I started writing this on my 40th birthday. A couple weeks ago, I asked in my Instagram stories for suggestions on what people would like to write about, and one of them was asking about how to feel better about getting older. It was from a fellow model, who is younger than me, but still noticing changes in her body, and having a hard time coming to terms with it. I thought I would share my feelings on how to feel better about getting older in case they help somebody else! And I thought I would come up with a step even further to take them, so stay tuned for that!
I have struggled differently at different times with stress about aging. It was pretty bad at milestone birthdays, like 30, and 35. It was also really hard when I lived in LA, because there were so many people who got work done, and I think the average age of people that I was seeing was significantly younger. It was also very strange to make this shift from being the model to being the make up artist, and often being 20 or more years older than the model! Both being in an industry that places a lot of value on superficial appearances, as well as being in a geographical location that does the same can definitely be challenging, even if you generally consider yourself a confident, happy, or grounded person.
Social media can help, or it can hurt, all depending on who/what accounts you follow. Of course, with media in general, there’s airbrushing/editing, and I think we often fail to realize how edited the images even our friends post can be. Another factor is that we’re constantly being inundated with messaging about aging that is either incorrect, or unhealthy! I had only been 40 for a few hours when these ads started showing up in my stories:
I mean, come on… The one ad is right that I haven’t had my period in almost a year, but it is because I just had a baby, not because I am going through menopause!
At least it hasn’t been as bad as these kids expected…
But as I mentioned – following the right social media accounts can help, whether it’s those sharing body positivity (or even just realistic images on media), or people who are embodying graceful aging…
I want to share some words from one of my favorite role models in the fashion industry, Iris Apfel:
And if you’re not familiar with Iris, here she is celebrating her 100th birthday:
View this post on Instagram
This doesn’t even cover the more important fact – that we’re blessed to live every single day we get, which is something denied to so many!
While I think this perspective I’m getting older is great, especially coming from someone who is recently turned 100 years old, it is sort of like when you’re sad and somebody tells you that other people have it worse.
Getting a reminder that there are people who are sick, hungry, living in war torn areas, etc. definitely helps me feel blessed, but I don’t necessarily need a reminder of my blessings at these times. Someone else’s terrible circumstances don’t make mine better, and rarely help me feel any relief. I am someone who practices gratitude daily, so this part of trying to fix the problem is not so effective for me, especially not in a long-term way.
Sure, for a couple moments I am grateful that things are not worse, but that doesn’t improve anything or help me feel better about getting older.
So what does?
- One thing is to redefine how we feel about our bodies, what is sexy, and who is in charge of deciding.
Some thing I am seeing a lot of on social media (and perhaps it could be because I am intentionally following these types of accounts) is a movement toward body positivity, and realistic portrayal of people as opposed to so much filtering and editing.
If we think about the messaging we get traditionally around what is acceptable for a woman regarding aging, “bouncing back from childbirth,” or what is acceptable or desirable in terms of their bodies, it generally comes back to patriarchy and capitalism. Sex sells!
I have been working on changing the narrative in my own mind. Yes, I do some modeling, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to get back into doing more than I have been lately. So the “selling” aspect still applies to me. But I think so many more brands and agencies are going for inclusive rosters and representation, that it’s a matter of finding a fit that aligns with how I feel.
2. Another thing to do, is to think about my body and all of the amazing things that has done helps a lot.
I gave birth to another human being. That was the hardest thing I have ever done! It’s amazing that my body did that, and is also amazing that it makes food for him every day!
I used to be able to dead lift to 160 pounds for five sets of five without it being too hard. I can’t wait to get back to that!
I did the Susan G Komen 3-Day six or seven times, which means walking hundreds of miles to fight breast cancer.
Those are all major things I am extra proud of, but if you even think about the things that are happening “automagically” (as my friend and business mentor likes to say) it is pretty incredible! All the processes that are keeping us alive are amazing, and should not be discounted!
3. My third suggestion is to think about the different parts of you that are unfade-able. What is inside? What are things that other people say that are never going to change, or will truly improve like a fine wine?
I think the most important thing is to remember that your body is just a container for all of the magic that you are. It is the wrapping paper and bow on a present that anyone would love to have even without the decorations on the outside!
Remembering that there is more to you than your exterior areas that you are hopefully improving by the day in the areas of your choosing, can help take some pressure off of what is expected of you on the outside. I bet the list as long!
In thinking about my birthday, and how there are probably other people feeling the same way, I decided that I was going to make a little challenge to help people feel better about it. It’s not quite ready yet, but you can get on the list here for once it is ready!
It will also put you on the almost weekly list of updates for me, but I promise that I’ll only email you when I think there’s some thing really good! Stay tuned for the challenge to hopefully help you feel better about getting older!
How about you? What would you add to the list?