I constantly flirt with the idea of quitting Facebook, but last week, I read a post that stopped me in my tracks and reminded me why I haven’t committed to deleting my account altogether.
It was written by one of my former magazine editors, and it almost felt as it was written just for me.
Nila’s just turned 50, and her attitude towards this milestone birthday was one of celebration and joie de vivre.
“I’ve been waiting for this day like a child’s first trip to Disneyland. Why? It’s a BIG feat to reach 50!” she wrote.
You see, I’ve been feeling slightly crap about myself recently. I have two kids, including a nine-month-old, and bouncing back into shape hasn’t been quite as the easy second time around. Worse still, I recently found a wrinkle – a really big one on my forehead, in a previously smooth and wrinkle-free space.
Now, I’m fully aware that this is a shallow problem to focus on. I have a husband who struggles with depression, two gloriously demanding little girls, a busy career, electricity bills that defy logic (our last was $1,750!), and my dad is being treated for pancreatic cancer. There’s plenty else going on.
But still. That bloody wrinkle. I see it every time I glance in the mirror, every time someone snaps a photo.
I know it’s not about the wrinkle. Other women my age have crows feet and laugh lines; it’s completely normal. Isn’t it?
That’s when I realised the problem. I don’t know what a 32-year-old woman is meant to look like.
In the supremely edited images we see on TV and in magazines, in our social media feeds, on blogs and in advertisements, there are very few realistic images of what real people naturally look like.
30-year-olds look 20.
40-year-olds look 30.
And those in their 50s, if they dabble in plastic surgery and the like, enter that alien-like, ageless space where only their hands can truly reveal which decade they belong in (until plastic surgeons invent hand stretching?)
Check out some of the celebrities turning 50 this year; Elle MacPherson hasn’t changed in two decades. And Sandra Bullock has looked virtually the same since Speed!
I struggle to think of a celebrity aged in their 40s or 50s who actually looks their age. Maybe Cameron Diaz?
A few weeks ago, Michaela Jones, talked about becoming anorexic at 18. She said the images she saw in the media also made her question, “Is that what a normal woman is supposed to be like?”
She was referring to the ridiculous images of body perfection we absorb on a daily basis, but the same applies to how women age (or don’t age) in the media.
I find myself asking the same thing.
What does a normal woman look like?
We’re a culture obsessed with youth. But why are we always aiming for ‘younger’? And what is so bad about ageing that we try to avoid it at all costs?