How do you feel about your age? Be honest. When you fill in that tick box on a form that puts you in the over 40 category do you squirm a little, roll your eyes a bit, or sigh? If someone asks you how old you are, do you make a joke, say you're 'getting old' or maybe even knock a year or two off?
It’s not surprising that so many of us do these things as we live in a society that tells us in a million different ways that life after 40 is downhill, that being desirable and attractive is only for those in their twenties, that we should go quietly into our later years as the best is now behind us. Erm…hell no to all of that! I for one have no intention of going quietly anywhere, and if the first step to shifting this idea of aging is to celebrate my age and declare it loudly and proudly then you'll find me on the nearest rooftop shouting it out.
I didn’t use to feel this way. When I was younger the thought of getting older literally terrified me, I used to cry if anyone said I was growing up and the idea that I would one day be a grown-up – well that was scarier than Cruella De Ville (the only Disney villain who gave me nightmares). Fast forward to now and it's a whole different story, although I’m still not fond of Cruella, and whilst I’m in no way willing the years to speed by, I am very comfortable with owning my age, even when others think it should be kept secret.
A while ago I was in a shop and happened to mention to a fellow shopper who was trying to decide whether to buy herself a colouring book, that I had been given one for my 40th a couple of years ago & loved it. The man serving in the shop looked at me in horror & said
'Shhhh, a lady never reveals her age'
Honestly, I was kind of shocked and replied that I was actually very happy being in my 40's. His response...
'women aren't supposed to admit they're over 40...it's not very attractive.'
Suffice to say he got an earful on ageism (and sexism) that I don't think he'll forget in a hurry.
Sadly, he isn't alone in feeling this way about getting older which is why the first step to real change begins with us. Women over 40. And it begins with us celebrating our age and where we are in life. Feeling positive about your age and yourself as a woman over 40 is a key part to Loving Life After 40. The Ohio Longitudinal study of aging and retirement in 2002, showed that older people with a more positive attitude towards old age lived on average an extra 7 and a half years! Just think about that for a second – feeling good about your age literally helps you live longer! Sounds like a good reason to embrace aging and celebrate life after 40 doesn't it?
So, own your age ladies, it is truly empowering, plus a woman who is confident and happy with who she is and where she is on her life journey is, in my opinion (and that of others I know), sexy as hell. Just think Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon or Halle Berry! And don't forget that every time you say your age with confidence and pride, you teach younger women not to be afraid of getting older – not convinced of this one, then read this article to see why being more visible as a woman over 40 helps to change attitudes towards aging. Feeling good about being over forty and sharing that attitude is not only empowering (and healthy) for you it also makes you a pro-aging pioneer and is a great way to start shifting the perception of Life After 40.
So, next time someone asks your age, celebrate it and say it with confidence and show them that Life After 40 is actually pretty damn good.