.
Let’s start with some of the more general benefits of having arrived at this point. If you are in your 40s (or older) it’s likely that your kids (if you have them) are older and more independent, your job is more secure, and you are not quite so overwhelmed and overscheduled. You may actually have time to exercise and get in good shape! So, do it! Walk or run with friends, take yoga or dance classes, or join a gym and swim. Find something that you love, not just something you think you should be doing. It’s NOT too late to develop that exercise regimen you’ve always considered. You have “me time” – use it wisely.
Time, along with more disposable income, helps in other ways too: Go get your hair colored, if you want to. And, get your nails done, too – again, if you want to. While some appearance-related matters may decline with age, these declines are offset by the greater time and resources you can now devote to “maintenance.”
With age can also come a sort of liberation from concerns about how other people think of you. There’s now just one master to serve: you. To impress others when you were younger, you may have worn jeans that were uncomfortably tight or heels that were impossibly high. Now, you can wear “Not Your Mother’s Jeans.” Don’t wear stiletto heels unless you really want to (and we can’t imagine why you would!). In fact, don’t wear a bra unless you really want to (or need to). And make-up – only if you want to; there is no need! Now is the time to put the emphasis on your health, taking care of yourself, and feeling good.
The benefits of aging go beyond escaping or redefining societal beauty norms so you can be more authentically you. For all the complaints about aging and menopause, there is an upside for your aging body. I mean did you really enjoy getting a period every month? Was it fun to worry about birth control or an accidental pregnancy? We suspect not. It’s time for sex with impunity. Savor it.
Now that you’ve been with your body for decades – and it’s the only body you’ll get – you know it pretty well. True, the only constant is change and your body will not always feel or look as it once did. However, there are things you now know about yourself: you are a morning person, you don’t feel well if you eat spicy foods, running hurts your knees, you feel better when you get at least eight hours of sleep, cheese is not your friend, you’re better off without that second glass of wine. There’s a lot to be said for this self-knowledge and the ways you can use it to make yourself more comfortable. Pay attention to yourself and try to be good to yourself.
A look at the scientific literature on body image suggests that a lot of women feel better about their bodies with age. Maybe it’s because women become less hard on themselves over time; maybe it’s about shifting standards (no one expects a model’s body at 60). Aging is inevitable – if you are lucky! But, body satisfaction is not inevitable; it needs to be nurtured. The clock is ticking. Enjoy every minute of it!