In my teen years I learned to loathe my body, to starve myself into a size zero. In my mind, heroes wore zeros. Not surprisingly, I became an image-obsessed anorexic, who believed that food was the enemy. In my 20s, I was a mother and wife, so scared and incredibly unequipped. Always looking over my shoulder, I was sure the experts were watching and judging. Did they see me roll my eyes when the baby woke up at three a.m.?
Now here I am, riding the late-30s roller coaster and feeling pretty damn amazing. Screw the anti-aging commercials and the shame they shovel on us with every “turn back the clock” campaign and high-priced elixir they’re peddling. I don’t want to turn back the friggin clock!
I refuse to buy the anti-aging bullsh*t because I am not anti-aging. I am anti-everything that implies we women are doomed because we no longer have a thigh gap. I am anti-bullsh*t, and here are five things I’m too old to fu*ck with anymore:
I made it through high school, when bad hair days and horrendous acne could make me question my existence. I survived the first terrifying years of marriage and motherhood. More than a decade later, I endured a major emotional b*tch slap when I let my cheating ex convince me I deserved his infidelity. Then there was divorce (more on that here), and single parenthood, and sleepless nights when I worried whether we’d get by. But I found my fierce. I picked up the broken pieces of my self-esteem. I put that sh*t back together and said to hell with insecurities. I have seen myself do amazing things, and therefore I know I am capable.
I’ve talked about this extensively in another post, so I’ll just say this: comparisons can crush us ― if we let them. I have to remind myself regularly that I am uniquely awesome. Healthy competition is good, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. My path is not yours, and that’s cool. That 20-something sporting her leather catsuit can’t make me feel ugly. Her beauty does not dull mine. In fact, we’re both rockin’ our own brand of beautiful.
3. Body Shame
I work out most days. I force down a swamp-like superfoods beverage every morning, and I eat clean most meals. I work hard to stay fit and healthy. But I’ve got these stretch marks on my belly and these dimples on my ass. I used to give a damn. I used to buy the bogus beauty creams and boot camps in a box. But one day I woke up, stroked my imperfect flesh and whispered an apology to my body. “I’m sorry for expecting too much. I not only accept you, I appreciate you.”
Harriet Thompson ran a San Diego marathon at age 92. Helen Keller was a brilliant author and political activist, despite being deaf and blind. People who do incredible things don’t do this one thing: make excuses.
Excuses are the language of my fears. It’s time to stop making them.
I’m too old to heed the headlines “How to Dress Over 30,” “How to Impress a Man.” I’ve blindly followed the advice of the “experts,” but age and experience have taught me better. My life means my rules. I’m too old to play Simon Says.
When it comes to getting older, I am not clinging to the sinking ship of my youth. However, if you tell me, “I look great for my age” you might get slapped with a decrepit hand. I’ve come too far to feel anything but gratitude for the place I am right now. Rock on, “aging” women.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.