There comes a time, let’s say, post thirty-five, when age – quite unexpectedly – starts to define us. For women, it’s all about society’s primal assumptions. The world assumes us ‘fertile’ up until our mid-thirties. Even though 99.9 per cent of those we come into contact with will not want to breed with us, our ‘worth’ sublimely starts to diminish as we speed towards our forties. The great novelists and playrights spoke of it all the time – the slow fading of a woman’s power and allure – Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Austen. I love them all but will I accept the fate they speak of?
For many modern women, becoming ‘ageless’ is not about vanity or chasing prescribed beauty; it’s simply about wanting to recognise the face that greets us in the mirror every morning. It’s about the easy confidence that comes with feeling comfortable in our own skin. It’s about being unafraid to start a new career at sixty; run a marathon at fifty; find love at seventy.
As we get older, the pieces invariably start to fall into place. We learn more about who we are; how we want to live our lives. Experience offers new wisdom, understanding and opportunity. Many of us begin to feel as though we’re ‘only just setting out’ on our true paths as we approach middle age and beyond. What a tragedy, then, that society is as judgemental of post-30 women as it ever was. The menopause has been utterly demonised; any form of cosmetic surgery is frowned upon ‘Why can’t she grow old gracefully?’; and woe betide the woman who falls in love with a much younger partner ‘He’ll leave her as soon as he wants babies.’
The harsh truth is, women do this to themselves. We are our own gender’s harshest critics. In a society where well-known, older women are fair game for ruthless paparazzi and everyone is open to the taunts of online trolls, is it any wonder we find it so hard to feel at ease with ourselves and our choices as we grow older?
A wise woman allows no-one to distinguish her flame. She refuses to perpetrate stereotypes and treats herself and all those around her as ‘ageless’. In our dreams, our souls never grow older – live your life that way and you might just find the ageing process reversing itself!
by guest blogger Trelawney Kerrigan
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